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The nature of replies to foreigners on this forum (and other forums)

Aunt Spiker

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I'm not pointing fingers, calling people out or saying names . . . I'm just discussing something I've noticed.

Why is it that when someone from another country comes to this forum - a serious debate forum (and other forums - this isn't the only one I've seen this happen in) - and asks a question or makes a statement, obviously wanting to satisfy curiosity or understand something that they don't get about American culture (etc etc, you get my point) . . . People seem compelled to respond to them with the most ridiculous and asinine comments?

I really don't care how stupid or silly their question, debate or issue might *seem* to us - we should still show others a bit of respect and at least take a serious effort at explaining the issue or answering their question.

You know - just maybe some people could grow up for a moment with their responses?
Perhaps if we all replied maturely and seriously to their comments and questions they might come away from their occasional shoulder-brush with Americans with a more favorable opinion.

Anyone agree or see what I see?
 

1069

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People are more worried about being played for fools, than about coming off as assholes.
They think some of these "foreigners" are trolls, asking stupid questions so that they can laugh at us when we try to answer them earnestly.

As for myself personally, I can promise that I wouldn't think less of anyone who attempted to respond to a foreigner's question or comment politely and earnestly, even if that foreigner later turned out to be a troll, and made fun of the respondent.
There is no shame in trying to be helpful and cordial to strangers, even if your helpfulness and cordiality is met by mockery and ridicule. At least you tried.
 
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tryreading

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I'm not pointing fingers, calling people out or saying names . . . I'm just discussing something I've noticed.

Why is it that when someone from another country comes to this forum - a serious debate forum (and other forums - this isn't the only one I've seen this happen in) - and asks a question or makes a statement, obviously wanting to satisfy curiosity or understand something that they don't get about American culture (etc etc, you get my point) . . . People seem compelled to respond to them with the most ridiculous and asinine comments?

I really don't care how stupid or silly their question, debate or issue might *seem* to us - we should still show others a bit of respect and at least take a serious effort at explaining the issue or answering their question.

You know - just maybe some people could grow up for a moment with their responses?
Perhaps if we all replied maturely and seriously to their comments and questions they might come away from their occasional shoulder-brush with Americans with a more favorable opinion.

Anyone agree or see what I see?

S'cause we don't cotton to no got dang aribs ner commonists!


Seriously, I was in Home Depot a while back, in the PVC section, and there was this guy looking for some parts. A fellow who looked Hispanic was also browsing in the same area. The Hispanic guy got too close to the other guy, and the other guy growled 'Hey, could you let me finish here first?' Then he said something about learning some English. Then he grumbled 'Damn, its my country!'

All that because the Spanish guy accidently crowded the obvious redneck a little. There was no harm done. It was such an over the top reaction to nothing at all.

That's how some of us treat people we think are foreigners. Works like that on the DP site sometimes too, I guess.
 

MaggieD

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People are more worried about being played for fools, than about coming off as assholes.
They think some of these "foreigners" are trolls, asking stupid questions so that they can laugh at us when we try to answer them earnestly.

As for myself personally, I can promise that I wouldn't think less of anyone who attempted to respond to a foreigner's question or comment politely and earnestly, even if that foreigner later turned out to be a troll, and made fun of the respondent.
There is no shame in trying to be helpful and cordial to strangers, even if your helpfulness and cordiality is met by mockery and ridicule. At least you tried.
I haven't noticed it on DP, but have on other forums. Some posters prefer to go for the cheap laugh, imo. And they aren't funny. I agree with you.
 

MKULTRABOY

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So they're mean because the foreigners consistently trick them?
:muffled laughter:
 

spud_meister

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My favourite is "your not American, you can't hold an opinion on domestic matters"
 

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My favourite is "your not American, you can't hold an opinion on domestic matters"
Well hell, if you foreigners can't even spell the American language right, why should I listen to your opinion?

:ind:
 

Aunt Spiker

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Well hell, if you foreigners can't even spell the American language right, why should I listen to your opinion?

:ind:
Right!
Because, as Americans, we're top-notch spellers. :roll:

Almost two-thirds of us say that spelling among adults is on the decline; a quarter acknowledged that they were simply bad spellers. About a third said they got nervous filling out official forms or formal documents without a computer-based spell checker or at least a dictionary.
Many Americans vexed by spelling - Washington Times
 

spud_meister

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Well hell, if you foreigners can't even spell the American language right, why should I listen to your opinion?

:ind:
I apologise on behalf of the rest of the English speaking world for making the language too difficult for Americans. :2razz:
 

Andalublue

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There are so many aspects of American culture that I admire and appreciate but rarely get the opportunity to express on a site like DP, because agreement and appreciation doesn't seem to be a very high priority in the general list of aims of a debate forum. Equally there are aspects of American culture I find much less attractive. The list of those is shorter, but somehow they seem to arise in debate more often.

