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America-centric attitudes on MetaFilter
March 6, 2003 8:49 AM   Subscribe

American attitudes on the net... [more inside]
posted by twine42 to Etiquette/Policy at 8:49 AM (63 comments total)

One of the reasons I left Fark was the growing levels of feelings against non-Americans. The standard response to the French is now Surrendering [Churchill recommended they surrender] and comments about their cheese and their fries. The British always have bad teeth. But everyone is somehow less important than those people in the USA. Now we get this in Metafilter. Yes, I appriciate that it was a comment that can be taken in several ways, but it bugs me.

Do I envoke Godwins if I suggest this attitude to the rest of the world is one of the reasons we're currently looking at being the agressors in a war for the first time since the 1900's?
posted by twine42 at 8:50 AM on March 6, 2003


It's a mistake to ascribe much importance to anything said on Fark, let alone a longstanding catchphrase like France surrendering.

It's also quite a leap from ignorance on the net to geopolitical aggression. There are lots of ignorant people on the net, but they're not pushing the buttons. There are a few ignorant people pushing the buttons, but I don't think they're on the net...

hilarity ensues
posted by mookieproof at 9:11 AM on March 6, 2003


So you are equating someone's dislike for British TV / Games-shows with the dislike of the United States' Foreign Policy?

You pompous ass.
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 9:15 AM on March 6, 2003


I don't think the attitude being displayed in that particular thread was "this is less important than us 'mercans", but rather "oh, this isn't about the 'Who Wants to Be a Millionaire' that I thought it was going to be about". The fact is, a large proportion of MeFites are in the U.S., so in instances where a reference could be to either a U.S.-specific item or a non-U.S. one, the initial response of a lot of people is going to be much like the one you see here. If the show in question were, for instance, "One Foot in the Grave", there wouldn't be any ugly Americans assuming the thread was really supposed to be about "The Bill Cosby Show"*, and voicing their disapproval/non-interest when they realize differently.

And as for French references, well, they've always been funny.

* - his second show, which was in fact a knock-off of the much better BBC original.
posted by yhbc at 9:16 AM on March 6, 2003


I think that there is a very strong argument in claiming that MetaFilter is very pro-America and not so hot on other countries. That said, the web is supposed to cross borders and I think that MeFi does a very good job doing that, but there is a very large segment of the MeFi population that is American. HOWEVER, most Americans here treat everybody quite fairly, I think. Unfortunately there are always a few people who's voices seem to be louder than the others and who will make statements such as the one you linked to. FWIW, I've seen far worse than that one. What are you going to do about it? Short of mentioning it here, what can be done about it? For the most part I ignore it and do my best not to respond in kind.

Also, FWIW, I think you may have gotten a better response (yeah, I've got a crystal ball) had you not mentioned America being the aggressors in a possible war.
posted by ashbury at 9:16 AM on March 6, 2003


HOWEVER, most Americans here treat everybody quite fairly, I think.

I've always felt welcome. Never been called a volvo driving, ABBA singing, suicidal leggy blonde.
posted by soundofsuburbia at 9:24 AM on March 6, 2003


ashbury, yeah, that's true. Oh well.

What I meant was actually summed up in a fark thread (strangely) when someone pointed out that a little while ago the bombs in the Philippines would have been ignored as 'forn parts' but now it's highly important because it's a bomb.

This subject kind of pisses me off becuase of all the lives that were lost in this country as a result of American (public, not government) funding of the IRA.

Funny how things change when on home territory.

Oh, and I agree about being an ass, but Pompus? How give me a break. Briefly defending my (now accepted to be) foolish mentioning of foreign policy, I'd suggest that the American belief (government, not public) that they are the policemen of the world that caused the problems that have lead to the current situation. But I know I'll lose that one.

Trust me, things are still very different to fark, but I normally put that down to this being a home for people with brains while fark is for people who are 15. Or 15 at heart.

Still no cure for cancer?
posted by twine42 at 9:26 AM on March 6, 2003


I think US-centricism is definitely to be avoided as much as possible. The participation and perspective of other nations is far too important to Metafilter to take a chance on alienating or discouraging non-US members and readers.

The whole point of the Web is that it is World-Wide.

