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USA Rant :)
November 21, 2011
01:56
this_just_in
Toronto

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Hi Benny I just read your post on your views of the USA and it SICKENED ME to the point were unfortunately I will not be coming back to this website. But please Read on....
I am Canadian and have spent alot of time in America what I find funny is that you think it is OK to put downs someones culture to the point were tha culture has to defend itself. As a Canadian my culture is closely tied to the united states we Simle to people as a greeting we say awesome all of the time and we tip (ps there's more). I as a flight Attendent meet people from all around the world one of the things they complement Canadians on is how we smile and are nice, Isn't that awesome that something you compain about Americans doing is something that people complement Canadians on. On television we have commercials throughout shows we are raised with that the same wY you were raises driving on the wrong side of the road it is normal to us and may seem weird to you but that is something that you hav to get used to. Tipping is something that shows our appreciation with the meal/Service you were provided. Waiters and Waitresses Count on tips to help them gothrough college, lay rent or feed there family. If the service was bad don't tip. If you can't afford it don't tip. If your an asshole don't tip. It's up to you!
Growing up you gets smiles from strangers so you learnt to smile at strangers when you walk into a store you smile at someone it gets there attention right away and from there you can ask a question. On the subway or streetcar you smile at some one all your doing is being nice and to exchange smiles sends a positive message to strangers around you. If you are against smiling why do you give free hugs??
Anyways that's enough from me you can ban me or suspend my account I don't care. This is my last post.
Anyways if you or someone else replies I will reply but otherwise I am done Woth FI3M..

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November 21, 2011
02:00
this_just_in
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BTW if you want to form a opinion of what he really things you can read the comment section it makes him look like a borderline Bigot. Benny you do not know how many people have lost there positive opinion of you.

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November 21, 2011
02:55
Benny
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A lot of people disliked that post... and a lot of people loved it. I've written other controversial posts in the past, calling people cry babies, lazy, idiots etc.

Fair enough if you don't want to come back to the site, but that's the only post I will write about my frustration with Americans. I don't regret writing it - it was inspired by Americans complaining about the local culture more than anyone else abroad, and something I've been listening to for 10 years no matter where I am, so I wanted them to try to look at themselves retrospectively.

As well as this I was asked dozens of times on twitter and by email to share my cultural experience in America, as I have done in other countries. Many people specifically requested that I give my frank opinion of what I didn't like.

If my honesty offends you so much, then maybe you should stop reading my site. I don't plan on sugar coating my opinions any time soon, and reactions such as this show how unwelcome honesty can be in North America. America doesn't have to change, I just stated reasons why I personally don't want to live there.

Frankly your reaction is way too oversensitive, and ludicrous to say that I am "against smiling". I really can't take such criticism seriously as it shows lack of paying attention to precisely what I wrote.

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November 21, 2011
03:07
Alasdair
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I feel your reaction is overblown and I think you and others making such arguments should take Benny's criticism less seriously. I can identify with much of what Benny says and I agree that as a European or indeed as someone who has not been habitualised to the American psyche many of the things Benny mentions are questionable, objectionable or downright unlikable for me.

However, I'm slowly coming to the conclusion that Benny shouldn't have really written this article. I can appreciate he wanted to make a point about the little things that irritated him about American life but ultimately he put it in a way that was inflammatory, with language that whilst conveying accurately the problems he had encountered was nevertheless insensitive to the fact that he was, in essence, attacking a way of life. I also find his defense of being 'frank' sometimes a little thin. Indeed, I can believe and have seen previously that he has that admirable quality of speaking his mind. However, there is a line between being frank and being rude. Thousands of things irritate me every day. Tiny things. Sometimes someone says something silly, for example. There is a difference between pointing out such silliness or, as Benny has comparatively done, railing and ranting about it.

Understand that I enjoyed the article for its insights into things I had also found different or annoying in America, but ultimately Benny has never written such a negative, aggressive post before and it seems a bit out of the blue given his usual motivational, cheery optimism. And whilst, as I have said many times already, I found the article to be insightful, I ultimately can't think of a reason for him to have written it. It wasn't to anyone's betterment, it really hasn't changed the way anyone thinks about America, it has divided the community and ostracised many and for all that I can't think of anything it's really done other than fill a blog post. No-one is going to go into the world with this new information and flourish as they might with the "Lessons learnt" post or the various travel and language tips.

