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Why are Americans so "cliquish"

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Why are Americans so "cliquish"

Postby jamesbond » Thu Sep 02, 2010 2:29 am

I have often wondered why Americans are so "cliquish" and don't like making new friends. I noticed this back when I was in high school and even in college (however it wasn't as bad in college as it was in high school).

I wonder if a sociologist has ever done some research into this, there HAS to be a reason why most Americans don't like meeting new people and only hang out with people they already know. How are you supposed to make any friends living in this kind of environment?

I remember I moved to a different suburb right before I started my freshman year of high school and it was VERY difficult making friends. For some reason, people had formed their "cliques" already and didn't want anybody "new" joining their existing group of friends. How nice and welcoming they were to me, a new student! :roll: I noticed that other new kids to the area were also having the same problem (trying to "fit in").

What I find interesting is that in Europe and Russia, the people are more open to the idea of meeting new people and it's a LOT easier to make friends there. Why are things so different here in the USA? Is being unfriendly and anti-social something that is a learned behavior starting when people are children here in the US?
Last edited by jamesbond on Thu Sep 02, 2010 9:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby ladislav » Thu Sep 02, 2010 7:38 pm

It is a British/ Celtic thing. Not all of Europe is an easy-to-meet-people place. The Celtic/British area sucks. Since those are the people who have built the US and other Anglo countries, that is how things are.

Americans are not cliqueish in the movies though. After having watched Hollywood movies foreigners are dying to go and meet these open, warm people called Americans!
A brain is a terrible thing to wash!
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Postby picasso25 » Fri Sep 10, 2010 3:52 am

I agree with everything you're saying, Americans are totally cliquish, very unfriendly people, majority of them trashy and unintelligent, for some reason, When you are nice to people and try to meet them. They think that something is wrong, with you. They think you're gay, or they think you are pedophile or they think you are below them, f**k them
American women!!! Yuk!!!

what's that? you wanna tell me about who paris hilton is dating now. who cares!!!!
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unfriendly people

Postby starkeep » Fri Sep 10, 2010 4:40 am

8) I have noticed that also here. MOst people seem to stick with their racial group and maybe church group. This country has a high crime rate also
so sometimes its tuff to say which one is in what gang or who is a felon so most people stay seperate unless someone works at the same company. At least through the internet or church a few can meet here but other then that most stay seperate.
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Postby Marcus Aurelius » Fri Sep 10, 2010 6:23 am

You mentioned high school and college. I think this has to do with the fact that so many americans are still of that mentality. They are nothing more than the adult version of children.
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Postby Repatriate » Fri Sep 10, 2010 6:47 am

There's a lot of reasons that have been stated but I think Ladislav is correct in pointing out that the foundation for American culture is basically British anglo saxon protestant values. Those values tend to create people with a cold stiff upper lip, hard work, and snobbish mentality. It's good for productivity but really bad for forming large pleasant communities. Just look at the sort of anal retentive social etiquette invented by Brits and you realize why America is the way it is. These values have sort of trickled down over time and formed their own distinct "Americanisms" so America is a half-assed version of that.

On top of that America's social scene is ruled by subcultures and occupational communities..if you're not heavily into some form of music, art, or intensely focused career you're on the "outside" with a lot of people.

There are a few states where people are more socially mobile but it tends to be the exception rather than the rule.
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Postby MattFord » Wed Sep 15, 2010 8:22 pm

ladislav wrote:It is a British/ Celtic thing. Not all of Europe is an easy-to-meet-people place. The Celtic/British area sucks. Since those are the people who have built the US and other Anglo countries, that is how things are.


its funny i came here fed up with the u.k. and now i will have to defend it as if i like it here, but blaming americas problems on the brits is bullshit.

we were fine here til the feminism/americanisation thanks- not the other way round.

as someone who's lived here all his life i never had an issue mixing with others, in school, whatever. yeah you had some groups, but they werent very defined, it was fine to chat to whoever you wanted as long as you had the confidence at that age, which not many do.

as an adult i cant say ive noticed any cliques at all. perhaps they exist sure, but not so much so they pop into my head right now. i think you lot see us as introverted snobs like something out of a period film. theres a lot of things needed to fix this damn country and im moving as soon as i can get my arse outta here, but the social problems are your own problems as youre all too obsessed with work, the self, being better and richer than others- theres no sense of community or giving left in the U.S. its all me me me. and that didnt bloody come from here. and if it did- why you all moan about feminism if its been that way since what, the 1700s? cheers.

