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…in which a Texan loses his culture

There are a few things America does bigger and arguably better than the rest of the world. America has wider, straighter roads with more turn-arounds and access roads. America has gigantic superstores where you can buy eggs, milk, 52-packs of Coca~Cola, couches, cat trees, guns, Ipods, televisions, fishing poles and wedding cakes all in the same place while your car gets its oil and brakes changed. America has 24 hour convenience stores on every corner, and you can order just about anything over the Internet and have it delivered within 24 hours and rarely ever have to pay for shipping. A lot of Americans don’t realize that most of the rest of the world doesn’t have these luxuries…at least, not on the scale that America does.

When I first left America I missed those luxuries like they were necessities. I thought the rest of the world was primitive for not “doing it right.” That point is a debatable gray area, but that’s neither here nore there. The point is that after being away from America for a while I’ve found that I almost never miss the over-the-top luxuries of America. However, something happened this week that made me a little nostalgic for “home.” I was introduced to the HBO series “Eastbound and Down.”

In the same way “Generation Kill” perfectly captures the tone of modern U.S. military culture, “Eastbound and Down” perfectly captures the tone of modern Texas culture. Watching that show was like slipping on an old, worn-in pair of sock, and for 40 minutes it felt like I was back “home” again.

But after watching a few episodes it occurred to me that a lot of Americans don’t realize the rest of the world doesn’t have willfully ignorant, xenophobic, bombastic, redneck trailer trash…at least, not on the scale that America does. It also occurred to me that it has become a constant source of subconscious joy to me to know how far away I live from that cess pool of wasted human potential.


2 Responses

  1. How do your family and friends that are still back there react to your opinions and thoughts on such matters? Do they agree with you and feel stuck living in such a place, or do they not see it the way that you do after having left and write about it on your blogs? What do you think it would take to change the mindset of those still living in their bubble?

    • Thank you for the questions. For the most part they don’t understand it. In fact, they pretty much unanimously take offence to it, and I often feel guilty for whatever hurt my criticism causes. But at the end of the day I can’t censor my beliefs because people (even those I love and care about) don’t like it, especially since I see it as tough love.

      I don’t believe the people “Eastbound and Down” makes fun of are inherently ignorant. In fact, in my world travels I’ve met dozens of people from other countries who criticize Americans for being so xenophobic and ignorant of the rest of the world. Anytime that has happened I’ve defended Americans by explaining that small town America is extremely isolated. The example I give is that if you got in a car in Belgium and drove for 9 hours you could cross the borders of 6 countries. If you got in a car in Texas and drove for 9 hours you still wouldn’t reach the border of Texas. Living in a place like that it’s almost impossible to experience a different point of view even if you wanted to.

      Plus, humans are cognitive misers. Our brains use schemas to master our environments. While this has helped our species survive, it has the downside of rejecting anything new. This is why people experience culture shock. Visiting a foreign country is so far outside our comfort zone that it triggers the fight-or-flight mechanism in our brains. It’s not because we’re weak willed; that’s just how our brains work. I’m proud that our blog can help open people’s eyes to different ways of life and help show people that there are other, equally valid and in some ways, better ways of life than what we were born into. But the best way to break the mold is to get out of the country and experience different cultures first hand. Unfortunately, the systematic economic oppression inherent in the American system makes this impractical for most Americans. Add to that the cold war intensity of pro-American psy-ops propaganda the American population is submitted to, and you’ve got a perfect recipe for a closed mind. The only thing that’s going to fix that is improved technology which will allow cheaper travel and greater cultural diffusion through the media.

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