An example: if you are posting something that will only be relevent to US readers, a brief, simple note explaining such goes a long way toward extending a feeling of welcoming and inclusiveness to other nationalities.
posted by Shane at 10:24 AM on March 6, 2003


If it makes you feel any better, there's every bit as much US-bashing on this forum as there is US-centrism. We're nothing if not self-deprecating, despite it all.
posted by dhoyt at 10:34 AM on March 6, 2003


I'd like to report the boy eyeballkid for persistently spreading the rumour my country doesn't exist, to the point even I have to check sometimes.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 10:36 AM on March 6, 2003


Oh, come on. POR-tu-gal? I mean it just sounds made up. :)
posted by dhoyt at 10:39 AM on March 6, 2003


This subject kind of pisses me off becuase of all the lives that were lost in this country as a result of American (public, not government) funding of the IRA.
well, might i suggest then, very gently and respectfully of course, that you get your imperialist, colonizing arses out of ireland? no? thought not. :-)
posted by quonsar at 10:41 AM on March 6, 2003


quonsar: if you hadnt noticed, we've been trying to do that for quite some time now, and - I'd say - with some success. Hopefully, the ultimate result will be a united island of Ireland (which both my parents hail from, BTW). That can only occur with the consent of both communities - or the cut & run of the UK govt. & it's forces (not a realistic option).

Back on topic: Metafilter is a genuine internationalist WWW space. However not all of it's members realise that - and make inane, irrelevant comments like "Am I the only one who finds this less interesting because it was the British version of the show?" Why on earth bother to post that?
posted by dash_slot- at 11:26 AM on March 6, 2003


I'm a little confused. In your link there was one comment by one person:

Am I the only one who finds this less interesting because it was the British version of the show?

which was immediately shot down in a 3 paragraph treatise on how the American media sucks and how an American contributor is "curious to see how this turns out." as well as a myriad of other mild smacks at the US and you are complaining that the Americans are bashing non-Americans? This is too confusing. You even bash America in a MeTa thread! So one person makes a dumb comment and is uninterested in British entertainment news, this means there's a rash of UK bashers out there? We bash the US every day here in very hateful ways and someone shows mild displeasure at your entertainment news and you get enraged at the non-American attacks? Good thing we don't get pissed off when Brits say Dubya is a moron or you'd all be in big trouble on here!
posted by Pollomacho at 11:28 AM on March 6, 2003


And hey, let's all remember you gave you non-merkins this sandbox in the first place. Show a little respect for Al Gore, willya? Jebus.
posted by WolfDaddy at 11:30 AM on March 6, 2003


uh, who gave you. I am not Al Gore. And neither are you, Miguel.
posted by WolfDaddy at 11:30 AM on March 6, 2003


Oh, I'd like to add, while I found your article interesting and a refreshing break from Iraq threads, I generally find entertainment news, regardless of nationality, pretty inane. Its a TV show, who gives a damn really?
posted by Pollomacho at 11:32 AM on March 6, 2003


I can understand an American reading the link and being surprised that it wasn't about the US version of the show. What I find hard to understand is why anyone would bother to write about their displeasure. A post that consists of nothing more than "hey, I'm a xenophobe, is anyone else a xenophobe too?" seems pretty stupid.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 11:44 AM on March 6, 2003


NEWSFLASH
MetaFilter, dateline 3/6/2003

MeFite Expresses Surprise at Fellow Members' Propensity to Bother Typing the First Thing that Pops to Mind

Film at eleven.
posted by yhbc at 11:50 AM on March 6, 2003


Also, there's a lot of local interest pieces, like some fire in some theater somewhere, which don't really have any global (in some cases not even regional) resonance.
posted by signal at 11:51 AM on March 6, 2003


Can we ship Regis across the pond as a peace offering?

Please?
posted by thatweirdguy2 at 11:52 AM on March 6, 2003


MeFite Expresses Surprise at Fellow Members' Propensity to Bother Typing the First Thing that Pops to Mind

Call me an idealist.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 11:55 AM on March 6, 2003


well, might i suggest then, very gently and respectfully of course, that you get your imperialist, colonizing arses out of ireland?

Love to sweetie, if only the Irish would let us leave.

;p
posted by inpHilltr8r at 11:57 AM on March 6, 2003


Its a TV show, who gives a damn really?

