February 19, 2010

Media propaganda and stereotypes of people in certain countries are almost always untrue

Media propaganda and stereotypes of people in certain countries are almost always untrue. Not only they are untrue, the people in those countries often turn out to be the exact opposites of what you were taught they were. For better or for worse. Nationalities that were supposed to be unfriendly turn out to be very friendly and the ones that we were taught were friendly, turn out to be very hostile, indeed. That goes for other supposedly national characteristics as well.
Not only that, but once you start traveling, you will see that many things that you thought were true about your own country turn out to be untrue. They always taught you that your country was the best, the freests with the friendliest, most generous people. Maybe even the best girls. As you discover freeer countries with better people and more beautiful girls, a shock sets in.

Most views of other countries through the media are either completely false or are wild exaggerations. If you think that in Africa people live in trees with snakes around their necks and eat grass, you will probably not go there and will not take advantage of getting to know great, prosperous people, see their modern cities full of cars and skyscrapers, will not make new friends and learn about a beautiful culture, music and diversity that exists there. If you think of the Philippines or Brazil as a dangerous and violent countries, you will not travel to them to meet their high quality women. If you think of the Middle East as a camel- riding, terrorist-infested society, you will not go there to work and make your tax- free fortune. Which is fine with me as I will have less competition.


What people call you and how they see you, and even your race and nationality/identity changes as you go from country to country. A person who was known as "Black" in the US all his life discovers that he is now "American" or even "white" as he moves to Africa. Very few Italians, Puerto Ricans, and Poles from the US are seen as such when they go back to 'their countries". They are just referred to as "Americans". People who were "Chinese" in Malaysia all their lives become "Malaysians" when they go to China. People who thought of themselves as short become tall as they go to a society where average height is lower. Men of average looks become handsome in the Philippines and handsome men from the US become average in Italy. Average girls from E. Europe and Asia become "gorgeous" in the US. Popular American women become unsightly nobodys and unneeded white elephants in Asia and E. Europe.

By knowing how the perception of you will change, you can find places where people like yourself fit in better or are afforded more admiration and higher status. You can even use many things that were disadvantageous socially in your country to your advantage in another. A Spanish-speaking person in the US, for one, will not get as much admiration there as he would in Quebec, Canada, where Spanish language is seen as extremely romantic and a sign of status. A man who is 5'7" in the US and who is pumping iron to make up for his short stature in America, will not be called a "shorty" in Japan or Vietnam and will not feel insecure as he often would back in the US. Actually, it will be to his advantage not to stick out like a sore thumb. He will have all the dates he wants once he goes to the right country. If Collin Powell wanted it, he could move to Sudan and become a white man there. He is one to the Sudanese according to the African culture. One drop of Black blood in the US makes you black but 25% white blood in most African Americans make them "white" in Africa.


What is good or bad varies from culture to culture. What is normal, accepted and legal behavior in one country will land you in jail in another or even get you killed. While the "Fahrenheit 9/11" movie is legal in the US, such a movie made about a president of some other country will not be released and its author ( and all his crew) will be imprisoned or killed. A Dutchman who is used to being able to buy marijuana at any time, will feel that the US is very repressive when it comes to such things. A Kenyan may not criticise his president openly but he can have twelve wives and build a village for his one husband- twelve wife family. In the US, he will be jailed for polygamy-a separate sentence for each wife above one.

As an international traveler, one should be aware of such legal and cultural freedoms and restrictions and be very careful and discreet. Coming back home and bragging about things that you did abroad where they were legal or trying to do things that were legal at home but not legal abroad may prove to be your undoing. Extreme discretion is therefore highly advised. Most people (and judges) are not travelers and will not understand your international view on such things.


Contrary to the Hollywood image of how things are, most of the world does not treat Americans as heroes. Most people in the "non-white" world cannot even tell an American from a German or a Russian. You may think of yourself as such ( an American) but they have their own name for you ( such as White Ghost) and will dump you together with the above groups just like you would often dump all people that you perceive to be of one race into one group. It is called "distance decay". A Korean would not put himself into the same category with Mongolians, Japanese and Aleuts, but he would put all white Americans, Canadians, Brits, Iranians and Czechs into one blurred " nationality". A Black African would go even further: he can distinguish different people and tribes in Africa with amazing clarity and sees it as a very diverse place, but a Japanese and a British tourist look exactly the same to him and he cannot tell them apart- they are not Black, the skin is light- they are, therefore, of one nationality. Westerners, of course, cannot tell different Africans apart at all but can probably tell each other apart quite easily.


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