10 Things Most Americans Don’t Know About America

10 Things Most Americans Don’t Know About America

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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 (e.g., 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.

A Little “What The Hell Does This Guy Know?” Background: I’ve lived in different parts of the US, both the deep south and the northeast. I have visited most of the US’s 50 states. I’ve spent the past three years living almost entirely outside of the United States. I’ve lived in multiple countries in Europe, Asia and South America. I’ve visited over 40 countries in all and have spent far more time with non-Americans than with Americans during this period. I speak multiple languages. I’m not a tourist. I don’t stay in resorts and rarely stay in hostels. I rent apartments and try to integrate myself into each country I visit as much as possible. So there.

(Note: I realize these are generalizations and I realize there are always exceptions. I get it. You don’t have to post 55 comments telling me that you and your best friend are exceptions. If you really get that offended from some guy’s blog post, you may want to double-check your life priorities.)

OK, we’re ready now. 10 things Americans don’t know about America.

1. Few People Are Impressed By Us

Unless you’re speaking with a real estate agent or a prostitute, chances are they’re not going to be excited that you’re American. It’s not some badge of honor we get to parade around. Yes, we had Steve Jobs and Thomas Edison, but unless you actually are Steve Jobs or Thomas Edison (which is unlikely) then most people around the world are simply not going to care. There are exceptions of course. And those exceptions are called English and Australian people. Whoopdie-fucking-doo.

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. Not only is this not true, but people get irritated when you bring it to their country with you. So don’t.

2. Few People Hate Us

Despite the occasional eye-rolling, and complete inability to understand why anyone would vote for George W. Bush, people from other countries don’t hate us either. In fact — and I know this is a really sobering realization for us — most people in the world don’t really think about us or care about us. I know, that sounds absurd, especially with CNN and Fox News showing the same 20 angry Arab men on repeat for ten years straight. But unless we’re invading someone’s country or threatening to invade someone’s country (which is likely), then there’s a 99.99% chance they don’t care about us. Just like we rarely think about the people in Bolivia or Mongolia, most people don’t think about us much. They have jobs, kids, house payments — you know, those things called lives — to worry about. Kind of like us.

Americans tend to assume that the rest of the world either loves us or hates us (this is actually a good litmus test to tell if someone is conservative or liberal). The fact is, most people feel neither. Most people don’t think much about us.

Remember that immature girl in high school, who every little thing that happened to her meant that someone either hated her or was obsessed with her; who thought every teacher who ever gave her a bad grade was being totally unfair and everything good that happened to her was because of how amazing she was? Yeah, we’re that immature high school girl.

3. We Know Nothing About The Rest Of The World

For all of our talk about being global leaders and how everyone follows us, we don’t seem to know much about our supposed “followers.” They often have completely different takes on history than we do. Here were some brain-stumpers for me: the Vietnamese were more concerned with independence (not us), Hitler was primarily defeated by Russia (not us), there is evidence Native Americans were wiped out largely disease and plague BEFORE Europeans arrived and not just after, and the American Revolution was partly “won” because the British invested more of their resources in beating France (not us). Notice a running theme here?

(Hint: It’s not all about us. The world is more complicated.)

We did not invent democracy. We didn’t even invent modern democracy. There were parliamentary systems in England and other parts of Europe over a hundred years before we created government. In a recent survey of young Americans, 63% could not find Iraq on a map (despite being at war with them), and 54% did not know Sudan was a country in Africa. Yet, somehow we’re positive that everyone else looks up to us.

4. We Are Poor At Expressing Gratitude And Affection

There’s a saying about English-speakers. We say “Go fuck yourself,” when we really mean “I like you,” and we say “I like you,” when we really mean “Go fuck yourself.”

Outside of getting shit-housed drunk and screaming “I LOVE YOU, MAN!”, open displays of affection in American culture are tepid and rare. Latin and some European cultures describe us as “cold” and “passionless” and for good reason. In our social lives we don’t say what we mean and we don’t mean what we say.

In our culture, appreciation and affection are implied rather than spoken outright. Two guy friends call each other names to reinforce their friendship; men and women tease and make fun of each other to imply interest. Feelings are almost never shared openly and freely. Consumer culture has cheapened our language of gratitude. Something like, “It’s so good to see you” is empty now because it’s expected and heard from everybody.

