My Friend is a Palestinian Bedouin: XII. Individualism versus Collectivism. Friendships
Whether it is friends or family, Bashar has a lesser need to meet people alone than I have. Moreover, with his more collectivistic orientation he would not turn away someone who would like to join a social interaction. With some exceptions, he would not succumb to my pressure to be with him alone in case the arrival of others prevented that. This is actually what happened in the tale described above, in which his partner in the garage suddenly joined our meeting. By contrast, I would have no problem turning down someone who would like to join, by telling him or her that I would like to spend some time with someone else. Although Bashar prefers group-life, sometimes he feels that being continuously with people is too much for him as well. In this respect, we both accommodated. We mostly meet in the presence of others and occasionally he makes time to be only with me.
Another issue on which there is major difference between us concerns the question whether something is a public or a private matter. At some point, I told Bashar I had received a letter for him from a company. He asked me what is in the letter and was surprised that I did not know. If it was up to him, I could open his letters or check his emails without asking. For me it was obvious that I would not do so without his consent. This is in contrast with the discussion of personal issues. Although there are personal matters that I would prefer not to discuss in public, I tend to be much less private than he is. He would not discuss personal issues in the presence of others. Especially the public discussion of family related issues is taboo. Keeping things private, he sees as a form of security, a way to prevent creating troubles within one’s own family, between families, with friends or with the State. He would not appreciate being asked about these issues. He actually sees talking about one’s life as something for women. This is in sharp contrast with my attitude. I find it important to share emotions, events and developments pertaining to the friendship with my other friends. Bashar did not understand the need of mine to reveal personal information and occasionally felt uncomfortable with the fact that I shared things about him or about the friendship.