18
   

10 Things Most Americans Don't Know About America

 
 
panzade
 
Reply Fri 13 Jul, 2012 12:14 pm
I found this blog particularly timely; perhaps because I've spent many years living in other cultures
.
I'd like to know. What do you think about this author and is he right?

http://postmasculine.com/america

"Imagine you have a brother and he’s an alcoholic. He has his moments, but you keep your distance from him. You don’t mind him for the occasional family gathering or holiday. You still love him. But you don’t want to be around him.

This is how I lovingly describe my current relationship with the United States. The United States is my alcoholic brother. And although I will always love him, I don’t want to be near him at the moment.

I know that’s harsh, but I really feel my home country is not in a good place these days. That’s not a socio-economic statement (although that’s on the decline as well), but rather a cultural one.

I realize it’s going to be impossible to write sentences like the ones above without coming across as a raging prick, so let me try to soften the blow to my American readers with an analogy:

You know when you move out of your parents’ house and live on your own, how you start hanging out with your friends’ families and you realize that actually, your family was a little screwed up? Stuff you always assumed was normal your entire childhood, it turns out was pretty weird and may have actually fucked you up a little bit. You know, dad thinking it was funny to wear a Santa Claus hat in his underwear every Christmas or the fact that you and your sister slept in the same bed until you were 22, or that your mother routinely cried over a bottle of wine while listening to Elton John.

The point is we don’t really get perspective on what’s close to us until we spend time away from it. Just like you didn’t realize the weird quirks and nuances of your family until you left and spent time with others, the same is true for country and culture. You often don’t see what’s messed up about your country and culture until you step outside of it.

And so even though this article is going to come across as fairly scathing, I want my American readers to know: some of the stuff we do, some of the stuff that we always assumed was normal, it’s kind of screwed up. And that’s OK. Because that’s true with every culture. It’s just easier to spot it in others (i.e., the French) so we don’t always notice it in ourselves.

So as you read this article, know that I’m saying everything with tough love, the same tough love with which I’d sit down and lecture an alcoholic family member. It doesn’t mean I don’t love you. It doesn’t mean there aren’t some awesome things about you (BRO, THAT’S AWESOME!!!). And it doesn’t mean I’m some saint either, because god knows I’m pretty screwed up (I’m American, after all). There are just a few things you need to hear. And as a friend, I’m going to tell them to you.

And to my foreign readers, get your necks ready, because this is going to be a nod-a-thon. "
 
panzade
 
  1  
Reply Fri 13 Jul, 2012 12:51 pm
Jeff Daniels in the new HBO show "Newsroom"

"First step in solving any problem is recognizing that there is one"

Pemerson
 
  1  
Reply Fri 13 Jul, 2012 01:39 pm
@panzade,
Yes, Jeff Daniels, that is enough said, and you are exactly right. It's politicians that say that about America. The best country in the world? If Americans wants to be the best country in the world, then each American should live the best life he/she can each day of their life.

There are too many cheats, thieves, greedy idiots in this country. If it's true that "people get the leaders they deserve" then we're due a dictator. For Pete's sake even charities steal from themselves.
0 Replies
 
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Fri 13 Jul, 2012 06:17 pm
@panzade,
I had a read of that guy's blog/forum generally. Pan, I am interested in your thoughts of his take on modern masculinity, if you care to give them.
CalamityJane
 
  1  
Reply Fri 13 Jul, 2012 06:28 pm
@panzade,
panzade, like you I have lived in another country and visited places all over the world.

I do know that the United States has an inflated ego, but as someone mentioned to me: The United States is an adolescent nation, (compared to other countries) and as such it behaves accordingly - rambunctious, inexperienced, and often without thinking of the ramifications.
panzade
 
  1  
Reply Fri 13 Jul, 2012 07:52 pm
@dlowan,
Just found his blog. Haven't read that one but I will
0 Replies
 
panzade
 
  1  
Reply Fri 13 Jul, 2012 07:57 pm
@CalamityJane,
That's very gracious of you Cal.
Ceili
 
  1  
Reply Fri 13 Jul, 2012 07:59 pm
@panzade,
His blog, article was good. Most of it could be applied to Canada too. Although, generally, nobody gives us a second thought... lol
0 Replies
 
Lash
 
  2  
Reply Fri 13 Jul, 2012 08:31 pm
This seemed a couple of decades late. I don't think as many Americans are as much in the dark about most of these as the author imagines.
thack45
 
  2  
Reply Fri 13 Jul, 2012 08:43 pm
@Lash,
yep, nothing really new here. swing and a miss.
0 Replies
 
thack45
 
  2  
Reply Fri 13 Jul, 2012 09:38 pm
The blogger never mentioned his opinion of the US prior to his three year stint away from it. Would've been nice to read that he was a rootin tootin, rough and rowdy A-merican who came to his senses. I'm guessing, at best, he already had his suspicions; more than likely though, he's just pandering
0 Replies
 
Finn dAbuzz
 
  2  
Reply Sat 14 Jul, 2012 12:11 am
There a huge audience of non-Americans, and liberal Americans for Americans who want to knock America. I'm sure's gotten this guy made it through many nights at bars in Europe without having to buy a drink.

