The gall of some people just chaps my hide. (Oh God, I really am turning into my mother.) Below is a conversation between a 40-year-old professional and a 28-year-old bum about identity, the social relevance of self-esteem, and the limits of the usefulness of self-deprecation, although only one of us is aware of it.
dessa_dangerous, on 29.Aug.2009, 2:26pm, said:
I really don't know what to make of this. You sat in a room full of people who negatively generalized your people--if you're an American, Americans are your people, whether you like it or not--as being shallow and if I may paraphrase, fake, and your reaction was to nod and think passively, "yes, you're right."
The problem with situations like these is that people like you--not that I know you from Adam, but people who say out loud the sort of thing you've just written down--is that they think they are somehow different, somehow exempt. That when the gross generalizations are made that they're about someone else.
No one is done justice when we, rather than disproving stereotypes through action, sit around wringing our hands and feeling superior.
Furthermore, the assessment is inaccurate. America, like any other country, is full of all sorts of kinds of people--good, bad, smart, dumb, shallow, prophetic, etcetera etcetera etcetera. America, unlike some countries, has been the birthplace of some of the greatest works of art, literature, science and medicine introduced in the last 150 years. Of music and ideas and movements. Americans are shallow, my ass. Maybe the people you know are shallow and lead pointless, useless lives. That doesn't mean everyone is or does.
As for whether Americans are overly polite--I'll take overly polite over overly hostile any old day.