You read the title and I already know what you’re thinking. “Oh please! The world doesn’t care about America! How self-important! You’re so Americanly vain for even thinking that!” But hear me out for a second.
How many times have you heard people complain about the following:
“Why doesn’t America use the metric system like everyone else?”
“Why don’t Americans like football (soccer) like everyone else?”
“Why don’t more Americans listen to EDM like everyone else?”
“Why don’t American men wear capris like everyone else?”
Yes, the world does care about America.
You especially hear this from Europeans. For a group of people that seemingly don’t like America, they sure spend a hell of a lot of time talking about everything American. They talk about how we don’t play the right sports, don’t eat the right foods, don’t listen to the right music, don’t wear the right clothes, don’t use the right rulers, or drink the right beer.
You’re probably nodding your head in understanding. As an American, or anyone, you’ve no doubt heard these common complaints about the US.
For you nay-sayers out there thinking “That doesn’t mean the rest of the world cares about America. We just think what they do is stupid.”…. Really? Really?
Remember that one kid in grade school you never talked to and didn’t care about? Remember you cared so little about what he did that you questioned and griped about his hobbies and interests? No? Me neither.
The truth is that people don’t talk about things they don’t care about. We don’t complain about things we don’t care about. We don’t try to convince someone that they enjoy the wrong sport, if we aren’t at least remotely concerned about their opinion.
The world does care. In fact, everyone else seems to care a lot about what Americans do and don’t do, what Americans like and don’t like.
But Americans on the other hand, don’t care what the world does.
Now think about how often you hear Americans complain that the rest of the world does like soccer? Close to never? Maybe I’m alone here, but in my 27 years of life as an American, with all my American friends, American TV shows, American news channels, and American movies, I’ve never once heard an American question or complain about why the world loves soccer. Why should we? We love football, they love soccer. Who cares if Germany or Brazil loves soccer? Good for them I guess. They found something they like, and we found something we like. All is well in the universe.
For the most part, Americans legitimately don’t give a crap what the rest of the world does or doesn’t do, likes or doesn’t like. We don’t care what you eat, where you live, what your rules are, that you don’t like guns, that your gas is so expensive, or that your cars are so small. We really don’t care.
It used to perplex me why everyone else cares so much, but I think I figured it out.
The world cares the America doesn’t care.
There seems to be a huge emphasis on the notion that Americans ought to be more like everyone else. Since we’re not like everyone else, were often viewed as being isolationists.
And that is the next big epiphany I had. The rest of the world cares that we don’t care. The world cares that Americans don’t mind not being like everyone else. The world cares that Americans march to the beat of their own drum. The rest of the world gets upset when we don’t show up to their party, because we’re having so much damn fun at our own party.
Americans don’t mind being different. Americans don’t mind foregoing otherwise unanimously celebrated events. Americans espouse “American Exceptionalism”. The world calls the United States isolationists because of this, despite our huge global presence. We don’t care, and we’re fine with that, and it bugs the shit out of everyone else. We make music that goes platinum, movies that are block busters, awesome TV shows, businesses that churn profit, Olympians that bring home the gold, and astronauts that land on the moon.
This leads me to my final realization. The rest of the world wishes they were as culturally independent as we are. They hate that they drive American cars, watch American movies, listen to American music on American technology, eat at American food establishments, and speak the American language. They hate that our presence is so prevalent in their country, when their presence is so muted in ours.
When people around the world gripe about America’s preferences and culture, their complaints are not really that they that wish we were more like them. It’s that they wish they were more like us.