Like all Americans, I assume all British people are complete assholes like that Simon guy on American Idol or are highly trained agents of death like James Bond. Television helps me stereotype other cultures so I can worry about other things.
posted by Stan Chin at 11:58 AM on March 6, 2003


Stan, I think you left off the part about being really good, but rather pompous butlers!
posted by Pollomacho at 12:00 PM on March 6, 2003


Like all Americans, I assume all British people are complete assholes like that Simon guy on American Idol or are highly trained agents of death like James Bond.

Whereas Chuck Barris was both.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 12:03 PM on March 6, 2003


Whereas Chuck Barris was both

Ditto for Stephen Segal
posted by Pollomacho at 12:13 PM on March 6, 2003


Love to sweetie, if only the Irish would let us leave.

Oh, c'mon, inphil, you know that's not fair. Every Irish Catholic or Irish Republican or Irish...native, or whatever way you want to describe them, would gladly see English involvement lessened.

Paisley is a proud Protestant, a mataphorical or literal descendant of the Ulster Colony or Plantation (Scots/English), that remnant of English colonialism in which England took the advice of Machiavelli...

The other and better course is to send colonies to one or two places, which may be as keys to that state, for it necessary either to do this or else to keep there a great number of cavalry and infantry. A prince does not spend much on colonies, for with little or no expense he can send them out and keep them there, and he offends a minority only of the citizens from whom he takes lands and houses to give them to the new inhabitants; and those whom he offends, remaining poor and scattered, are never able to injure him; whilst the rest being uninjured are easily kept quiet, and at the same time are anxious not to err for fear it should happen to them as it has to those who have been despoiled. In conclusion, I say that these colonies are not costly, they are more faithful, they injure less, and the injured, as has been said, being poor and scattered, cannot hurt. Upon this, one has to remark that men ought either to be well treated or crushed, because they can avenge themselves of lighter injuries, of more serious ones they cannot; therefore the injury that is to be done to a man ought to be of such a kind that one does not stand in fear of revenge.

...but then botched the job by not managing the colony with fairness and respect to the original "natives."

But you and I have gone down this route before and I think last time we agreed not to have such a complex discussion here :- )

Cheers,

posted by Shane at 12:16 PM on March 6, 2003


("mataphorical" shd. be "metaphorical")
posted by Shane at 12:18 PM on March 6, 2003


Sure its "March Madness" and all but how'd we get off on this sports tangent?

After Torrian Jones made two free throws to tie the score for the Irish, Anthony gave the Orangemen (22-4, 12-3) the lead on a rebound basket.
posted by Pollomacho at 12:31 PM on March 6, 2003


Anthony gave the Orangemen (22-4, 12-3) the lead on a rebound basket.
Damn those Orangemen!
posted by Shane at 1:12 PM on March 6, 2003


BTW, pollo, that was a great one.
posted by Shane at 1:18 PM on March 6, 2003


Err, not to break up the discussion, but Ian Paisley's not Irish. He's the Divil. Have a rational discussion about sensible exit strategies, but don't introduce Paisley as though he can be part of a solution.

A smaller man might call your attempt to throw one past us insulting to American ignorance.
posted by yerfatma at 5:11 PM on March 6, 2003


This is a fuckin' joke right?
posted by Witty at 5:40 PM on March 6, 2003


Can I make the request that this thread not be derailed by stupid Americans who obviously know nothing about the Northern Irish situation? *cough*quonsar*cough*Shane*
posted by salmacis at 1:11 AM on March 7, 2003


This is a fucking joke right?
posted by Witty at 1:40 AM on March 7, 2003


A sharp hemorrhoid can poke out an eye.
posted by Opus Dark at 3:15 AM on March 7, 2003


Can I make a request that Anglo members not act as though the English have all that solid a grasp of the "Northern Irish situation" either? You don't own it and I've yet to see anyone who figured out the answer, much less the extra credit question that would give you the right to act pissy.
posted by yerfatma at 6:20 AM on March 7, 2003


I don't need a right to act pissy.
posted by walrus at 6:41 AM on March 7, 2003


Sigh. One would hope you wouldn't want to act that way. Unless you're not looking for answers and just being a pain.
posted by yerfatma at 7:16 AM on March 7, 2003


Can I make the request that this thread not be derailed by stupid Americans who obviously know nothing about the Northern Irish situation? *cough*quonsar*cough*Shane*

Excuse the fuck outta me, salmacis, but was any fucking one thing I said factually incorrect? Can there be any discussion of the Irish situation without a discussion of its historical roots and the Ulster colony? Is it better to sling around uneducated stereotypes about a "religious conflict" the way the media does? Would that make you happier? "Those fightin' Irish, always killing each other over religion."

