Ten Reasons You Don’t Like Us — Part I

According to AOL’s Geobeats Section, there are ten American habits that non-Americans find offensive. I am going to list them verbatim below. The words in italics are AOL’s original text. Those in normal (non-italic) type and blue are my reactions to them.

Every country has habits and social norms that may not translate well to other cultures. Here are 10 American behaviors found offensive by those outside of the US.

Are there only ten? This AOL writer is being kind.

Ten Reasons You Don’t Like Us1Number 10. Calling the United States ‘America.’

The Americas are a very big place, as they are comprised of 2 large continents. People outside of the US, and particularly in South America, often take offense to one nation claiming, albeit inadvertently, rights to the whole, enormous land mass.

I agree. Calling ourselves “Americans” is a little misleading, if not being eccentric and narcissistic. So let’s start identifying ourselves as “United Statesmen” or “USAmen.”

Number 9. Being in public when wearing sweatpants and flip-flops.

Though the comfy garments are a big part of many wardrobes here in the United States, there are places, like most of Europe and all of Japan, where that particular level of casual is deemed disrespectful.

Again I agree. Sweatpants belong in the bedroom, or in the gym when you work out a sweat. The place for thongs (another name for flip-flops) is in the shower. Other types of thongs, such as underpants for women, belong under the sweatpants.

Number 8. Accepting gifts too willingly.

In China, it’s that one should humbly decline 3 times before grabbing the goods. Many other places aren’t necessarily that specific about the etiquette, but do generally encourage at least some resistance be expressed.

I grew up in Hongkong, an English colony but a Chinese community. Though I learned that you were supposed to say something like “you shouldn’t have 你太客气,” when someone presented you with a gift, I never heard about this custom of refusing it three times. Maybe it’s just me being too eager, rude and brute.

Number 7. Opening gifts in front of the giver.

Americans plan entire events around opening newly received presents, but in both China and India it’s customary to wait until later. When you’re alone is preferred, but, at minimum, one should contain themselves until the person who did the giving has left.

Good advice, especially if you think the gift may be too small. You don’t want to show your disappointment in front of the other person.

Number 6. Giving someone or something a thumbs up.

In numerous regions, including West Africa, the Middle East, and parts of Europe, the gesture is the equivalent of flipping the bird. In other places, it’s simply considered crude and adolescent.

I didn’t know that, but I do know the phrase “flipping the bird” means “fxck you.” It’s a definite no-no in almost all cultures if you want to avoid being punched in the nose, or worse, being kicked in the bird. So for your own safety, no thumbs-up except in the US.

Interestingly, in Chinese communities, to point at something, you use your longest finger – the middle one. Which is sign language for “fxck you” in the USA. My teachers in primary and secondary schools did that all the time. Yikes!

So readers, wherever you are, whatever nationality you belong to, keep your fingers in a fist.

Reasons 5 to 1, in descending order will be continued next. Stay tuned.

*** To Be Continued ***

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