Growing up in the US as a first-generation minority, I frequently came across instances where my parents objected to certain behaviors that they simply brushed off with “Ehhh, they’re American.” The general patterns of these behaviors involved
- demanding attention,
- being loud,
- showing off,
- focusing on status (a girl in high school would name-drop the various luxury cars she drove to school; a parent of my brother’s teammate kept bugging my mom to find out where I was going to college),
- and (to use an old-fashioned phrase that has gotten me laughed at) putting on airs as if you’re better than everyone else.
In our family, these kinds of behaviors are wrong and bad. Since my family was foreign, though, I catalogued these “Americanisms” into a separate cultural paradigm and didn’t attach any strong value judgment to them — I simply thought that I should not behave “like an American” because I was clearly not one, and if my mom ever saw me doing those things, I’d catch it.
As I’ve grown older, I’ve modified my views. I do think it’s wrong to brag and to be self-absorbed. I know some people whose favorite pastime is patting themselves on the back for some particular accomplishment, while smugly criticizing a generic mass of “other people” for not achieving the same. They happen to exemplify, for me, the stereotypic “America” to which the author of this article refers.
A caveat from the author:
(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.)