A few years ago I would spend a lot of time on one of the more popular Thai web forums. The conversations could be fun but they could also quickly turn very nasty. One of the more common causes of a s**t storm would be when one poster would suggest to another that if they aren’t happy with Thailand they should just go home. You always knew that there would be a string of abusive posts directed towards the person who suggested this – almost the whole forum would turn against them. It was never pretty. Who did they think they are? What gives them the right to say who can or can’t stay in Thailand? Blah,blah,blah…
I never had the guts to suggest to people on a web forum that they return home but I must admit that the thought sometimes crossed my mind. We all need to vent but there has to come a stage when enough is enough – if somebody is our friend they need to tell us this. When you hear the same people complaining day after day about all that is wrong with Thailand you have to wonder about what is keeping them here. I’ve talked about my own experiences of culture shock in a previous post (see here), but some of us really do seem to have turned it into a calling. This was one of the reasons I stopped using these forums. If you mentioned anything positive about Thailand you were accused of having ‘rose-tinted glasses’ or being a newbie. The strange thing is that some of us will even claim that we complain so much because we love the country – maybe this is some type of tough-love. I really do believe that being around too much negativity is not good for you.
Many of us ex-pats who come to Thailand seem to do so because we see something in the culture that we feel is missing in our own – for me it was the relaxed approach to life. Of course you do also get the missionary types who come with the notion that there is something wrong with Thai culture already and they are going to fix it – this is only a small minority of ex-pats though. For those of us who are a bit starry eyed in the beginning there will usually be a stage when we return to planet earth. We realise that Thailand isn’t perfect and we want to vent our frustrations – this is very understandable and I did it myself. I think the problem is though when we get trapped in this stage. We make ourselves miserable and we will stay that way until something changes. The reality is though that Thailand hasn’t changed; it is our perception of it that has changed – the problem is coming from us.
I could be wrong but I don’t know how complaining will ever help anything; trying to change Thailand also seems to be to be a bit of a pointless venture – and it seems that most Thais don’t want this unrequested help, thank you very much. Yet most of us would much rather try to change a whole culture then consider the possibility that there could be something wrong with ourselves. I’m being honest here and have to say that those times in my life when I was most concerned with what was going on in the outside world were the times when I was the most mentally off-key. It was like my external world was mirroring my internal pain; it took me a while to realise that trying to fix what was wrong with me was a whole lot easier than going on a crusade against the rest of the world.