Throughout coverage of the current disaster in Japan, an overwhelming number of Western-based news media have characterized the Japanese reaction as “stoic.” But is stoic a fair and accurate way to characterize the current mood in Japan?
Stoic (adj) is defined as unaffected; indifferent; restrained. Does this apply?
Restrained: Perhaps…but that doesn’t sufficiently convey to readers or viewers what the Japanese are really feeling.
Like the cross cultural scenario we featured a couple weeks ago, this is an example of members of a low-context culture (Westerners) not knowing to look for the messages that are subtle and nuanced, but very much there and very real. This is a missed opportunity to impart cultural intelligence.
To be fair, some news organizations did dig a bit deeper and explain what we are not seeing on the surface, but on the whole the lack of cultural awareness has been disappointing.
Constructive feedback to the media: Rather than simply characterizing the Japanese reaction as stoic, explain that there is much more to the images we see of the Japanese than meets the Western eye.