"Stupid Americans." Excuse me, I don't do this often, but Fuck you, you arrogant asshole. Go to hell.
posted by Shane at 7:22 AM on March 7, 2003


And before you bait and troll any further, I'm fucking off outta this inane discussion.
posted by Shane at 7:24 AM on March 7, 2003


...but then botched the job by not managing the colony with fairness and respect to the original "natives."

Ring any bells, Shane?
posted by salmacis at 7:30 AM on March 7, 2003


Ring any bells, Shane?

Yes, America is heinous. Colonialism was (is?) heinous (In general, most people are heinous.) No argument. Wasn't that easy? Now which one of us is buying the first round? : )

*Resolves to not discuss PETA, the health effect of smoking, OR the Irish question on Mefi.*
posted by Shane at 7:47 AM on March 7, 2003


Sigh. One would hope you wouldn't want to act that way. Unless you're not looking for answers and just being a pain.

Sorry you're right, I was just being a pain. It was a botched attempt at an ironic response. I wouldn't want to act "that way" usually, and I'm wishing now that I'd never fouled this thread. However, to give you a more serious response, I would feel I had a right to discuss a situation which someone had attempted to blow me up over, whether I understood all the arguments to the nth degree or not. Apologies if that sounds pissy.
posted by walrus at 7:58 AM on March 7, 2003


Ring any bells, Shane?

Yep, sounds pretty much like British colonial policy anywhere they set foot Ireland, America, India, South Africa... oh, were you trying to point fingers at the US? Gee, nice to meet you kettle, us pots learned everything we know about imperialism for you! Last I heard you were working as our imperial sidekicks in the great "buddy comedy" called Iraq.

I thought this thread was about uber-American attitudes on MeFi, why is it I feel the need to get defensive in the face of anti-Americanism now?
posted by Pollomacho at 7:59 AM on March 7, 2003


Sorry, from you not for you!
posted by Pollomacho at 8:00 AM on March 7, 2003


I can respect when someone tells me I shouldn't talk about Ireland because I'm stuck in Fumbuck OH and I don't have to worry about bombs going off. I get testy, though, when someone tells me I'm a stupid American or insults my knowledge of UK history/politics. M'kay?
posted by Shane at 8:17 AM on March 7, 2003


the brits WANT you to think its a complex and easily misunderstood situation, when its just the same old "came, saw, took it for ourselves" crapola they have been foisting on the world since they figured out how to build ships. 26+6=1. get out of ireland.
posted by quonsar at 8:32 AM on March 7, 2003


One interesting observation which falls out of this thread concerns the inherent danger of assuming that guilt should be incurred by any individual citizen of a nation which is perceived overall to have made or to be making mistakes, or having differences of behaviour and/or opinion. It just makes for prickly arguments. I am probably guilty of this sometimes too, for which I apologise. But I personally have never invaded and/or colonised anywhere, so at least I don't have that to apologise for. I do think they're unpleasant things to be doing, in general, so I will be making an effort not to.
posted by walrus at 8:44 AM on March 7, 2003


Nobody's blaming you, walrus, (or salmacis) for anything...
posted by Shane at 8:47 AM on March 7, 2003


i'd be quite interested to see the stats for us-non-us
members of metafilter.
remember our beloved ruler is of irish descent ..
best not to start on the irish thing really.
I'll just say that paisley has been a wonderful leader - for the nationalists.
good luck to the tic this month.
posted by sgt.serenity at 8:54 AM on March 7, 2003


I don't think I'm making myself very clear, Shane. I didn't like the "stupid americans" shtick either. Note to self: you should probably try to lay off making suboptimal comments in argumentative threads.
posted by walrus at 9:12 AM on March 7, 2003


Quonsar: the brits WANT you to think its a complex and easily misunderstood situation, when its just the same old "came, saw, took it for ourselves" crapola they have been foisting on the world since they figured out how to build ships. 26+6=1. get out of ireland.

