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Why are americans obsessed with careers, status and money?

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Why are americans obsessed with careers, status and money?

Postby mattyman » Mon Jan 10, 2011 12:05 am

I'm just a bit curious about something. What I'm about to say might come accross as judgemental in some ways, but rest assured it's not meant to be. I just want to share something.

How come americans seem to judge each other so much by these things? We don't get this very much over here.

I've noticed some things that are constant on many sites that I've been on. Americans do tend to be forever trying to prove something or trying not to show any sign of weakness. I've noticed that they love the word 'loser'. It's as if they want to feel better than anyone else. There seems to be this trait in their psyche that they have to feel that they are getting somewhere in a race, that life is all about winners and losers. Could all this stem from the way the culture makes people doubt themselves and that they are not good enough? It must be true that americans are in a large part very insecure.

What makes me laugh is that there's a lot of dating advice that claims you need to have money and/or a good job to be attractive. What kind of woman goes after a guy for his money, cars and house? A gold-digging user I presume. Sorry to sound cynical, but this sort of thing really makes me piss myself with laughter.

What's with the 'you are what you do' mentality? Is this sort of thing common elsewhere besides the USA. I heard Japan is very career-oriented. Are there many countries where women judge a mans worth by his career status and money?
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Postby ExpandMindset » Mon Jan 10, 2011 12:25 am

I think a lot of it has to do with the individualistic aspect of our culture. Once you graduate from school, you're expected (by society/family/friends, etc.) to going out on your own. I think everyone is trying to "make it". Here, for most people in the US (probably not those who subscribe to the forum), it's all about the Benjamins (money). They want the best clothes, fastest car, most expensive house. It's all for show. We are probably the most insecure people in the whole world.

Unfortunately, most people here cannot see past this B.S. We are a business culture. I work for a German company, and many Germans here always complain how as soon as they serve your food at a restaurant they give you the bill. Apparently, in Germany, dinners are longer.

Here everything is rushed, cannot seem to relax. We might have a high quality of living than most countries from a total cash perspective, but I hardly believe we are truly happy. I would rather make less cash and live in a nice place with beautiful women!!! NOT FEMINISTS!!!!
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Postby Think Different » Mon Jan 10, 2011 12:40 am

Mattyman, I'm not sure where you live, but here in the US, ESPECIALLY on the east coast it's all about what you do for a living that defines you. Typically, the first thing a person here will ask you is "what do you do?", when they meet you, whether it's in a club, bar, ballgame, etc. It's really pathetic and shallow, but I recognize the reason they ask it: they have no other way to connect with people, or have lost the knowledge of how to do so. Our once great pioneering spirit has devolved into a country full of "every man for himself" or "everyman is an island unto himself". We no longer have a single unifying goal or philosophy to guide and unite us, and our Constitution was trashed long ago, as you see by our recent government administrations.

I think you hit the nail on the head, when you suggested that Americans have a terrible insecurity problem. If they get insulted, they usually fall back on "well, we saved Europe's ass in WWII" or some such tripe. Little do they realize that we've gotten our asses kicked in more wars in the last 100 years, then we've won. And we keep getting into or generating conflicts around the world in order to show off again, all in the name of bringing democracy to the world. Bullshit.

Anyhow, Americans live to work, and we have nothing else in our lives. We are socially inept, compared to much of the world, and have to find "meaningful" social contact in churches, synagogues, cults, etc., since everywhere else you go, it's all so obviously superficial. I think Mikhail Gorbachev said it best, when he said that Americans suffer from "winner's complex". I think that our lack of cultural prowess leads to our attitude of bullying around the world, since we don't know how to meet people at their own level. We also tend to back up our behavior with a degree of moral elitism, as you see in the right-wing evangelical crowd. A very large percentage of Americans truly believe that God personally hand-picked America to lead the world militarily, morally, and spiritually. I know that Europeans like to chalk this up to "Puritanism", but that is far too simplistic. Puritanism was a small isolated movement in the Massachusetts Bay Colony 400 years ago and was more about moderation. While we do have some remnants of that mentality, it is more a confusing mixture of Presbyterian/Methodist/Calvinist Protestant work ethic (i.e. God proves his favor on people by making them rich), which you still see today in the megachurch prosperity gospel movement as seen in the likes of TD Jakes and Joel Osteen. A fundamental principle in American thinking is, "if it doesn't earn me money, it's not worth my time". Or, more simply "time is money". That's partially why Americans don't care about classical education or broadening their cultural knowledge. It's not that we're dumb at all (look at all the Nobel Prizes, for example), it's just considered a waste of time.

Don't get me wrong, I love many things about America, but find that much of that is based on what America WAS, constitutionally. That means that we are no longer the same country of 200 years ago, but a shadow of the greatness de Tocqueville wrote about. It is truly sad for me, as an American to say this, but it's simply the truth. I take the good from the US where I can find it, and leave the rest at the door. As my Italian wife tells me, "America is elsewhere". I do not dislike Americans, but feel terribly sorry for them, since I know we are unhappy here. Unfortunately, most Americans have blinders on or have no understanding of how to get out, change things, or turn the ship around.
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Postby Contrarian Expatriate » Mon Jan 10, 2011 1:23 am

RedDog wrote: Typically, the first thing a person here will ask you is "what do you do?", when they meet you, whether it's in a club, bar, ballgame, etc.

