13 Things That Americans Do That The Rest Of The World Just Finds Bizarre

Discussion in 'Other U.S. Destinations' started by sobore, Jun 21, 2013.  |  Print Topic

  1. sobore
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    sobore Gold Member

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    http://www.businessinsider.com/thin...seem-just-bizarre-to-the-outside-world-2013-5

    A thread on Reddit asks the question: Non-Americans of reddit, what aspect of American culture strikes you as the strangest?
    Some of the answers are pretty hilarious and/or eye-opening.
    Here are some of the best:

    1. Driving everywhere

    How big the country is and the amount of time you guys are willing to drive. I had a friend who drove for 16 hours to visit family for the weekend. It's baffling. --

    [​IMG]

    2. Being able to buy anything you want at Wal-Mart

    A friend came from the UK and he said Wal-mart was the weirdest thing, you could buy 24 rolls of toilet paper and a 12 gauge shotgun in the same store. -- Teaching_man
    I was not aware that you can buy guns in supermarkets in America. I thought you had to go to a dedicated gun store for that. Boy was I wrong.

    [​IMG]

    Read More: http://www.businessinsider.com/thin...seem-just-bizarre-to-the-outside-world-2013-5
     
  2. uggboy
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    uggboy Gold Member

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    In many instances, bizarre indeed. :D

     
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  3. kyunbit
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    kyunbit Silver Member

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    Add mandatory tipping to that list.

    Tipping in US is not to show thanks for great service but to prevent from getting a bad service. It always baffled me why some people would like to be bribed with a few dollars to do their job properly!
     
  4. milchap
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    milchap Gold Member

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    Diversity of opinion......
     
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  5. jbcarioca
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    jbcarioca Gold Member

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    Every one of these sounds right to me. I was born in the US but have lived elsewhere more than half of my life. The US' exceptionalism is evident inn all these ways, but the single oddest one to me is the religious fervor in public life. The only remotely comparable experience I have had is in Pakistan which seems similar to me. Oddly, other countries known for religious extremism seem to me to usually be more tolerant than the US.

    However, when we list such things we also should remember that there is an impressive list of positive things too.
    1. One can reinvent oneself very easily in the US, easier than anywhere else.
    2. Despite constant arguments about immigration the US is the premier place of opportunity for immigrants.
    There are many others. People I know are often amazing at the possibilities for innovation in the US despite all the criticism. I sometimes think that the 'creative destruction' might be part of a potentially enduring societal force. On a pessimistic day I do not see it quite that way.
     
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  6. beofotch
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    beofotch Silver Member

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    The USA was truly exceptional when we were the freest country in the world. It was our freedoms and respect for the natural law and natural rights. Regrettably, now that we have eroded our freedoms slowly and steadily we are not that much different nor exceptional from other countries.
     
  7. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    Just move to Canada.

    Oh... Wait... http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2013/06/24/oh_canada
     
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  8. jbcarioca
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    jbcarioca Gold Member

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    It is by no means clear that the US was ever "the freest country...". That does not diminish the accomplishments of the US, nor those of the successive generations of immigrants and people born in the USA. It seems to me that making a claim of exceptionalism diminishes the very freedoms embodied in the US Bill of Rights. No country is ever perfect. Sadly, the US has a periodic frenzy of ill-considered moralistic fervor that erodes those freedoms Americans claim to cherish.

    From the 1950's Red-baiting to the current campaigns to introduce more religious principles in a country built on the strict separation of religion from governance there seems to have been an increasing inability of US society to tolerate different views. That now has made effective action by the US Congress seem to be impossible. That intransigence was last seen to such dramatic negative effect in the 1850's leading to a civil war.

    The only clear freedoms now are a nearly unlimited ability to arm oneself with any weapons of choice and the ability to express ones views. The latter one is more safely done on an internet BB, out of range from the former.
     
  9. bez7
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    bez7 Gold Member

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    Yet the USA remains a bastion of freedoms and opportunity, at least for those who are Capitalist-ly minded. We are in no way immune to the same problems that plague the rest of the world but we are very able to recover from our problems and rise higher than we were before.

    There are many good places to live in the world but, for me, it's hard to choose something other than the USA.
     