In dating, when I find a woman attractive, I almost always walk right up to her and tell her that a) I wanted to meet her, and b) she’s beautiful. In America, women usually get incredibly nervous and confused when I do this. They’ll make jokes to defuse the situation or sometimes ask me if I’m part of a TV show or something playing a prank. Even when they’re interested and go on dates with me, they get a bit disoriented when I’m so blunt with my interest. Whereas, in almost every other culture approaching women this way is met with a confident smile and a “Thank you.”

5. The Quality of Life For The Average American Is Not That Great

If you’re extremely talented or intelligent, the US is probably the best place in the world to live. The system is stacked heavily to allow people of talent and advantage to rise to the top quickly.

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.” It’s this culture of self-delusion that allows America to continue to innovate and churn out new industry more than anyone else in the world. But this shared delusion also unfortunately keeps perpetuating large social inequalities and the quality of life for the average citizen lower than most other developed countries. It’s the price we pay to maintain our growth and economic dominance.

In my Guide to Wealth, I defined being wealthy as, “Having the freedom to maximize one’s life experiences.” In those terms, despite the average American having more material wealth than citizens of most other countries (more cars, bigger houses, nicer televisions), their overall quality of life suffers in my opinion. American people on average work more hours with less vacation, spend more time commuting every day, and are saddled with over $10,000 of debt. That’s a lot of time spent working and buying crap and little time or disposable income for relationships, activities or new experiences.

6. The Rest Of The World Is Not A Slum-Ridden Shithole Compared To Us

In 2010, I got into a taxi in Bangkok to take me to a new six-story cineplex. It was accessible by metro, but I chose a taxi instead. On the seat in front of me was a sign with a wifi password. Wait, what? I asked the driver if he had wifi in his taxi. He flashed a huge smile. The squat Thai man, with his pidgin English, explained that he had installed it himself. He then turned on his new sound system and disco lights. His taxi instantly became a cheesy nightclub on wheels… with free wifi.

If there’s one constant in my travels over the past three years, it has been that almost every place I’ve visited (especially in Asia and South America) is much nicer and safer than I expected it to be. Singapore is pristine. Hong Kong makes Manhattan look like a suburb. My neighborhood in Colombia is nicer than the one I lived in in Boston (and cheaper).

As Americans, we have this naïve assumption that people all over the world are struggling and way behind us. They’re not. Sweden and South Korea have more advanced high speed internet networks. Japan has the most advanced trains and transportation systems. Norwegians make more money. The biggest and most advanced plane in the world is flown out of Singapore. The tallest buildings in the world are now in Dubai and Shanghai. Meanwhile, the US has the highest incarceration rate in the world.

What’s so surprising about the world is how unsurprising most of it is. I spent a week with some local guys in Cambodia. You know what their biggest concerns were? Paying for school, getting to work on time, and what their friends were saying about them. In Brazil, people have debt problems, hate getting stuck in traffic and complain about their overbearing mothers. Every country thinks they have the worst drivers. Every country thinks their weather is unpredictable. The world becomes, err… predictable.

7. We’re Paranoid

Not only are we emotionally insecure as a culture, but I’ve come to realize how paranoid we are about our physical security. 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. There’s a reason we have more guns than people.

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

I’ve probably been to 10 countries now that friends and family back home told me explicitly not to go because someone was going to kill me, kidnap me, stab me, rob me, rape me, sell me into sex trade, give me HIV, or whatever else. None of that has happened. I’ve never been robbed and I’ve walked through some of the shittiest parts of Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe.

In fact, the experience has been the opposite. In countries like Russia, Colombia or Guatemala, people were so honest and open with me, it actually scared me. Some stranger in a bar would invite me to his house for a barbeque with his family, a random person on the street would offer to show me around and give me directions to a store I was trying to find. My American instincts were always that, “Wait, this guy is going to try to rob me or kill me,” but they never did. They were just insanely friendly.

8. We’re Status-Obsessed And Seek Attention

I’ve noticed that the way we Americans communicate is usually designed to create a lot of attention and hype. Again, I think this is a product of our consumer culture: the belief that something isn’t worthwhile or important unless it’s perceived to be the best (BEST EVER!!!) or unless it gets a lot of attention (see: every reality-television show ever made).

This is why Americans have a peculiar habit of thinking everything is “totally awesome,” and even the most mundane activities were “the best thing ever!” It’s the unconscious drive we share for importance and significance, this unmentioned belief, socially beaten into us since birth that if we’re not the best at something, then we don’t matter.

