06 August 2012

Things You Should Know About "10 Things Most Americans Don't Know About America"

Mark Manson, who strikes me as a bit of a cut-rate Tim Ferriss (who is another story for another time), writes one of those blogs that seems designed to inspire you to share his material on social media. Not to say it is completely without merit, but there are only so many self-important, semi-funny, self-promoting blogs I can take -- besides my own, of course.

Several weeks ago Mr. Manson shared a post on "10 Things Most Americans Don't Know About America" He puts for some interesting (if semi-funny and self-important) ideas therein, but I take a different view on the first three assertions:
(1) Few people are impressed by Americans
(2) Few people hate us or care too much about America
(3) We think everyone looks up to America
Overall, Mr. Manson discounts the strength of the "soft power" of American culture and the American dream, and downplays the extent to which American politics affects the rest of the world.

People around the world may not be impressed with Americans themselves, but many are awfully enamored of American popular music, movies, and television. Similarly, people may not "look up to" the United States, but many of them (especially in poorer countries) desire the economic opportunities that they perceive exist in the United States. 

Overall, I think the world is watching America more than ever, thanks to globalized news. In my own travels, I have found that educated foreigners are often highly plugged into U.S. politics. Sure, the rural poor are not necessarily following the Republican primaries, but educated urbanites around the globe probably know more about Mitt Romney than I do. They are watching because what happens in U.S. politics -- especially who wins the Presidential elections -- affects the rest of the world so much.

But you probably knew all of that already.


Richard K said...


Lisa Huang said...

We had a great discussion about this on my wall - so glad to see it has inspired a Blog post! You have an interesting point about the "soft powers" , or some call the cultural colonialism of American pop culture. You are more likely to hear the latest American pop tunes in SA townships (Rehana? Snoop Dog?) than local musicians (Freshly ground/Zohara) ... but the fact that American pop culture is so much more accessible, almost a global commodity in some way....

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