I was hanging out with friends tonight and we were watching a documentary on (Australian) TV. There was this obnoxious main character. For all her actions habe ich mich fremdgeschämt, but I wasn’t able to explain the concept of fremdschämen in English.
I’ve got two questions:
How would you translate fremdschämen into English?
The best fitting answer, I found, seems to be … has a high cringe factor ….
Second question: Does the concept of fremdschämen predominantly exist in Germany? It exists in Russia where I lived for a while, but not as strongly as in Germany. I assume that it exists here in Australia, but as in Russia behavior of one person seems to be more the business of the very person, that actually behaves “inappropriately” (from the prejudiced observer’s perspective)
Disclaimer: I’d like to mention, that I realize, that fremdschämen says more about the observer than about the object of observance. It is probably strongly linked to one’s class affiliation.