This whole episode has been rather pointless and it's just stirred up a lot of bad blood. For what? I'm really not bothered about the whole thing - I read the article, identified with what he said and found the swearing and irritability a bit jarring but otherwise it was a thing that I read and don't have much stake in. But it caused a ruckus and I think that lies doubly with the manner in which the article was written and the manner in which its detractors have overreacted. 

November 21, 2011
03:33
sipes23
Chicago, EEUU

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I don't know. I read it and snickered at the foibles of myself and my neighbors. And I 'fess up to being one of those who abuse "awesome." I've been using is too often for too many years to stop now. And that's awesome. His point about the false prices on everything must be jarring to non-Americans. I like it—but I'm used to it (and factor it in when I buy). He's got some interesting points—some of which I've seen other people mention in other places.

 

I read it as "here's the side of America you don't often see." America is likely a place that most non-Americans see often enough in various media for it to seem vaguely familiar. And the America of the movies and tv only sort of represents the real thing. The overwhelming majority of non-Americans I've talked with that have been to the States have never been outside of California, Florida or New York City. None of these places are very representative of my home while being important parts of it.

 

One last thing: the majority of Americans do not have passports—only 30% of us do. As a result, we're insular. We may not know how outsiders see us, because we've never been outside. We are grossly monolingual and monocultural (but not to the extent that the stereotype may lead you to believe). Personally, I think Benny gave us a pass on some things.

 

Benny put a disclaimer at the top of the post. Read the post again with a grain of salt. It's funny in some places. 

Native: American English            Advanced: lingua latina From Basic to Intermediate: فارسی Italiano  Español 
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November 21, 2011
03:34
Benny
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Many commenters suggest that they found it fascinating to see America from different eyes, and are thanking me for being so blunt and show them things that they hadn't realised are different

So yes, I do think it was worth writing.

But if you don't like it then fine - it's the only one I plan to ever write. Peruvians, Filipinos etc. that I meet abroad don't have a tendency to complain about other countries as much as travelling Americans I've met have, so it would not do them any good at all to see me write reasons why I may not want to live in their countries for life. I imagine all my future cultural summaries will be only positive.

Note that I'm getting a LOT of hatemail over this. If you think I was cursing in that article you should see my inbox!

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November 21, 2011
03:49
Benny
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Yes, I did indeed put a disclaimer at the start of the article. And a lot of people have understood the humour in it. If you read the article in defensive-mode you'll think it's anti-America propaganda.

If you read it with a neutral mindset you'll actually start to see the real point of the post. It's actually just me thinking aloud, and I think it's way less offensive than people are making it out to be. North Americans are just not used to this amount of honesty without cushioning.

If I cursed less and followed each point up with "But..." to make it neutral, I'd still be saying the same thing, but in a more gentle American style. Only I'm not American and that's the whole point; such sugar-coating drives me crazy.

As sipes said, read it with a grain of salt and don't take it so seriously. I'm just sharing my honest thoughts on cultural differences I found frustrating, not giving America 17 new commandments it must follow.

If you are waiting for me to apologise for writing it, I wouldn't hold your breath ;) Now, let's all get back to more important things, yeah?

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November 21, 2011
05:42
Alasdair
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Oh no, not at all. I wasn't expecting an apology or anything. As I say - I'm unaffected. It's just that I can appreciate the reasons why people have gotten upset beyond mere patriotism or knee-jerk reactionism. 

You have my sympathy with the whole hatemail problem. I can only imagine what some people are saying, you poor fellow :)

I've never come across Americans complaining about other countries, mind you. By which I don't mean you're wrong or you're overstating their presence - I mean I personally haven't met them, so perhaps my view on it is a letting 'them' off a little too lightly :P

But yeah, I'm going back to the language-learning. Can't tell you how jealous I am that you're back in Cusco. Oh, what I would give for another week! La Plaza de Armas! The Cathedral and the College (Visit the Cathedral - there's a painting of the Last Supper where they're dining on guinea pig!)! To climb to Saqsuayhuaman (Sexy Woman) Fortress once more! Oh, the nostalgia, it burns!

November 21, 2011
06:04
this_just_in
Toronto

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You know I can not believe I got so worked up about this. I decided to read it again and i now can see where ou are comic from I certaintly do not agree with ou on everything but now trying to look at America from An outsiders prospective I can see what you mean. Of course if you aren't used to things being a certain way it would be weird otherwise. @Benny I would actually like to thank you for broadening my horizon at first I felt almos as if you wrote this about me and my family but now I realize that you aren't Saying ou hate Americans but merely things about Americans ou do not agree with.
Anyways I will keep reading your blog and using your forums because that would actually be a punishement to me and not you lol.
I am so sorry that I got so worked up please forgive me. (It must be the Jetlag and what not).