As a foreigner on a US-majority site, I'm always aware that expressing anything negative is going to annoy and lead to shut the hell up or to tit-for-tat attacks on the culture of my society. It's as if some, or even many, Americans are unable or trained out of being able to discern the difference between respectful criticism and open attack. Sometimes you get to the point where you want to start every post by saying, "I love America, Americans and American culture but..." and that's just stupid.

Here are a few aspects of American culture I admire and then a few I dislike. I guarantee, should this thread continue, that there will be more comment about the second set than the first.

I admire:
  • the assumption that anyone can realise their dreams and become a success in life (however defined) through hard work and their own merit. It energises and motivates everyone to give of their best and to be ambitious in the best way.
  • The lack of cynicism towards society as a whole. When an American put his/her hand on their heart and pledges alleigance, you can be certain it is a genuine expression of alleigance. You can't say that about every nation.
  • That this genuine pride in their nation makes Americans generous hosts and welcoming of any visitor to the US with genuine, heart-felt hospitality. Provided you're just visiting.
  • That commitment to the principle (if not the practice) of free speech and freedom of religion is almost universal.

The things I like less:
  • The entire concept of American exceptionalism. The US is not the first imperium to foster such a concept, but it was stupid and aggressive when the Romans/Ottomans/British did it, and it's still a stupid concept.
  • The belief that the US system is so evolved and successful that its principles can be exported and applied anywhere, irrespective of other cultural traditions.
  • An inability to laugh at themselves and their society in the company of non-Americans. It seems as if to do so shows weakness and a lack of all-important national pride. This isn't unique to the US, but it isn't a universal trait either.
 

reefedjib

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This was a great post. Thank you. I do have to make a few comments about your lists.


I admire:
  • the assumption that anyone can realise their dreams and become a success in life (however defined) through hard work and their own merit. It energises and motivates everyone to give of their best and to be ambitious in the best way.
  • The lack of cynicism towards society as a whole. When an American put his/her hand on their heart and pledges alleigance, you can be certain it is a genuine expression of alleigance. You can't say that about every nation.
  • That this genuine pride in their nation makes Americans generous hosts and welcoming of any visitor to the US with genuine, heart-felt hospitality. Provided you're just visiting.
  • That commitment to the principle (if not the practice) of free speech and freedom of religion is almost universal.
I also like this aspect of America that provides equal opportunity. The freedom of speech helps make that a reality.

The things I like less:
  • The entire concept of American exceptionalism. The US is not the first imperium to foster such a concept, but it was stupid and aggressive when the Romans/Ottomans/British did it, and it's still a stupid concept.
  • The belief that the US system is so evolved and successful that its principles can be exported and applied anywhere, irrespective of other cultural traditions.
  • An inability to laugh at themselves and their society in the company of non-Americans. It seems as if to do so shows weakness and a lack of all-important national pride. This isn't unique to the US, but it isn't a universal trait either.
Ok, I take exception to the first two items on your negative list.

I don't recall the equivalent to American exceptionalism in the Romans/Ottomans/British. American exceptionalism is the description given to the equal opportunity that exists in this country. That anyone can start from nothing and make their way in the world through hard work. Immigrants to this country prove this time and again. The Asian immigrants are especially representative of this these days. Why can;t the blacks bring themselves out of poverty? Great question - they have lost their work ethic as the government pays for them. A horrible situation.

I think its principles can be exported, although I agree that it does not work everywhere. Often there are barriers: educational/literacy (e.g. Afghanistan), political - there exists an elite who will not allow Republicanism (e.g. Russia), ethnic (e.g Iraq). Places with ethnic homogeneity and good literacy can be seen as easily moving toward Republicanism as their elites transition into democracy advocates while preserving their influence.

Other than those items, I agree with you completely. Cheers!
 

Andalublue

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I also like this aspect of America that provides equal opportunity. The freedom of speech helps make that a reality.
Just this week I read of a poster (Soccerboy, I think) who was having to pay $40,000 a year for his university education. This suggests to me that opportunities to get the best education is based more on ability to pay than merit. Sorry, that's my digression.
Ok, I take exception to the first two items on your negative list.