He's pegged himself correctly:

Quote:
...my own flavor of arrogance and self-absorption

ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Sat 14 Jul, 2012 12:42 am
@Finn dAbuzz,
I don't know, I agree with those who thought this was easy type, but still interested.
0 Replies
 
George
 
  1  
Reply Sat 14 Jul, 2012 07:50 am
1. Few People Are Impressed By Us
Whether or not most of the world is impressed by us is not a big deal
for us. WE are impressed by us. While we're young. And impressionable.

2. Few People Hate Us
Most Americans know that the majority of people on the planet do not
hate us. We do believe that the people who hate us REALLY hate us.

3. We Know Nothing About The Rest Of The World
Really we (all of us?) know nothing (not too little, but nothing) about the
rest of the world? Really? Flaming hyperbole here. Yes, the average
American's knowledge of the history and geography of the world is dismal,
but let's not get carried away.

4. We Are Poor At Expressing Gratitude And Affection
Many of us who are descended from Northern Europeans, Chinese, and
Japanese do have a problem with the expression of emotion. It is not
a uniquely American trait.

5. The Quality of Life For The Average American Is Not That Great
Maybe by his definition: “Having the freedom to maximize one’s life
experiences.” By which he seems to mean that we work too hard to
get the money to buy what we want. I'm probably too much of a New
Englander to see this ass a problem.

6. The Rest Of The World Is Not A Slum-Ridden Shithole Compared To Us
We don't know that, huh? Get real. He then goes on to say he didn't
know what many places in the world were like until he went there.
Me neither. I found some places to be better than I expected, others
worse. I was not surprised to find indoor plumbing in London.

7. We’re Paranoid
He says "You don’t have to watch Fox News or CNN for more than 10
minutes to hear about how our drinking water is going to kill us, our
neighbor is going to rape our children, some terrorist in Yemen is going
to kill us because we didn’t torture him, Mexicans are going to kill us,
or some virus from a bird is going to kill us."

Dude, let me amend that. You don't have to watch Fox News or CNN.
But I agree too many of us do. And too many of us take it as gospel.
Most of us? I don't know about that.

8. We’re Status-Obsessed And Seek Attention
OK, you got me there.

9. We Are Very Unhealthy
Many -- again, not most -- of us are. But this ignores a very big drive in
this country to get healthier and more fit.

10. We Mistake Comfort For Happiness
Too much one man's opinion to even argue about.

0 Replies
 
aidan
 
  2  
Reply Sat 14 Jul, 2012 08:24 am
1. Few People Are Impressed By Us
I don't know - I've never asked anyone if they are impressed by Americans

2. Few People Hate Us
I didn't think they did, so I hope this is true.

3. We Know Nothing About The Rest Of The World
George said:
'Really we (all of us?) know nothing (not too little, but nothing) about the
rest of the world? Really? Flaming hyperbole here. Yes, the average
American's knowledge of the history and geography of the world is dismal,
but let's not get carried away,'

and I agree.


4. We Are Poor At Expressing Gratitude And Affection
In my own experience, I have to vehemently disagree with this- but I can acknowledge that probably has to do with the individuals I know.

5. The Quality of Life For The Average American Is Not That Great
I'd need to have a definitive picture in my head of the average American in order to compare the quality of life for that prototype as compared to the average person in any other country. I don't have a picture in my head of the 'average American' or the 'average Italian' or the 'average Brit' so I can't accurately compare.
If you're talking about 'middle-class' quality of life - I think that it is good.

6. The Rest Of The World Is Not A Slum-Ridden Shithole Compared To Us
Yeah - well, all anyone who hasn't been somewhere can know about that place is what they see in the news - just as anyone who hasn't been to America can only go by what they see in the news. I think if there are false images or impressions accepted as fact or truth, this is a result of manipulation by the media.

7. We’re Paranoid
He says "You don’t have to watch Fox News or CNN for more than 10
minutes to hear about how our drinking water is going to kill us, our
neighbor is going to rape our children, some terrorist in Yemen is going
to kill us because we didn’t torture him, Mexicans are going to kill us,
or some virus from a bird is going to kill us."

I don't watch Fox News or CNN so I'm not paranoid. I wouldn't classify anyone else I know in America as 'paranoid' either- but I'm sure there are paranoid people I've never met.