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November 21, 2011
06:45
Kevinpost
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I'd like to thank Benny for writing the post. It brought up a lot of stress that I have dealt with growing up in the states as well as traveling abroad. Yes, as a North American I had mixed feelings while reading it but for the most part I agreed with almost everything that Benny had to say. I wholeheartedly agree that the majority of North Americans live in a twisted sick fantasy world that is consuming them and yet they are willing to sacrifice their lives for the very things that are destroying them. 

 

However, Benny you don't and never will understand how annoying it is to be treated as an American abroad especially from Europeans. I have traveled more extensively than most Europeans I've met (I've met hundreds & hundreds of them), I am in much better shape than most of them, I am far more active than the majority of them, and I don't get drunk & sleep all day in a hostel like a whopping majority but because I'm American I am automatically more 'inferior' than them. You have to admit that European elitism is rampant and I think that is just as ignorant. So many Europeans feel that they can go to a major city in the U.S. (let's face it, very few Europeans travel off the beaten path in the U.S.) and watch the news and all of the sudden they are experts on U.S. culture. I have met numerous European couchsufers who've settle in places like Arkansas, North Carolina, Alaska, etc because of the natural beauty, the variety of outdoor activities and the simplicity and friendliness of the people; my point is they stayed away from the discussing consumerism and stress of the large cities.

 

If Europeans want to be an example to North Americans then they should do it in an exemplary manner. They should visit the smaller towns in the U.S. and educate people they encounter that the world isn't a scary place, give examples how European infrastructure has greatly improved their lives, tell them about their own values/culture and how travel can positively change their lives. I don't think that going on a rant achieves nearly as much as my example above. Nevertheless, I can't get enough of the friendliness and smiles from my Canadian and America brothers :)

 

Sure, you're Irish and ignorant people from time to time make assumptions about drinking but it is hilarious and sometimes disturbing the stereotypes that I hear while abroad about Americans from "educated" Europeans.

 

On another note, congrats for having pelotas man and keep it honest! It takes a lot to write an article that has the potential to offend the majority of your clients/readers. I also hate sugarcoating.

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November 21, 2011
12:59
Chrystal G.
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Benny, I did read your post and found that it was true, and I'm an American! While most statements may not be true of me, I find these stereotypes very typical of especially the older generation. My mother was completely ticked at a French guy that didn't smile at me when I was asking for directions, was scared over some Mu[Beware! This is SPAM posted by a third party] fellows on the train in Germany and complained about people not moving out of her way (when she was the one stopping in the middle of a path for no apparent reason).

What I found to be odd about Europeans is that nearly every public toilet is a PAY toilet! It leaves me wondering what one would do when they had an emergency and were away from home or without correct change...do they piss themselves in the train station? That kind of baffles me! Otherwise, I'm enjoying the experience of the different cultures here, and do wish we had better public transportation in the US. One thing I did notice that Europeans' opinions of Las Vegas residents was an odd one, but honestly not very different from American's opinions. For instance, yes I live in the city of Las Vegas, no I do not live in a casino, no I do not gamble to make my wages, etc. I've found it very funny! No one believes that anyone LIVES here. :D

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November 21, 2011
15:06
Benny
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Glad people are starting to see sense in what I wrote. wink

I've heard this "all toilets are paid in Europe" before and find it ludicrous.

In France (definitely in Paris) there is actually a law that every café and restaurant MUST let you use the bathroom, whether you are a paying customer or not, and those are not paid bathrooms.

You will find paid bathrooms around tourist areas, perhaps way more than in touristy areas in America, but most of my travels in the last decade have been in Europe and I honestly don't remember EVER paying to use a toilet. I do remember there being a paid toilet in the St. Stephen's Green shopping centre in Dublin, but I'd just go into a nearby pub instead when I was in the area. You pay for the convenience of not leaving the shopping center and walking a few metres from the entrance...

At a train station, I'd use the toilet on the train itself. But I can see how it would be annoying that some are paid. I took the train regularly in France and Italy and specifically remember those train stations being free, albeit hardly the most alluring toilets in the world.

