Friday, June 25, 2010

10 Surprises for Foreigners and Asians who think America is very open, expressive and wild (like in the movies)


It always amazes me how many foreigners, especially in Asia, still think that America is very "open, expressive and wild" simply because of Hollywood's bald faced lies and false portrayals of reality. Nothing could be further from the truth. There are so many real life testimonies by immigrants which testify to the exact opposite, that it's amazing that this myth persists.

This perception in Asia obviously comes from Hollywood movies, which portray America as a fun, carefree culture where everyone is expressive, emotional, wild, loose, having a good time, very sociable and communicative toward others.

But movies tend to portray the opposite of reality, especially in this case. In reality, yes, America is great for getting a good paying job, as foreigners believe. However, when it comes to dating, love, romance, human connection, social inclusiveness, America is one of the WORST places for such things. For some reason, this fact isn't well publicized, even though most immigrants in America know about it and share it by word of mouth. (See what many immigrants and foreigners have said about it in their own words) Thus, oddly enough, the mythos continues to persist that America is very open and expressive, even though it's been long debunked.

So for all those Foreigners and Asians who think Americans are like the actors shown in the movies, here are some revealing links and videos to show them about the real America - a land of isolation and social disconnectedness, where people in general do not like each other, prefer to be alone, and do not like to be bothered.

1. First, check out my friend Steve Hoca's video rant about me called "Winston Wu is right: Americans are socially disconnected" where he expresses his frustration at the complete lack of human connection in modern day America:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=REKN7y53OCI

2. Next, see these video clips by my friend Kyle from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he shows firsthand with a hidden camera, how hard it is to talk to strangers in America or say hello to them. Watch him try to greet people on the street. See how different the reality is compared to the movies.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=REuWyftROA4

3. Here is a short documentary about "The Seattle Freeze" and about how difficult it is to make friends in Seattle, Washington. Several people in the film talk about their experiences there.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=roC_nsdyi1I

4. In fact, the major newspaper in Seattle, The Seattle Times, did a story about how hard it is to make friends in Seattle, documenting the "Seattle Freeze" phenomenon as real. You can read the story at:

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/pacificnw/2005/0213/cover.html

5. I also have personal evidence of the isolation and disconnectedness in Seattle. Check out these photos I took on a Seattle ferry (same one as in the top above) compared to the ones I took on a ferry in Riga, Lativa (Eastern Europe). The Seattle ferry photos show you the real America that Hollywood never shows you - where people prefer to be alone, isolated, disconnected and not bothered, because they simply do not like other people. It depicts how people are in most public places in America. Notice the difference: While the Seattle people are isolated in their own private bubbles, the people on the ferry in Latvia are dancing together, even in the middle of the day.

http://intellectualexpat.blogspot.com/2008/01/ferry-photos-seattle-vs-riga-latvia.html

6. Here is a revealing article by Little India magazine about how isolated, lonely and disconnected Indian immigrants in America feel, many of which regret coming to the US and miss the warm connections in their home country:

http://www.littleindia.com/august2004/UnhappyinAmerica.htm

7. Next, check out this big collection of quotes and comments about America I put together from immigrants and foreigners who have been there. As you can see, they describe it as anything but "open, friendly and expressive."

http://www.happierabroad.com/ebook/Page32.htm

8. These are some news articles that report on the growing problem of loneliness in America, describing it as an epidemic that is hazardous to health:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/06/22/AR2006062201763_pf.html

http://www.livescience.com/health/060331_loneliness.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/02/weekinreview/02fountain.html

9. Here is my own video lecture about how unnatural it is to try to meet people in America and talk to strangers, and how there is no sense of social or human connection there. See part 1 of my video lecture series here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xsDbEwmCMz0

10. Finally, my friend and cultural advisor, a former US immigrant who speaks 10 languages and has lived in 9 countries long-term, made this observation about what the biggest culture shock in the US is, which says it all:

http://www.happierabroad.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=8855

"I think generally, the biggest culture shock that people experience in the US is not between their country and the US but between what they thought the US would be and what it actually is. Books and movies about America make the place appear very free and exciting and happening and the people are so interesting and emotional. There is sex and fun and romance going on. When they arrive, the place looks very conservative and the people appear robotic and quiet. Sex is subdued and hard to come by. The people are not open at all, they look closed and mistrustful. Everybody is just working and looking tired and apathetic. Talking to strangers is taboo. There are thousands of little rules and laws and social mores that seem as dogmatic and strict as those in a Muslim society. And every time you are at risk of breaking yet another law and facing very dire consequences. That is the biggest culture shock of all."