We’re status-obsessed. Our culture is built around achievement, production and being exceptional. Therefore comparing ourselves and attempting to out-do one another has infiltrated our social relationships as well. Who can slam the most beers first? Who can get reservations at the best restaurant? Who knows the promoter to the club? Who dated a girl on the cheerleading squad? Socializing becomes objectified and turned into a competition. And if you’re not winning, the implication is that you are not important and no one will like you.

9. We Are Very Unhealthy

Unless you have cancer or something equally dire, the health care system in the US sucks. The World Health Organization ranked the US 37th in the world for health care, despite the fact that we spend the most per capita by a large margin.

The hospitals are nicer in Asia (with European-educated doctors and nurses) and cost a tenth as much. Something as routine as a vaccination costs multiple hundreds of dollars in the US and less than $10 in Colombia. And before you make fun of Colombian hospitals, Colombia is 28th in the world on that WHO list, nine spots higher than us.

A routine STD test that can run you over $200 in the US is free in many countries to anyone, citizen or not. My health insurance the past year? $65 a month. Why? Because I live outside of the US. An American guy I met living in Buenos Aires got knee surgery on his ACL that would have cost $10,000 in the US… for free.

But this isn’t really getting into the real problems of our health. Our food is killing us. I’m not going to go crazy with the details, but we eat chemically-laced crap because it’s cheaper and tastes better (profit, profit). Our portion sizes are absurd (more profit). And we’re by far the most prescribed nation in the world AND our drugs cost five to ten times more than they do even in Canada (ohhhhhhh, profit, you sexy bitch).

In terms of life expectancy, despite being the richest country in the world, we come in a paltry 38th. Right behind Cuba, Malta and the United Arab Emirates, and slightly ahead of Slovenia, Kuwait and Uruguay. Enjoy your Big Mac.

10. We Mistake Comfort For Happiness

The United States is a country built on the exaltation of economic growth and personal ingenuity. Small businesses and constant growth are celebrated and supported above all else — above affordable health care, above respectable education, above everything. Americans believe it’s your responsibility to take care of yourself and make something of yourself, not the state’s, not your community’s, not even your friend’s or family’s in some instances.

Comfort sells easier than happiness. Comfort is easy. It requires no effort and no work. Happiness takes effort. It requires being proactive, confronting fears, facing difficult situations, and having unpleasant conversations.

Comfort equals sales. We’ve been sold comfort for generations and for generations we bought: bigger houses, separated further and further out into the suburbs; bigger TV’s, more movies, and take-out. The American public is becoming docile and complacent. We’re obese and entitled. When we travel, we look for giant hotels that will insulate us and pamper us rather than for legitimate cultural experiences that may challenge our perspectives or help us grow as individuals.

Depression and anxiety disorders are soaring within the US. 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: relationships, unique experiences, feeling self-validated, achieving personal goals. It’s easier to watch a NASCAR race on television and tweet about it than to actually get out and try something new with a friend.

Unfortunately, a by-product of our massive commercial success is that we’re able to avoid the necessary emotional struggles of life in lieu of easy superficial pleasures.

Throughout history, every dominant civilization eventually collapsed because it became TOO successful. What made it powerful and unique grows out of proportion and consumes its society. I think this is true for American society. We’re complacent, entitled and unhealthy. My generation is the first generation of Americans who will be worse off than their parents, economically, physically and emotionally. And this is not due to a lack of resources, to a lack of education or to a lack of ingenuity. It’s corruption and complacency. The corruption from the massive industries that control our government’s policies, and the fat complacency of the people to sit around and let it happen.

There are things I love about my country. I don’t hate the US and I still return to it a few times a year. But I think the greatest flaw of American culture is our blind self-absorption. In the past it only hurt other countries. But now it’s starting to hurt ourselves.

So this is my lecture to my alcoholic brother — my own flavor of arrogance and self-absorption, even if slightly more informed — in hopes he’ll give up his wayward ways. I imagine it’ll fall on deaf ears, but it’s the most I can do for now. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some funny cat pictures to look at.