someone mentioned social etiquette. whats the issue? we need more social etiquette, not less. it should make a comeback. and to try to sort out some of the ignorance on here- old british etiquette at least was actually focused on others, not the self, being as humble as possible. it was nearly forbidden to even mention money or social class so you didnt come off pretensious or make others uncomfortable. you had to be modest and educated. pretty much the opposite of americans who just want to look down on their neighbour wit' less bling.

and as for the brits being hard workers... what planet you on? most of us even in this day and age arent interested in work over life.

my take on why americans are cliquey? cos theyre socially retarded. they need safe little tribes, gangs, rules, to belong. they dont have the balls or skills to go up to others and make friends with someone different from them. theyre scared and just try to make it all up with money, phoniness and whatever shit apple mac is bringing out next. like a lot of kids in britain now- but they got it off the americans, and ive seen that myself.
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Postby Think Different » Wed Sep 15, 2010 9:29 pm

To me, the screwed up behavior in America is due to our history of being a "pioneering", "loner" country from the beginning. Yes, the adventurous side of that is a positive, but going all the way back, this country was founded by people who did their own thing, took their family or their dog and horse and headed off into the back country, where they lived in relative isolation. When you don't see people more than once a few weeks, you get a perverted social mentality. Today, we isolate ourselves in our monstrously huge homes, drive everywhere in cars that prevent us from interacting with others, etc. etc.

I've noticed those Americans that WANT some sort of social interaction, have to join a club or a church to find it. There is no natural way to meet people anymore. Seems to me that certain churches or denominations have social interaction as their primary focus, and not the religious side. I also think that's why cults are so typical in the US, since people want to belong somewhere, but can't fit in anywhere else. To them, better a cult, then to be rejected by someone. Seems a high price to pay for what should be normal social interaction.

When I think back over my life and those who are still my friends and those who were "fair weather friends": church and Europeans. Those Americans I met and worked with for years couldn't give a shit about you, once you go on to another job. Of course, nowadays in order to find a job, they tell us we need to "network" and bullshit around with people. Fact is, that is a bullshit endeavor, since everyone knows it's all smoke and mirrors. These people don't give a crap about you at job networking events. Everyone is just trying to find an angle, how they can get a job, find a customer, earn more money, etc. Those Europeans (and Middle Easterners, actually) have remained constant and true friends over the years, and I know I can rely on them. Even without seeing each other much, they stay in touch, and they care about you. Americans, on the other hand: it's "out of sight, out of mind". Americans also see $$ as the bottom line in everything. If they don't see a money-making opportunity in a relationship, they won't make the effort. That's also why Americans don't give a shit about learning anything about other countries, cultures, and languages: they see no money in the matter, and what doesn't make money for Americans, is a waste of time. You can thank our Calvinist Puritan ancestors for that great attribute we retain.
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Postby momopi » Wed Sep 15, 2010 10:50 pm

During the Victorian era, America's population was 60-70% rural & 30-40% urban. In rural America the social life revolved around Church, where the one-room school was often located. Rural Americans were direct, if they wanted to talk to someone, they just went up and talked to them. By European standards of the time, we were pretty rude, and they looked down on our "low class" method of socializing at the Sunday service, church suppers and holiday balls.

Social interaction in Victorian England followed proper etiquette (unless if you're low class). If you wanted to call on someone to talk to them, you sent a card/invitation, and the person receiving it will take some time to "consider" your call before responding. A gentlemen interested in a young lady cannot simply stop her in the street or visit her house to talk to her. It was necessary to be properly introduced. Even if you meet a girl at a party and danced with her, you cannot automatically assume acquaintance, you still have to be properly "re-introduced" to the lady by a friend, relative, or matchmaker.

If the gentlemen was interested in a single lady who has "comed out" (completed her education and officially avail for marriage), he'd send a courting call, and the lady will take an appropriate time to consider before sending a reply. If the man is permitted to make his call, the girl would be escorted by her mother or an older female relative. Social etiquette demands that you can only chat about a limited range of topics during the initial meetings. If the lady is receptive of the man's intentions, they might go on dates with chaperon escort. The chaperon is typically an older relative of the girl and she will pay for most expenses -- the man did not pay for the dates.