Here are some more posts in my forum about how different America is in reality compared to the media portrayal of it.

http://www.happierabroad.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=23902#23902

"And by the way, I am back in the matrix and miserable about it. Can't talk to strangers, can't make eye contact, neighbors don't interact, social groups in public do not interact or over lap, extreme social cliqishness, nothing going on for social life in the community, women unapproachable to the point that it feels taboo to talk to them at all, and lonely, isolated lives are standard, people spend more time with a TV than with people, and the relationships/dating scene here and the disintigration of family, marriage, and community is downright shocking.

Just seeing how my family members live on in this isolated and dysfunctional matrix, oblivious to what a wonderful, open, natural welcoming social life exists outside of the US, depresses me. I can't wait to get out myself. And so I have a lot of work to do on not letting that whole mess consume me now while trying to get enough healthy human contact to stay sane in this incredibly frigid and mistrustful and disconnected social atmosphere."

http://www.happierabroad.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=7510

"This is not the picture that Hollywood beams into billions of households around the world. In it, women on roller skates in bikinis zoom through suburbs and cities and at the first beck and call go with you to the nearest motel for a roll in the hay for no money at all. This is how everybody sees America around the world.
I see America now as Iran or Saudi Arabia in terms of female availability, if not worse. Because in the latter the local men will have girls lined up by family connections- meetings will be arranged and a wedding date with a virgin bride will be set as soon as you are ready. In other Muslim countries that are cheaper, it will be even easier. Yeah the girls are dressed modestly all right but you will soon get married to a a good girl who will be open only to you.

The great deception that Hollywood pulls on the world public is monstrous."

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"Your right, when I watch sitcoms on tv, the women are always friendly towards men, they flirt with men and are easy to ask out and sleep with. Watching American made movies are the same. The women are friendly, approachable, smile a lot and will easily give a man her phone number! Now we all know this is NOT reality, it's a fantasy that Hollywood puts out.

When is the last time a single woman in America flirted with you? Or when was the last time a single woman in America started a conversation with you?

For most guys the answer is either NEVER or ALMOST NEVER! Women in America ignore men, even if the guy is good looking. Of course, tv shows and movies in America show women as friendly and flirtacious with men. NOTHING can be further from the truth!"

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So you see, the mythos that Asians have of America being so "open, expressive and friendly" is a fiction and illusion created by Hollywood, not actual reality. Sorry to disappoint them.

Feel free to forward this page to other Asians or foreigners you know who think America is "open, expressive and friendly".

The good news is that there are many cultures in the world that really are open, friendly, sociable and inclusive, where you can make friends easily or get dates without having to break into closed cliques, joining schools and organizations, or being introduced by friends. I have experienced them myself. I will tell you where they are:

- Latin America and Mexico (very open and friendly and easy to meet people)
- Russia (very open and friendly and easy to meet people)
- Half of Europe (some European cultures are more open while others are more reserved)
- China (very direct and open with strangers)
- Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia, known as Southeast Asia (very open and friendly and easy to meet people)
- Africa (very open and friendly and easy to meet people)
- Australia (not super friendly but more so than America)
- England, France and Germany (some say these countries are very socially open, but others disagree, the opinions are mixed)

On the other hand, here are countries that are more socially closed, where people do not talk to strangers and it takes work to break into cliques, making it far more difficult and unnatural to meet people and make friends:

- America and Canada (generally non-inclusive, isolated and disconnected, but not always)
- Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Korea, NE Asia (highly repressed and conservative, socially closed and cliquish, but white people will get more attention there)
- Sweden, Finland, Norway (Scandinavian people are reputed to be cold and stoic)