Note: My responses to common criticisms can be found here.
Double Note: If you’re young and live in the US and want to know why you should work abroad, go here

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3,154 Comments

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  • Reply

    Tim

    4 days ago

    I’m only 22 and have lived here in the USA for my whole life and have visited Mexico once so this comment may hold no water whatsoever. But this article is exactly what I’ve told people is the problem with our country. In my opinion the people have become so materialistic to be happy by showing off what they have instead of taking in what they already do to see themselves they’re doing fine. If you don’t have the whole damn public gawking at you and your belongings you feel like you don’t have anything to live for. I personally could give a damn less about what others think to be happy, I have my group of friends that have their own things, and if I like something they have that I don’t, cool, maybe one day I’ll get it but if not it’s no big deal because there are people worse off than me. Anyway to get off my pointless rant, this article reminds me of the pilot episode of the show “The Newsroom” where that one character rants on how America is not the greatest country in the world anymore. “The first step to fixing a problem is admitting there is a problem” my question is when will America realize that there really is a problem that is going to catch up on this country sooner or later? I love being patriotic, hell I was born here and I have no problem saying I was, but American ideals are going so far out of proportion that it’s becoming harder and harder for me to be proud to say I’m from this country. This may just be me, but it’s time for eyes to be opened, I’m in the worst generation for this country where I will be screwed in the future because no one will know what to do in the event that something little fails that could be easily fixed by an average ordinary joe, but the media will blow it up to the point where there will be a panic and everything will fall apart. Sorry for the paragraph, but Mark hit this nail right on the head, and I felt that if anywhere, this will be the place to let my feelings out. Thank you Mark, I’ll be reading your stories a lot more often now.

  • Reply

    melissa parker

    4 days ago

    Awesome! I certainly enjoy reading all that is written on your blog. I love this idea! Thank you.

  • Reply

    ShaniaP

    4 days ago

    I also am an American living abroad and have visited many countries and cultures. I generally agree with most of these comments but one I strongly agree with is #3. I get so embarrassed sometimes by how little my fellow Americans know about the rest of the world. The USA is not the worlds navel and our kids need to seriously learn some geography and also discover that just because another culture lives differently, that doesn’t mean they are beneath us. One I strongly disagree with is #4. I’ve always found Americans to be very open with their emotions, whether they love you or hate you. (ok, not in New England) It’s one of the things I miss as I now live in Norway where no one shows feelings. I miss compassion and individuality. I miss the passion for friends and family and dreams even the blaze of real anger. People here are shut very tightly and I miss the showing of real feelings that I experienced in the U.S. But you have a lot of truth here that unfortunately, Americans aren’t going to like hearing :-)

  • Reply

    Jamie Goodman

    4 days ago

    I not only dislike this article, I disagree with it. Almost everything you thought us Americans did not know, I knew. It’s called being educated. Do you really think this is something you needed to write? I believe you are insulting Americans intelligence by writing this. I understand how other countries are. I know I am fortunate to be an American. I am conservative and yes, I voted for George W. Bush…twice.

    • Reply

      john

      4 days ago

      @ Jamie Goodman, I rest his Case….LOL

  • Reply

    American Abroad

    4 days ago

    I only agree with your comments about the US health care system. I have been living in Spain for 25 years and there is health care for everyone. The US is light years behind in that aspect. Don’t agree with any of the other comments.

  • Reply

    Jasmine Towner

    4 days ago

    Want to keep this short and sweet. I’m an American woman and I found this read well written from grand life experiences, humorous and very true. Very refreshing to read the truth. Keep blogging, your mind is a wonderful place!

  • Reply

    Brith Hongset

    4 days ago

    I – a Norwegian, spent one year in the USA, on Long Island and in Florida. My family and I got aquainted with nice people both places, so I can assure you that the people we met were very friendly and helpful. – The article above may be correct as a main tendency, – this American pride in achievements seem to be true.One lady told a lot about her children who were well educaded and having nice jobs and less about the daughter who chose to work in a home for poor , young women for little payment. Furthermore some friends in their Christmascards were eager to tell that their children were nr. 1 i football, were chosen as chairman and so on. To SHANIAH (?) who spent time in Norway : I wonder what part of Norway you lived in. The people in our capital, Oslo, may perhaps seem cold and cool, showing no feelings. In other parts of Norway, especiall in the north, people are usually outgoing , open and heartily (as I suppose also is the case many more remote places in the USA.) – - The main points of the article , I am sorry to sa, may start creeping into our societ as well, parallell to our increasing wealth . .

