In this Medium article, Duncan Sabien takes inspiration from international diplomacy to improve personal understanding. The idea is everyone has a unique personal culture consisting of all of one's default expectations about the social world around them. One's personal culture is not fully determined by one's identity or social group, as the author's personal culture differs from "other white, college-educated, non-religious, American-raised, upper-middle-class males" in some of the below ways:
- What interactions between different classes of people are or are not okay (e.g. whether a high-school teacher can or can't give their students permission to refer to them by their first name).
- What certain actions are widely interpreted to mean (e.g. "everybody knows" that if you plead the fifth, it's because you're guilty).
- What obligations you have when discussing controversial topics (e.g. whether you have a responsibility to include historical context, or a responsibility to remain dispassionate and logical).
- What sorts of idiosyncrasies are defections (e.g. whether it's okay to go to a party and be the only one who remains sober).
- The "rules of engagement" for various levels of disagreement or antagonism (e.g. whether it's justified to engage in otherwise-disallowed behavior if it's in response to someone else doing it first).
- The order and ranking of swear words and epithets; which curses are mild and which are unspeakable and unforgivable.
- What things are sacred and what things may be mocked.
- Whether or not birthdays and anniversaries are special.
- When and how to decide between focusing on people's feelings and interpretations in a way that doesn't particularly care about the truth of the matter (which is often useful for healing and processing) versus focusing on cause and effect and objectively verifiable truth (which is often useful for a lot of other things).
- What it's okay for an employer to ask of its employees, and whether or not society should put limits on what adults can freely agree to (e.g. questions about mandated minimum wage).
- Which side of an argument or disagreement is the default, and which bears the burden of proof, and how that decision is made, and whether it's made implicitly or explicitly.
- Whether or not cargo shorts are a valid thing to wear, and whether or not the question "are cargo shorts a valid thing to wear?" is a valid one to pose.
The author uses "culture" because the point of the piece is approaching interpersonal conflict "[n]ot by demanding that everyone follow their rules, and not by asserting any one culture’s superiority over another, but simply by acknowledging the fact that their culture meaningfully differs from everyone else’s." Whether or not this is a good idea, the word "culture" is usually defined as applying to a group rather than an individual (emphasis mine):
3. the conventional conducts and ideologies of a community; the system comprising of the accepted norms and values of a society.
However, a community that holds certain views on objective truth vs feelings, default burden of proof, sacredness, etc. can certainly be described as a culture: we have "callout culture" and "hookup culture" and "hacker culture" and so on.
So, is there a better word than "culture" for this concept; and if not, a short phrase?
I hope a word exists fitting at least one of these usages:
In my X, if I lend you a book, I should not have to ask for it back.
My X say(s) that if I lend you a book, I should not have to ask for it back.
Words that don't quite fit to me
"Umwelt" is only about one's sensory perception.
Changing the usage syntax slightly, these expectations would be "conventions" or "social mores" or "norms" if followed by more than one person.
"Values" or "value system" might work, but do not capture the idea of assigning meaning to an action like "pleading the fifth"
"Sensibilities" fits this other question but is not quite right here, as it refers to how one personally reacts to a stimulus or idea, which may or may not be social in nature.
"Ethics", "morals", and "virtues" are even less specific.