I refer the hono(u)rable gentleman to the answer i gave him earlier. Making aggressive statements like "get out of ireland" [are we really taking instructions from the states now?] does not negate john major's 1993 statement "Britain...has no fundamental economic or strategic interest in keeping Northern Ireland as part of the United Kingdom as such" [link does not quite put the words in Major's mouth, but we knew what it meant].

The most common viewpoint from the average man-in-the-street in England is: let them sort it out for themselves, i.e., self determination. Maybe it's time someone started a newsfilter post on this- to keep us up to date...?
posted by dash_slot- at 6:11 PM on March 7, 2003


let them sort it out for themselves

I'm sure England would have dumped the mess by now if not for Irish Loyalist votes at election time and maybe some business interests and some money floating around. Let's face it, if there's nothing to be gained from the situation, the English gov't is not going to stay just to uphold an ancient agreement with the Protestant colony.
posted by Shane at 6:50 PM on March 7, 2003


Shane: let's face it - it would be a bloodbath, without a politically functioning settlement, both sides would resort to death squad type activity again. This is a subject which isn't easy to settle, but believe me, there's no profit in the Six Counties for Britain. If anything, it drains tax revenue from the rest of the UK (not the only consideration, but illustrative of the type of commitment the UK has to its voters in the North).

PS: it's a British gov't. presence in the north: England is a constituent part of the UK (with Wales, Northern Ireland & Scotland: formally, the United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland)
posted by dash_slot- at 7:01 PM on March 7, 2003


you should see the northern irish version of 'millionare' btw,
paisley is the host and just shouts "NO!!" when anyone offers him an answer.
posted by sgt.serenity at 8:58 PM on March 7, 2003


While I apologise for the "stupid Americans" term I used, the two individuals I mentioned commented again (despite Shane promising he was out of this conversation):

Shane: I'm sure England would have dumped the mess by now if not for Irish Loyalist votes at election time and maybe some business interests and some money floating around. Let's face it, if there's nothing to be gained from the situation, the English gov't is not going to stay just to uphold an ancient agreement with the Protestant colony.

and quonsar: the brits WANT you to think its a complex and easily misunderstood situation, when its just the same old "came, saw, took it for ourselves" crapola they have been foisting on the world since they figured out how to build ships. 26+6=1. get out of ireland.


I'm sorry, but both comments back up my earlier statement. They both betray an utter misunderstanding of the situation in Northern Ireland.

Shane: There is no such thing as an "English government". Northern Ireland has a fair representation in Whitehall, and only the SDLP are the political allies of the ruling Labour Party.

quonsar: If you're so upset about the old colonising thang, perhaps you should reflect on how you came to be American in the first place.

The UK would quite happily let Northern Ireland declare it's independence if it wasn't for the pesky facts that a) the majority of Northern Irelanders consider themselves British and don't want independence, and b) the paramilitaries on both sides would make Belfast look like Kosovo.
posted by salmacis at 2:25 AM on March 8, 2003


BTW quonsar: Do you regard the IRA as "freedom fighters"?
posted by salmacis at 2:27 AM on March 8, 2003


{in my most bestest attempt at a British accent}
This is a fucking joke right?
posted by Witty at 5:55 AM on March 8, 2003


salmacis : do you regard genesis as "musicians" ?
posted by sgt.serenity at 8:08 AM on March 8, 2003


Hehe. I've not listened to Genesis in years. Not seen my profile? :-)
posted by salmacis at 10:18 AM on March 8, 2003


While /slot's polite clarificastion of "British" and "English" is appreciated and noted, I can only say to salmacis:

Whatever.

-and-

Why can't you play nice like /slot?

(and, dash sot, I agree with the bloodbath bit, but I still think England would ditch it if there weren't something other than concern for the citizens of N Ireland stopping them. I could always be wrong.

salmacis, does my location also prevent me from discussing S African politics or history? Will we never see you discuss anything but the UK on Mefi? Your ridiculous attitude galls me. You know nothing about me.
posted by Shane at 1:32 PM on March 8, 2003


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