I don't recall the equivalent to American exceptionalism in the Romans/Ottomans/British. American exceptionalism is the description given to the equal opportunity that exists in this country. That anyone can start from nothing and make their way in the world through hard work. Immigrants to this country prove this time and again. The Asian immigrants are especially representative of this these days. Why can;t the blacks bring themselves out of poverty? Great question - they have lost their work ethic as the government pays for them. A horrible situation.
That appears to me as just one aspect of the idea. Here's a fuller description and you'll see the aspects that might make non-Americans (and many Americans) sceptical of the entire concept.
American exceptionalism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

I think its principles can be exported, although I agree that it does not work everywhere. Often there are barriers: educational/literacy (e.g. Afghanistan), political - there exists an elite who will not allow Republicanism (e.g. Russia), ethnic (e.g Iraq). Places with ethnic homogeneity and good literacy can be seen as easily moving toward Republicanism as their elites transition into democracy advocates while preserving their influence.
I think you have to buy into a degree of exceptionalist thinking to believe that the principle of a republican, representative, liberal democracy in its American incarnation is an ideal or a prototype that could be appropriate elsewhere and is the evolved, best model for social organisation yet to develop.

So far, my guarantee is holding good.
 

reefedjib

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Just this week I read of a poster (Soccerboy, I think) who was having to pay $40,000 a year for his university education. This suggests to me that opportunities to get the best education is based more on ability to pay than merit. Sorry, that's my digression.
Opportunities for the best education are based on both merit and the ability to pay. There are many financial aid programs to help those with exceptional merit and those with an inability to pay: scholarships for the merited, grants and loans for the financially troubled. There is equal opportunity. Have a lack of funds does not amke it unequal.

That appears to me as just one aspect of the idea. Here's a fuller description and you'll see the aspects that might make non-Americans (and many Americans) sceptical of the entire concept.
American exceptionalism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Not really. Formed by immigrants, a republican government, protecting rights, equal opportunity. It is all there and all American. There is no other country which has it.



I think you have to buy into a degree of exceptionalist thinking to believe that the principle of a republican, representative, liberal democracy in its American incarnation is an ideal or a prototype that could be appropriate elsewhere and is the evolved, best model for social organisation yet to develop.
Perhaps you do need to buy into that. I do.

So far, my guarantee is holding good.
I am sorry, what do you mean? That you pros and cons were accurate? I think not. Perhaps it is that you only observe from afar and that you sources of information are typically biased.
 

spud_meister

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Perhaps it is that you only observe from afar and that you sources of information are typically biased.
Perhaps it's because you're too close and your sense of superiority is clouding your judgement.
 

Andalublue

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I am sorry, what do you mean? That you pros and cons were accurate? I think not. Perhaps it is that you only observe from afar and that you sources of information are typically biased.
Sorry, I was referring to this statement from my first post:

"I guarantee, should this thread continue, that there will be more comment about the second set than the first." :2razz:

I'm not really intending to debate each of my comments. They really don't have to be accurate, because they are my personal impressions, and I'm often deluded. However, they are an accurate expression of my impressions.
 
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reefedjib

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Perhaps it's because you're too close and your sense of superiority is clouding your judgement.
Mmmm. No, I don't think so. There is plenty to criticize the US about, just not those items.

Sorry, I was referring to this statement from my first post:

"I guarantee, should this thread continue, that there will be more comment about the second set than the first." :2razz:
Of course - not much point in discussing what we agree on.

I'm not really intending to debate each of my comments. They really don't have to be accurate, because they are my personal impressions, and I'm often deluded. However, they are an accurate expression of my impressions.
The second point is not my intention to debate too thoroughly. You are partially correct that not all failed states would be receptive to building a republican form of government. My comments reflected this. There are, of course, some states that will be receptive. Iraq may still be one of them if the Sunnis and Shia can reach an agreement between themselves. It is not a good reason to stop trying, although it is a consideration about whether to attempt it next time.

The first point is wrong. We have exceptionalism, bt the Romans/Ottomans and Brits did not. We had exceptionalism before we became a super power and we will have it after we have ended being so. The only danger to exceptionalism is the heavy influx of Mexicans who will not transform into red-blooded Americans due the the proximity of their home country and the cultural influence it will have here in the States.
 

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I apologise on behalf of the rest of the English speaking world for making the language too difficult for Americans. :2razz:
Master "aluminum" first, then we'll talk... ;)

Seriously...I don't discount others because they are foreigners. I count myself lucky to have spent 3 years in England, 4 in the Middle East, several years divided in Turkey, Spain, Germany, and Portugal. Ive spent a fair amount of time off the tourist track in Mexico.

And really...when it comes to just posting for the sake of bashing...what is this thread doing exactly? And what kind of response is it eliciting?

The reality is that as Americans MOST people see our system of government and constitutionally protected freedoms as being superior to anywhere else in the world. However that belief isn't necessarily compatible with others world beliefs and when people come to these sites, EVERYONE brings their won personal biases. And that will almost certainly guarantee worlds will collide.

And yes...some people just post from their own jingoistic perspective, but lets not pretend that some of the non-American posters don't wade in here doing the same thing.
 