Should the courtship be successful, both families will enter negotiations for the dowry, which is considered the bride/daughter's inheritance. The husband receives the bride and her dowry, which becomes his property. In cases where the women is a heiress, her family might setup part of the family fortune in an estate trust, overseen by the Court of Chancery, which has administrative rights over trusts, guardianship, and the administration of estates.

While all this might seen excessively tedious, it did provide a proper venue for gentlemen to meet, court, and marry ladies with proper education, upbringing, and family background. From their Victorian standards, they'd probably look down on our dating culture today as a low-class meat market. Back then marrying a proper girl brought assets to your household. These days, your gf/wife is more likely to bring debts. LoL.

If anyone is interested in watching anime based on Victorian era courtship, I could suggest Emma - A Victorian Romance:

http://www.amazon.com/Emma-Victorian-Ro ... B0012K53K4
http://www.amazon.com/Emma-Victorian-Ro ... y_d_text_b
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Postby jamesbond » Tue Feb 08, 2011 5:15 pm

ladislav wrote:It is a British/ Celtic thing. Not all of Europe is an easy-to-meet-people place. The Celtic/British area sucks. Since those are the people who have built the US and other Anglo countries, that is how things are.

Americans are not cliqueish in the movies though. After having watched Hollywood movies foreigners are dying to go and meet these open, warm people called Americans!

It does seem to be a British/Celtic thing. It seems like the only "snobby" people in Europe are the ones from the United Kingdom! The British having a saying, "keep a stiff upper lip" which implies you should keep your emotions to yourself.

In America, you do need to make your friends early in life and them hold onto those friends for the rest of your life (because those maybe the only friends you ever make). I wish people in these "anglo" countries wern't so cliquish and unfriendly. The funny thing is, most of the world is not like that (thank God). It's only the case in uptight, ridgid and anti-social anglo countries.
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Postby Boner_Jones » Tue Feb 08, 2011 5:44 pm

ladislav wrote:It is a British/ Celtic thing. Not all of Europe is an easy-to-meet-people place. The Celtic/British area sucks. Since those are the people who have built the US and other Anglo countries, that is how things are.

Americans are not cliqueish in the movies though. After having watched Hollywood movies foreigners are dying to go and meet these open, warm people called Americans!



hehe oh god this part made me laugh so hard :mrgreen:
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Postby S_Parc » Tue Feb 08, 2011 6:57 pm

The place where the cliques reach a relative maxima is high school.

Then, depending upon the college, of course, there's a type of flattening out during those years but then, grad school and entry level work, the cliques start to form again.

Now, here's the catch... a vast majority of individuals solidify their adult personalities in high school, thus, for the average American, high school is the most important stage of one's life. This is the part which Hollywood got right with 'American Graffiti', 'Fast Time At Ridgemont', & even 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer'. All those films and shows had the HS culture be the fixture of everyone's life despite the fact that many of those actors were clearly in their 20s and 30s & were portraying HS *seniors* but for years at a time.

I conclude that the reason why Americans are clique-y is that many are still living in high school, years after the fact, on an unconscious level. Thus, that M.O. is in constant formation.

A couple of friends of mine are actually homeschooling their teenage kids and having them take classes at the local college, part-time, for college credit instead of attending HS for the above reasons. It's actually easier for these kids to pseudo-socialize with 17-21 year old grown ups than it is to deal with snotty teenagers with huge hangups and entitlement issues. And in keeping up with the grown ups and seeing that if they studied hard that they could match them in academic achievement, is a great confidence booster. And unlike teenagers, other adults do encourage kids to put in the effort for schoolwork.
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Postby ExpeditionSailor » Wed Feb 09, 2011 12:02 am

Boner_Jones wrote:
ladislav wrote:It is a British/ Celtic thing. Not all of Europe is an easy-to-meet-people place. The Celtic/British area sucks. Since those are the people who have built the US and other Anglo countries, that is how things are.

Americans are not cliqueish in the movies though. After having watched Hollywood movies foreigners are dying to go and meet these open, warm people called Americans!



hehe oh god this part made me laugh so hard :mrgreen:


Well, as someone of largely British (more specifically Scottish) ancestry, I can confirm that the British, and people of British ancestry (not more than one or two generations back) are generally reserved and somewhat clannish. I know I often am, and it's not that I mean to be that way, but I tend not to warm up to people too quickly. I find I often need a little time to get to know people before I open up.

