My mind, my thoughts, my words

Americans

And immediately you’ve got an image in your head – after reading that title – right!? Oh stereotypes, what would there be without them!

What are stereotypes actually, you may wonder. Well, there are different theories. One, for example, suggests that  frequent conscious thoughts quickly develop into subconscious stereotypes. Stereotypes may “reduce” an individual’s complexity, making it easier for us to categorise information and thus allowing us to organise, simplify and predict our world. They can therefore also save time (everyone’s in a hurry these days)!
Furthermore, stereotypes can make us feel better about ourselves because they somewhat cast a shadow on groups that are considered inferior and less worth.
Frequently, the media suggests stereotypes, nevertheless, even a single interaction with an individual of a group can make a person attach a characteristic to all members of that group, and often parents and teachers influence children’s belief systems.

So, back to Americans (because everyone knows that they’re best and everything should be about them, eh? ;)). As for me, I used to have two kinds of steretypes, mainly formed through the media:

An American person is either

  • an obese, fat, lazy, stupid person who’s got a dull job and doesn’t know what to do with his life, possibly still living at home, watching TV most of the time (of course, whilst eating fast food), not caring about the environment, ignorant of other countries and cultures and thinking that the USA are the centre of the world

or

  • a business person, may have some kind of “perfect body”-obsession (anorexic, botox-addict, or in the gym all the time if not at work), cold, arrogant, complaining a lot, wealthy, snobbish, impatient, always in a hurry, wasteful, patriotic, and again thinking that the USA are best in everything and everyone else is less worth.

Now that I actually know some Americans, I’ve got a further set of stereotypes in my head – possibly just applying (if at all) to those (or some (or only the couple I know)) who left the States though:

  • they have white teeth (seriously), a healthy weight (neither anorexic nor obese, i.e. not ‘obsessed’ with appearance), they’re easy-going and humorous, but don’t let people get close to them easily, still (mostly) nice though (well I have to say that, don’t I, in case my American friends read this😉 )

So these are my stereotypes for Americans. I believe that there may be a little truth about them, after all, stereotypes must have some origin (I’d need to actually go to the States to be able to say more). Generally, stereotypes focus on and exaggerate differences between groups, which can actually make people feel more like a part of a group (and we all like that feeling of ‘belonging’ somewhere) if they have the (good/bad) characteristics that are said to define that group. However, it makes groups seem very different when they are actually rather pretty much alike (e.g. obesity in Europe is almost as high as in the States). At the end of the day, you can find all kinds of people around the world, we’re all the same and still different, eh?

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This entry was posted on 12/06/2011 by in Media, Miscellaneous and tagged , .
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