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People are more worried about being played for fools, than about coming off as assholes.
They think some of these "foreigners" are trolls, asking stupid questions so that they can laugh at us when we try to answer them earnestly.

As for myself personally, I can promise that I wouldn't think less of anyone who attempted to respond to a foreigner's question or comment politely and earnestly, even if that foreigner later turned out to be a troll, and made fun of the respondent.
There is no shame in trying to be helpful and cordial to strangers, even if your helpfulness and cordiality is met by mockery and ridicule. At least you tried.
i just think assholes will be assholes. you won't find people who are cordial and polite to american posters being assholes to foreign posters.
 

Andalublue

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Of course - not much point in discussing what we agree on.
Perhaps not, but I was responding to and agreeing with the sentiments of Aunt Spiker in the OP.

The first point is wrong. We have exceptionalism, bt the Romans/Ottomans and Brits did not. We had exceptionalism before we became a super power and we will have it after we have ended being so. The only danger to exceptionalism is the heavy influx of Mexicans who will not transform into red-blooded Americans due the the proximity of their home country and the cultural influence it will have here in the States.
Well, of course I maybe labouring under an entirely erroneous idea of what American Exceptionalism really means. I don't think so, but of course I could be. I would suggest, however that the thrust of the definition provided by the wiki-link I posted would be the impression that most non-Americans would have when you mention the term. If there are other non-Americans reading, what does American Exceptionalism mean to you?

The British Empire did have a similar concept although it was never reified into a Concept. I found this great article by Trevor B. McCrisken on answers.com
exceptionalism: Definition from Answers.com
It contains this statement:

Americans are not unique in their belief that theirs is an exceptional nation. Many, if not all, countries have shared such national vanity at some time or another in their histories. The French mission civilisatrice, the British Empire, and the Third Reich, for example, were all accompanied by their own versions of exceptionalism. Americans are clearly not alone in holding exceptionalist beliefs. Neither are they unique in pursuing foreign policies that are informed by those cultural beliefs. In all countries policymaking is based to a certain extent on assumptions formed from unique elements of national culture.
 

Andalublue

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Master "aluminum" first, then we'll talk... ;)
You're talking complete bauxite!! :mrgreen:

Seriously...I don't discount others because they are foreigners.
I think that some people do, and that was the thrust of the OP.

And really...when it comes to just posting for the sake of bashing...what is this thread doing exactly? And what kind of response is it eliciting?
I'm guessing the kind of debate we're having, one that has elicited no bashing of anyone so far.

The reality is that as Americans MOST people see our system of government and constitutionally protected freedoms as being superior to anywhere else in the world. However that belief isn't necessarily compatible with others world beliefs and when people come to these sites, EVERYONE brings their won personal biases. And that will almost certainly guarantee worlds will collide.
The point of my first post was to show that as a non-American I harbour feelings of both admiration and scepticism for the US but, due to the nature of internet forums, it is only when one voices criticism that anyone takes notice, and then the level of jingoism or violent, knee-jerk reaction seems disproportionate. I think that's what the OP was thinking of when she started the thread.

My guarantee that my negative impressions of US culture would elicit far, far more attention than my longer list of positive impressions is still holding good.

And yes...some people just post from their own jingoistic perspective, but lets not pretend that some of the non-American posters don't wade in here doing the same thing.
I wouldn't doubt that for one second.
 

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Right!
Because, as Americans, we're top-notch spellers. :roll:



Many Americans vexed by spelling - Washington Times
Maybe it's the elitist in me, but misspellings drive me nuts. I lose all respect for someone who proves over and over that he can't spell. I had a boss who, in addition to her myriad of other shortcomings, could not spell to save her life. I just could not take her seriously when I would get an email that looked like a fifth grader wrote it.
 

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Maybe it's the elitist in me, but misspellings drive me nuts. I lose all respect for someone who proves over and over that he can't spell. I had a boss who, in addition to her myriad of other shortcomings, could not spell to save her life. I just could not take her seriously when I would get an email that looked like a fifth grader wrote it.
some people hate improper capitalization. ;-)
 

Aunt Spiker

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Maybe it's the elitist in me, but misspellings drive me nuts. I lose all respect for someone who proves over and over that he can't spell. I had a boss who, in addition to her myriad of other shortcomings, could not spell to save her life. I just could not take her seriously when I would get an email that looked like a fifth grader wrote it.
So?

If someone's bi-lingual and their first language isn't even English I'm not going to be so snide as to hold that against them. Odds are if I tried to fully grasp their language I'd completely fail at it - poor grammar and bad spelling would be so common place.

If you personally have a problem with poor English then that's fine - but is that a real, solid reason to be rude or snide to someone if they're here with a question or out of curiosity?
I don't think so.

If you don't like it when people don't grasp the language then just don't engage them when they post.
 
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