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November 21, 2011
20:39
Randybvain
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@Chrystal: In Poland you have to pay for using a WC, but it's nothing because you probably soiled yourself before you'd found anysmile That's why we grow so many trees and busheswink Anyway, I have seen some strangely looking toilet pillars when in France, but I didn't find out how to open them. In UK toilets on stations are free, but I have seen some payable on a parking. When I am travelling, I am always checking avaialbility of the loos on the locations.

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November 22, 2011
01:41
kaibri
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Kevinpost said:

However, Benny you don't and never will understand how annoying it is to be treated as an American abroad especially from Europeans... You have to admit that European elitism is rampant and I think that is just as ignorant.

 

Amen.  I think that gets to the heart of what I disliked about the post, although I agreed with a great deal of it. Living and traveling in Europe I got so tired of the condescending attitude I got constantly, so my foremost reaction to your post was basically "oh look, another European railing against the U.S.  Surprise, surprise."  Although all the places I have lived or traveled (mostly in Asia) have their stereotypes about Americans, I only experienced that patronizing, elitist, attitude in Europe and from Europeans in the U.S. Like I said though, I did agree with a lot of your post and you brought up some good points that I hadn't thought about. 

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November 22, 2011
04:37
jdmoncada
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I had to read the post just to find out what the fuss was about.

 

I think, perhaps, you don't get us.  In fact, I really believe this despite the fact that you've mentioned you've spent substantial time in country.  And that's okay.  But there is a culture gap.  I was thinking about the directness issue.  I have always felt we were fairly direct, and in my personal dealings I try to be as honest as I can be.  But I know that as I am learning Japanese, there are aspects of that language and culture that are frustratingly indirect.  I didn't realize we were on that spectrum.

 

I can read the points and respect that they are how Benny feels, but I also know one thing.  An individual goes into a new culture not to see if s/he can change it but to see how it can change him/her.  Your frustration with things won't change how they are because some things just are.

 

It does take maturity, though, to look at something and know that "For me, this doesn't work."  So I respect that you know what you like and what you don't and are on a journey to find different experiences.  There's a whole world to explore.

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November 22, 2011
05:02
Kevinpost
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Benny, are we going to read an article about your time in New Orleans or Chicago in the near future?

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November 22, 2011
05:49
this_just_in
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See the reason I was upset was because of your attack on a persons culture. Its almost the same as stereotyping races, Religions or political parties. It is wrong maybe it is because I am very liberal and think it is wrong to judge Any group of people based on you own perceptions.

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November 22, 2011
16:25
Benny
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@Kevinpost no. I'm moving on from writing about the states. I'll upload my photos whenever I can though to share the experience more.

@TJI No it isn't. I gave reasons why I wouldn't want to live in a country based on actual experience from thousands of real interactions. Stereotyping is different. Disagree if you will but this has genuinely been my experience.

Judging people is bad, but I have a right to not want to live somewhere, and be open about that. Once again the problem I see here is the fact that I was honest, which people filled with political correctness, and equate it to racism etc. are not used to. So let's agree to disagree, because as I said I'm not apologising for not biting my tongue.

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November 23, 2011
06:49
NKellyEmerald
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I'm not sure I understand all the fuss that has arisen on this issue. This is still a blog, is it not? This isn't a major publication, a paid-product or even an attack on another culture. It's merely an opinion and, as with all opinions, you take it or leave it. If freedom of speech is to exist at all, that is the mindset we have to take anyway... no?

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Is cainteoir dúchais Gaeilge mé. Same with English. Zacząłem uczyć się polskiego, y ahora, he dejado aprender el castellano.
November 23, 2011
07:50
Chrystal G.
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Randybvain: LOL. All that soiling of oneself would make for lovely trees. ;)
Benny: Since I've been traveling mainly by train, and find it terribly difficult, as a female, to use the free train restrooms while the train is moving, especially when someone else has recently released themselves all over the seat. This was my experience. Anytime that I needed to use the restroom and there was a sign for one, it ended up being a pay toilet. :D I really haven't been around much to the pubs, which actually is unfortunate, but I do know that there ARE free toilets; I just can never find them in my "hour of desperation!" Haha.

I do know that the Apothekes have toilets as they cater to sick members of society, so I've been hunting them out. Lol. Now that I know restrooms inside of cafés or pubs are a good bet, you've expanded my options! Thanks! It's amazing how the little things make me happy. :D Really, though, my experience in Europe so far has been a good one. It really is beautiful here, and nearly everyone has been very nice (the only ones that haven't been pleasant were do to their frustration with me asking questions while they were in a hurry; completely my fault.) I wish that I had more time to visit more places. :)

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