    • Reply

      ShaniaP

      3 days ago

      Hei Brith, I live an hour outside of Oslo and have lived here for 24 years now. Though I have involved myself in many different clubs, groups and organizations, I have not made any close friends. They all have their groups here and though they can be courteous, I have not experienced the warmth or hospitality that I have experienced in the U.S., Spain, Netherlands or other places. I am fairly average, not the life of the party but not a negative complainer either. I am not loud (Americans get called that a lot) I have many interests and hobbies. I speak the language now so well that people will guess that I’m from northern Norway (er du Nordlending??) instead of an American. I’ve learned both the history and mythology of my adopted home. I’ve also traveled here extensively so I’ve met many people and seen much beauty. But it seems that if you aren’t “one of them” you are not accepted in the inner circle of friends. I’ve been advised of which great malls, restaurants, museums…etc to visit but never been invited with them to these places. If there is any contact, it’s because I call….not them. There are about 12 Americans living in the county I live in and we get together with our families and bbq on the beach or visit each other at home and this always comes up, how difficult it is to make friends here. But I have a great husband and my children are born and raised here and this is my home now. It may be true that Americans measure and have to let others know of their success and the success of their children but when I think about it, I would rather dream big than live by “janteloven”, which is a sad reality here in Norway.

  • Reply

    Mark Manson

    3 days ago

    To all of the commenters claiming that I’m misrepresenting Americans or stereotyping them unfairly:

    http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2014/04/a-majority-of-americans-question-the-science-of-the-big-bang/360976/

    51% of Americans don’t believe in the big bang. 42% don’t believe in evolution.

    And then there’s this:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/monkey-cage/wp/2014/04/07/the-less-americans-know-about-ukraines-location-the-more-they-want-u-s-to-intervene/

  • Reply

    mark g

    3 days ago

    Almost spot on, except number 1, English aren’t impressed either, and I would be surprised bus Aussies were either.

  • Reply

    Adele

    3 days ago

    If you don’t like it here in USA, please go somewhere else to live !
    Thank you !

    • Reply

      Andrew

      2 days ago

      I hope this was written with heavy sarcasm. He has lived elsewhere you blithering idiot. He’s absolutely right about most of this, in my opinion of course, and people like you are the ones perpetuating our ignorance. Do everyone a favor and stop voicing your opinion. It might save a few from becoming more like you.

  • Reply

    Jemma

    2 days ago

    Nice take on a global issue that plagues most “mature” markets. I’m French and proud of many things my own country as achieved (such as the fastest train in the world, which is actually French ;) as well as being an instigator of the EU).
    However, I moved to the UK about a year ago as I was growing weary of my own culture. I have been travelling a bit beforehand throughout Europe, Asia and a tiny bit of Canada, and that was quite the eye opener: nothing we believe to be universally true is, except for caring for the people around you. But that conception has been put to the test in London, where each person needs to fend for themselves – although I sometimes miss the warmth of sharing closer relationships, I’m glad I got round to travelling and living out of my comfort zone and I think it is crucial for anyone who wants to understand their own culture better. And guess what? I can’t wait to be back on the road!
    Most of the points you raise apply to other cultures as well (except for healthcare and food, that’s really a US problem) so well done – it is interesting to read someone who’s sensible about the little role their culture plays on an international scale (and although you regularly make fun of us, we still don’t hate the US. We’re that cool :P)

  • Reply

    Mark

    2 days ago

    To quote a recent television commercial series, “Thanks, Captain Obvious”. Your comments are unique in that you manage to display a keen sense of the obvious AND be incredibly sophomoric all at once. We Americans are self-absorbed? Really?? I’d never have guessed.

  • Reply

    Marie Schorn

    2 days ago

    I’m curious, what specific behaviors cause you to feel disdain for americans? How are we different from other English speaking cultures?

  • Reply

    Jacob

    2 days ago

    Your article was very interesting to read. I agreed with most of your points. However, I couldn’t disagree more with the last point. What you’ve described is an introvert. Frankly, some people find happiness in the comfort of their solitude. There’s nothing wrong with that. Do you know how many jobs out there would never be done if we were all extremely extroverted? We need a good balance of different types of people for our country to function. Other countries don’t have only one type of person in them. If they do, then they’re the ones with a problem.

  • Reply

    Desiree

    2 days ago

    Great writing and unbelivably true….and all the reasons i’ve spent all my money traveling and why, in one month, I’ll be moving to Hong Kong for the next couple of years. This country has gotten way out of hand , mostly with cost of living and poor wages, and I can’t get by here. I’ll be making three times more money in HK just as an assistant teacher. My first trip abroad to mainland China…I went to some of the most rural, poor, and underdeveloped places…no tourist crap for me…and I was happier there than I had ever been in the US.