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  10. Maximizer

    Maximizer Silver Member

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    Bribing someone just to get their job done is quite common in many countries. That's not an excuse for the American tipping culture, but I'm glad that in America this practice is mostly confined to tipping :)
     
  11. jbcarioca
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    jbcarioca Gold Member

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    Notwithstanding other issues, the US remains one of the easiest major countries in which to reinvent yourself should you wish to do so. It is also quite easy to start businesses, and operate them successfully.
    The negatives remain ageing infrastructure, horribly expensive, slow and inefficient medical services and poor primary and secondary education systems.
    It is odd that the US is definitely the leader in new medical technology, but such technologies are often deployed to better effect in other countries. US civil engineering skill are world class, competing well with the handful of other leaders, but almost all taht expertise is used in other countries rather than in improvements in the US.
    I can easily understand why many people want to live in the US, why many people want to emigrate to the US.
    The "Capitalist" orientation is not one of those reasons, I think. The US has chosen a fairly regressive taxation scheme, even in, say, Massachusetts, that confers great benefits to people who can classify their income as anything other than earned income. I do not think of that as a "Capitalist" system as much as I do one of "Private Capital". That system has rewarded me well, so I should not complain, but many people choosing to pursue an industrial business dream find several other countries far more attractive.
    To be sure, my views probably are not the prototypical USA views, even though two of my antecedents were passengers on the Mayflower I have chosen to live outside the US most of my life. Almost all of my business success was also outside the US, protected from taxation by those amazing US tax laws.
    As I see it those "freedoms" are more about "license" than freedom, and the opportunity is obviously available to people who understand crucial parts of the tax code.
    That myth is perpetuated principally because people who deploy their wealth and power with sufficient care can often have laws tailored to their particular desires. Legally. Just think about 'earmarks' and Congressional budget allocations. These are not the crude bribes of other countries, they are subversions of the system for the special benefit of a chosen few, done semi-openly, and almost ignored by the great mass of people. That is certainly corrupt by most moral measures, but it is not illegal.

    That said, I have never paid a single centavo in bribes here in Brazil, where i live, which is famous for petty corruption. The large-scale corruption here differed from taht of the US largely because the Brazilians simply do not bother to get the laws changed to legitimise their offences.

    Anybody thinking about oil depletion allowances, corporate farm subsidies and accelerated depreciation rules can see the hand of socialism for the wealthy and capitalism for the poor in the US today. As Dwight Eisenhower said about one aspect of these distortions, "Beware the military Industrial complex".

    Finally, to repeat myself to a degree, I do like the USA and I am pleased to be a citizen of the USA. It has been very good to me. I have never felt freer in the US than in many other countries. I abhor the notion of American exceptionalism because it consistently makes the US act as if it somehow has moral superiority. That it does not is amply demonstrated by Hiroshima, the Iraq war and Guantanamo. That does not make the US bad, it simply proves that the US is a country like other countries.
     
  12. Maximizer

    Maximizer Silver Member

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    jbcarioca, easy there, way to go off on a tangent ;)

    Yes, some legalized corruption in the US is rampant and very destructive. I don't know what the data says, but It seems quite plausible that budget allocation corruption is as bad in the US as in other places. The federal budget is huge, and the more money there is to give away, the more political corruption you can expect. Power corrupts everywhere.

    But I was simply replying to someone's incredulity about "bribing" (i.e., tipping) restaurant workers to get their job done, by pointing out that, in fact, bribing people to get their job done is not unheard of in many parts of the world. It is a type of corruption that involves the everyday activities of ordinary citizens. It is a very tangible aspect of local culture, which is what the original article was discussing. And it is largely absent from American culture.
     
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  13. jbcarioca
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    jbcarioca Gold Member

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    You are correct on all points, IMHO, including my penchant for tangental topics.:eek:
     
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  14. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    One exception, to bring this back on topic of travel, seems to be found at the front desk of hotels where some folks find it acceptable to "acquire" an upgrade with a "tip" to the front desk clerk.
     
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  15. B1BomberVB

    B1BomberVB Silver Member

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    So true, Beofotch #6! In 1776 the USA was unique in rejecting the Divine Right of Kings & the concept of noble titles, then advancing toward the concept of rule "by the just consent of the governed." But since then many other countries have learned from our example, followed our lead & even improved on concepts of liberty. So often it's a choice between the original vs. the new & improved!
     

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