8. We’re Status-Obsessed And Seek Attention
Can't disagree with this.

9. We Are Very Unhealthy
I don't know. I know alot of people are heavier than is thought to be healthy.
I do have to admit that now that I've lived somewhere else for eight years, when I eat in restaurants in the US - and I'm not talking about fast food restaurants-even in nice restaurants - I find the food too salty for my taste and the portions too big.

10. We Mistake Comfort For Happiness
Well all I know is that if I'm uncomfortable - cold, hungy, tired, in pain - it's hard for me to be happy. I mean I know I'm happier when if I'm cold, I have hot water for my bath than I am when I turn the tap on and there's no hot water.

How does he know 'most' Americans don't know these things? Did he take a survey or is he relying on stereotypes of the 'typical' or 'average' American? Too general in my opinion.




URL: http://able2know.org/topic/193785-1#post-5044459
panzade
 
  3  
Reply Sat 14 Jul, 2012 08:37 am
Some good rebuttals here from finn, george and aidan.

I'll remind all that this isn't a factual thesis full of facts and figures, but an opinion piece full of hyperbole and a lot of angst.

Still, he hits home on a lot of points when I think of the population at large here in S. Florida.
0 Replies
 
Lash
 
  1  
Reply Sat 14 Jul, 2012 08:39 am
@aidan,
I know, right?! about the first one. Other Americans and I are under the impression that the rest of the world is "impressed" by us? That just sounds like some weird fabricated insult on a playground by someone who's jealous. You think everybody's impressed by you!! <--charge hurled. I think this tells a lot more about the accuser than the accused.
panzade
 
  2  
Reply Sat 14 Jul, 2012 08:54 am
@Lash,
I respectfully disagree Lash.

You and thack I think, have the education and knowledge to know the rest of the world isn't "impressed by us". Whether it's by reading the Economist or perhaps by watching Al Jazeera English, you get a more balanced view of our place in the world.

But I still think there's a mass of Americans that feel the rest of the world is duly impressed by our cultural exports and our military might, just to name a few items.
Lash
 
  2  
Reply Sat 14 Jul, 2012 09:17 am
@panzade,
I guess we have different views on who is "most." "A mass" likely does believe the way you suggest. I disagree that "a mass" is most. Everyone doesn't live in a trailer park.

I wonder - do the Middle East or China look to American news to discover their places in the world? Are we such a clear mirror as Al Jazeera - or the only ones who require one?

I'd love to talk to the author.

IRFRANK
 
  2  
Reply Sat 14 Jul, 2012 09:41 am
1. As Americans, we’re brought up our entire lives being taught that we’re the best, we did everything first and that the rest of the world follows our lead.

That's hard to deny. Many of us don't believe it, but we are bombarded with it. Listen to country music?

2. Americans tend to assume that the rest of the world either loves us or hates us

True for some people. Again, listen to country music.

3. We Know Nothing About The Rest Of The World

Depends upon the group. Country music? (notice a trend?)

4. In our culture, appreciation and affection are implied rather than spoken outright.

That's been true in my experience. I must have been 50 yrs old when I told my dad I loved him. His response? ' Yes, that's understood.' I know he loved me, it just wasn't talked about.



5. The problem with the US is that everyone thinks they are of talent and advantage. As John Steinbeck famously said, the problem with poor Americans is that “they don’t believe they’re poor, but rather temporarily embarrassed millionaires.”

Absolutely true. That's why there are so many poor and middle class republicans.

6. As Americans, we have this naïve assumption that people all over the world are struggling and way behind us.

We are taught that on TV.

7. In the US, security trumps everything, even liberty. We’re paranoid.

We love liberty and freedom. Unless it's the other guy that wants it.

8. We’re status-obsessed. Our culture is built around achievement, production and being exceptional.

We aren't unique in this regard. But we probably do lead the way. Thank TV and advertising.

9 . Unless you have cancer or something equally dire, the health care system in the US sucks.

Yes, but it's free market! Capitalism rules, remember.

10. Our inability to confront anything unpleasant around us has not only created a national sense of entitlement, but it’s disconnected us from what actually drives happiness

I've always seen this as a human thing, not uniquely American. Maybe I'm wrong. We always find someone else to blame for our unhappiness. Hell, I must be happy, look at my SUV !

We could learn from others. Our pride keeps that from happening. I've been to other cultures some, and I would agree in some respects they do have more to offer.

 

Related Topics

 
  1. Forums
  2. » 10 Things Most Americans Don't Know About America
Copyright © 2020 MadLab, LLC :: Terms of Service :: Privacy Policy :: Page generated in 0.03 seconds on 08/07/2020 at 04:11:56