  • Reply

    Greg

    2 days ago

    Wow! I wish I wrote that. I write some pretty good stuff but this was amazingly accurate.
    Like you, I’ve traveled the world and when I used to return from a foreign land it would always
    feel good to be back home, back to “normal” where everything was familiar and comforting.
    Not any more. When I’m “over there” I find myself more and more saying, Man – those people
    back home are totally out of touch with the truly important things in life. Almost everything I hear
    people talking about these days I can file under “so what?” But when you’re over there people really
    talk to you about important and interesting things. You come away from even the most ordinary
    conversation thinking “Wow! I just heard some real nuggets of truth there – I should have written that down!”
    In North America people are obsessed with celebrity and wealth. How sad, as that really does get in the way
    of enjoying your family, friends and neighbours for who they are – not what they have. Anyway, you may have
    hit a nerve with your article but these were things needed to be said so thanks for having the courage to do that.
    People are learning more and more these days that you can’t voice your opinion unless it’s 100% PC or there
    are consequences. You state the truth at your own peril. If we don’t do something to change that just imagine
    what North American society will be like in a decade. I think it’s time to book that one way ticket before our western
    society implodes!

  • Reply

    J Gallagher

    2 days ago

    Though I disagree with your comments above, I respect them. That’s what makes this wonderful country what it is…we can have that difference of opinion and go on our merry way. Rock on. I love this country through its issues and dare say the American people aren’t the cause for most of them. I think we can say safely it is a place in the world with much better living conditions than many other throughout the world. I’m proud and thankful to live in a country with those opportunities.

    But I do have to ask, you say the question is who voted for Bush twice? That’s half the issue…who the hell voted for Obummer twice?? Our perception of America in the world won’t get much better with him at the healm.

    Rock on America, rock on….

  • Reply

    Marie Schorn

    2 days ago

    What I’m curious about are examples of American behavior abroad that cause others to disdain us.
    There have been many mentions of typical American behavior. What are some of these
    behaviors? How are they different from the way other English speakers behave?

    • Reply

      lm

      1 day ago

      For example, I was in Paris, walking along the Seine, and I stopped to look at a young artist exhibiting his wares. He was obviously an art student, but had some interesting pieces. A group of American tourists walked by, I’d guess Texan by the accent, and one of them loudly said “And look at this crap these people mistake for art, being sold out here to scam tourists. They’re all out to screw us!” To say it was rude was an understatement, and the poor student turned beet red – he clearly had no difficulty understanding what had been said. I called out the man on his comments, and called him rude, to which he shrugged, and said something to the effect that if the french didn’t like it, too bad. So basically he was a rude guest in the country. Unfortunately, these are the ones who come across as representatives of the US, while the more respectful ones do not insult their ‘hosts’ in their own ‘home’ and do not attract this kind of attention, so might not get the public label of ‘hey, we’re American, too, so you can use us to counteract the impression that you have that all Americans are rude”…. I have a large number of these stories I could share.

  • Reply

    Victoria

    1 day ago

    What a wonderful post and I suspect that it’s going to generate a lot of controversy.

    I’ve been living abroad for nearly 20 years now. I went from Seattle to Paris to Tokyo and back to Paris. Worked in Asia and worked in Europe. I wasn’t rich when I left the US – I had to sell my 1960-something Volvo to get the money for the plane ticket – and I’m not rich now. But I’ve done OK and I’m happy. My motto is “Love where you are from and bloom where you are planted.” Life, overall, is not better or worse abroad – it’s just different.

    I don’t know what my life would have been like if I had stayed in the US because that is the road I never travelled. But the things that I really care about I’ve found that I can have them ANYWHERE. :-)

  • Reply

    whatsthisthen

    22 hours ago

    I take exception with your claim that English people and Australian people think America is great – we don’t. As a Brit who has been living in the States for three years one of the most irritating things I frequently experience is generalizations about ‘Europeans’ or – worse- ‘foreigners’

  • Reply

    Wim

    13 hours ago

    I like the article. Very well written. Now offer some more solution.

    By that I simply mean that it’s easy to criticize – even if it is justified. Coming up with a concrete solution or even offering some “first steps” would lead me to believe that you’d thought about the solution in addition to the problem. Saying, “Give up your wayward ways” is a platitude. I’m on the 43rd page of the responses to this post, so it’s affected enough people that cared to respond. Take that audience that you’ve reached and offer a solution or a path or even a “get out of your damn house for an hour” suggestion and help move the needle back in the direction you want to see for America.

  • Reply

    John

    12 hours ago

    You nailed it. Though I am not well traveled it is refreshing to find someone of the same opinions.

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