If you consider the violent, and often blood-soaked history of the British Isles and Ireland (there's a very good reason why the word 'bloody' isn't considered a nice word in the UK), it's not hard to see why people would develop a bit of a hard carapace. At one time, opening yourself up too soon without verifying whether the person approaching is friend or foe could get you killed.

Now, having said all that, I'm anything but cliquish once I get to know people. Do I have favourites? Sure I do. But I don't stick to a clique because I don't have one to belong to!
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Postby ExpeditionSailor » Wed Feb 09, 2011 12:16 am

S_Parc wrote:The place where the cliques reach a relative maxima is high school.

Then, depending upon the college, of course, there's a type of flattening out during those years but then, grad school and entry level work, the cliques start to form again.

Now, here's the catch... a vast majority of individuals solidify their adult personalities in high school, thus, for the average American, high school is the most important stage of one's life. This is the part which Hollywood got right with 'American Graffiti', 'Fast Time At Ridgemont', & even 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer'. All those films and shows had the HS culture be the fixture of everyone's life despite the fact that many of those actors were clearly in their 20s and 30s & were portraying HS *seniors* but for years at a time.

I conclude that the reason why Americans are clique-y is that many are still living in high school, years after the fact, on an unconscious level. Thus, that M.O. is in constant formation.

A couple of friends of mine are actually homeschooling their teenage kids and having them take classes at the local college, part-time, for college credit instead of attending HS for the above reasons. It's actually easier for these kids to pseudo-socialize with 17-21 year old grown ups than it is to deal with snotty teenagers with huge hangups and entitlement issues. And in keeping up with the grown ups and seeing that if they studied hard that they could match them in academic achievement, is a great confidence booster. And unlike teenagers, other adults do encourage kids to put in the effort for schoolwork.


You make some excellent points here. I've always been somewhat of a 'lone ranger' since I was always shut out when I was in high school. I didn't really fit in with any particular group and tended to march to the beat of my own drummer. So, no cliques for me.

One thing I notice is that society tends to foster and reinforce the maintenance of a high school mentality, and the media not only informs the popular culture that promotes lives in such a state, but it is the primary tool through which it can be accomplished. The masses are always easier to control when they're kept in a state of more or less permanent infancy or adolescence. True adults can think and act for themselves and be independent. Children can't do either, and adolescents think they can, but in the end they always end up having to approach their parents for more definitive guidance and are forever dependent until they reach maturity. As a result, we have a lot of ersatz adults running around, and the state provides a parental substitute.
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Postby S_Parc » Wed Feb 09, 2011 2:08 am

ExpeditionSailor wrote:You make some excellent points here. I've always been somewhat of a 'lone ranger' since I was always shut out when I was in high school. I didn't really fit in with any particular group and tended to march to the beat of my own drummer. So, no cliques for me.

One thing I notice is that society tends to foster and reinforce the maintenance of a high school mentality, and the media not only informs the popular culture that promotes lives in such a state, but it is the primary tool through which it can be accomplished. The masses are always easier to control when they're kept in a state of more or less permanent infancy or adolescence. True adults can think and act for themselves and be independent. Children can't do either, and adolescents think they can, but in the end they always end up having to approach their parents for more definitive guidance and are forever dependent until they reach maturity. As a result, we have a lot of ersatz adults running around, and the state provides a parental substitute.


This is fascinating ... on some level, I'm also still in HS. Back then, I was in the nerd/overachievers type of nonchalant clique where really, no one cared about each other and was more intent upon getting into a particular program or something along those lines (think premed, prelaw, pre-engineering, pre-MBA type of grind). The dumb people and even the so-called jocks admired my sense of tenacity/stick-with-it-ness. In fact, track/field & lacrosse were classic "endurance" sports for kids who're intent upon elite types of college programs, instead of let's say the serious athletic tracks like NCAA, etc, where one might actually aspire to be a professional athlete. Thus, it was a peaceful passage of time but clearly not one geared towards building better relationships.

Then, in the real world, I found a type of similar niche and now, with a sort of hybrid life, where I basically date overseas but work, 75% in the US, I'm still seen as a type of overachiever male who's somewhat hard nosed and business like. This is why I don't feel quite as disconnected as others here but at the same time, I'm aware that it's a limited sort of identity for a human existence.
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