Americans are the most isolated people on Earth. Not in any kind of logistical way, but on a social level. The American culture has become unrelatable. With the dissonance displayed in our thinking, speaking, and behavior, the rest of the world can only scratch their heads. Various movements have been stirring since roughly 9/11, and this last election has pushed them all into solidarity. The subsects have aligned in opposition to a common enemy: a loosely elected businessman and the returning idea of fascism.
There is a stigma that comes with higher education that can only be found in America. When sharing a fact or opinion, everyone will question your authority: what makes you so informed? When you share your credentials, your education, you become a different kind of stupid. Those with an academic background are dismissed just as quickly as those without. From a few community college classes to a degree from Yale, the same people that questioned your credentials will ridicule your college experience. “Just another brain-dead college kid learning all of that liberal propaganda”. This mindset, this blatant resistance of education and understanding, is a cognitive hurdle only Americans face. In this nation, everyone seems to know more than the next from the comfort of a couch cushion.
There’s a misconception in America that everyone is as smart as they can be. They are informed, and they know the Truth. This is one of many illusions Americans have put in place to hinder themselves. We use these illusions to justify new or damaging behavior. Examples of this can be seen in the NRA, and the modern idea of the Patriot. The illusion is that if you aren’t wearing camouflage, bearded, half-drunk, and up to your knees in bullets and firearms, you aren’t a real American. Eat steak and bacon for every meal, and wear a gun on your hip, or you’re just a Communist pussy. Clinging to guns is commonplace in our culture, likely due to the rampant paranoia and depression.
The American Dream is another example of an illusion, although it affected earlier generations. Part of it still lingers in the idea that anything is possible if you break your back working every single day. You may feel compelled to buy a house or a diamond ring, entrench yourself in debts you’ll pay into until you expire. Americans are riding the coattails of a lot of failed ideals, and this is just one.
Manifest Destiny is the best example. Americans project a mentality like no one else. We insist on chastising and belittling the rest of the world, pretending we are the pinnacle of social and economic success. We degrade higher education and those who choose to pay for it. We flex our muscles from across the biggest moat that ever existed, but when real danger and turmoil presents itself, we turn out the light and pretend no one’s home. This geographical isolation has allowed us to flourish in a way most nations never experience. America is removed from the chaos of the Middle East, the turmoil within Europe, the pollution and morale pitfalls of China, and the nationalism of Russia. Instead, it snuggles in between two friendly countries who could only ever pose a threat by harboring bombs and battalions for large nations, much like the Cuban Missile Crisis. Our Commander-in-chief has made insulting Mexico a habit during his conferences, placed jacked taxes on their imports, and will even attempt to build a wall. Perhaps not a farfetched reality, Mexico being swayed by a foreign power.
The untamed arrogance that Americans project is the fleeting bitterness of Manifest Destiny. We believe we’re the greatest because we still believe all of this is ours, sea to shining sea. Our culture is unrelatable because none of our beliefs are consistent. We’re a “Christian” nation with a 50% divorce rate and an industrial war complex. We demand veteran healthcare, but we never hesitate to send our boys to war (and let them kill themselves after coming home, one every hour). We bark for more rights when not everyone is equal. We claim to be pro-life, but refuse to host refugees in any capacity. America attempts to wear a Christian mask that cracked clean in half more than a century ago. Slavery, civil war, atomic bombings, government cover-ups, and NSA scandals: are these the acts Christians want to represent their faith? America is a constant contradiction.
One of America’s biggest contributing issues is its lack of communication. No one can really have a discussion anymore because there are so many gaps not just in our beliefs, but our thinking patterns as well. This conundrum is reinforced by the American media, which perpetuates nothing but fabrication. We can’t have an honest conversation because the information that we have and share is false. If we aren’t being truthful to ourselves, how can we expect to be truthful to one another? Every link and headline we share down the shitpipe just adds another echo to the lies we’re already hearing.
This break in communication can be compared to a cancer, which is a cell that has also lost its ability to communicate- that’s what makes it so dangerous. Since it can’t interact with its fellow cells, that leaves two avenues: killing other cells, and reproducing itself. The American Cancer is a perfect reflection.
Whatever dialogue is attempted in America is further diluted by the internet, social media in particular. Any topic or debate is trivialized with memes and barstool statistics. The internet has opened totally new doors for criticism, meaning that everyone online is a certified expert. The caliber of criticism one can find online is comparable to the blind obese giving tips to Olympic athletes. Social media has opened similar doors for “activism”. Everyone with an internet connection is now a full-time revolutionary. Between meme sharing, photo filters, and ten minute informational Youtube videos, a person can feel like they’re changing the world without ever looking up from their cellphone.
Stupidity is able to flourish online because confirmation can be found anywhere. A person can develop a totally unfounded notion, and the internet will bend and contort itself to make the idea seem true- no matter how crazy it might be. If we aren’t concocting crazy (or precise) conspiracy theories, we’re drowned in pop-culture. Trending topics and Instagram updates. Leg day and #WCW, Vine videos and themed blogs. Every scrap of knowledge humans have ever known, compiled and easily accessed, and we use it to look at pictures of cats. Another failing idea that could potentially hinder future generations.
This is the information age. No matter your background or walk of life, there is no longer an excuse to be ignorant. Too often does one person let another do their thinking. Instead of machines, their brains have turned into molds for other people’s ideas. Despite living among so much technology and raw data, we still choose to share lies given to us and confirmed by ourselves and the media. Until any shred of research is done, anything shared is a lie or an opinion.
America’s motto lists it as “free” and “brave”. The constant fear and paranoia we express does not support that statement. The unwillingness to assist those in need does not support it. The average concerns of the everyday citizen- which includes the constant threat of a gun battle, immigration, and Islam- are childish. The failed ideals of former generations (which, consequentially, also failed) leave the American population with a deep cognitive dissonance, misplaced values and misdirected rage, narcissism, and maybe a case of Stockholm syndrome. The illusions we have in place keep our perspectives limited and stagnant. A shift in perspective is the spark to any change. To change perspectives is to understand, and to understand is to learn. These are the keys to killing the cancer and opening the channels for communication.