I have noticed this too and I resent it. I have what most would consider a very good career and I've met with success beyond my expectations, BUT I do not define myself by what I do nor do I want to begin relationships with people sizing me up in that manner.

Needless to say, I don't do well with American expats I come into contact with. I noticed British are obsessed with this "what do you do" nonsense also.
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Postby globetrotter » Mon Jan 10, 2011 5:26 am

I am odd in that I don't ask about career at all. Where you are from, language, culture, food, history, comparisons home/here, etc.

Other expats pick up on this right away and we get along very well.

Several Brits have mentioned to me that Americans cannot answer a direct question anymore.
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Postby djfourmoney » Mon Jan 10, 2011 5:29 am

Interesting... The first thing out of most AW mouths is what do you do. This is a judgement call. The question actually is "Can You Afford Me". If you have a white collar job that answer is generally yes. Some times you get credit for working with your hands but still make better than average money (Construction, Contractor, etc).

If you doing anything less than this (sports not included) then your considered sub-par and likely to struggle. That is based on the fact that our social safety net is slowly being eaten away. Women need security (or the feeling of...) in order to feel relaxed enough to start a family. Seems some don't realize that A) you need to find a suitable man for reproduction in your late teens to early 20's. B) Career becomes secondary. Otherwise you end up with a great career, lots of money but no man and no children, your on the wrong end of 30 and your competition is fierce.

Some women have found that acceptable actually and seek "Life Partners". Somebody so they don't have to travel alone basically and so that when nature calls, they don't have to go bar hopping.

The problem is, not many men find THAT acceptable. So when you run into a bunch of 30something women and those without kids still aren't sure they want to have children.

But basically men get the education in a job they more than likely don't like very much and get all these others things (fancy apartment, expensive car, etc) all just to attract women, not so much for themselves.

That's why its a complete Rat Race, especially in White Collar circles.

While saying that, just add up if you can live on minimum wage. You likely can't, you would need double that just to be able to date period by American standards.

That's why even with all the industry hype surrounding MOB, one concrete fact is that you could spend LESS money finding a wife overseas than spending a year + looking for Miss Right locally or in-country.
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Postby jamesbond » Mon Jan 10, 2011 7:21 am

RedDog wrote:Mattyman, I'm not sure where you live, but here in the US, ESPECIALLY on the east coast it's all about what you do for a living that defines you. Typically, the first thing a person here will ask you is "what do you do?", when they meet you, whether it's in a club, bar, ballgame, etc. It's really pathetic and shallow, but I recognize the reason they ask it: they have no other way to connect with people, or have lost the knowledge of how to do so.

Anyhow, Americans live to work, and we have nothing else in our lives. We are socially inept, compared to much of the world, and have to find "meaningful" social contact in churches, synagogues, cults, etc., since everywhere else you go, it's all so obviously superficial.


How true, women especially in the US want to find out how much money a man makes when she first meets him by asking things like, "what do you do for a living?" or "where do you live?"

There are more workaholics in the US than any country in the world! "An idle mind, is the devils workshop" is a phrase that is popular in the United States.

In the USA it's, life, liberty and the pursuit of a paycheck! :D
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Postby momopi » Mon Jan 10, 2011 7:49 am

When people ask me what I do for a living, I tell them that I'm a full-service gas station attendant. I pump gas, wash windows, empty ash tray & spray air freshener, check fluid levels, clean wheels, then watch traffic for the customer as he/she pulls out of my gas station.

It takes them a while to realize there is no such thing here in OC. You'd have to be in Asia to get that kind of service:

http://videosift.com/video/Japanese-Gas ... ll-Service


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Postby gsjackson » Mon Jan 10, 2011 11:40 am

It's nothing new. Here's Tocqueville writing home to France about the Americans in 1830: "For you shall know that in this republican country they are a thousand times more fond of nobility, of titles, of crosses, and of all the inconsequential distinctions of Europe than we are in France. The greatest equality reigns here in the laws. It is even in appearance in the customs. But I tell you the devil loses nothing by it. And the pride which cannot come out in public finds at the very bottom of the soul a fine corner in which to install itself. We sometimes laugh heartily to ourselves at the way some of our acquaintances affect to link themselves to the families of Europe and at the industry with which they seize on the smallest social distinctions to which they may attain."

His thought was that in a country where the mythology holds that social status is continually fluid and up for grabs, people are always scratching and clawing to get ahead of the others and find a perch of some sort where they can look down upon their neighbors. Every day in America one is conscious of himself as a "winner" or a "loser," and that is a very different sort of condition from that enjoyed by most people throughout the history of humankind.
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Postby The_Adventurer » Mon Jan 10, 2011 12:43 pm

A lot of interesting observations, but no one has actually answered the question yet. Why are Americans like this? RedDog might be on to something, but I suspect there is more. Could be engineered?
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Postby vertical » Mon Jan 10, 2011 1:42 pm

Quotes:

"A very large percentage of Americans truly believe that God personally hand-picked America to lead the world militarily, morally, and spiritually"

I saw an interview with Jimmy Carter by Bill Maher, and the former president said the exact same thing. I was in shock that someone so high profile, a former president, would admit this. But the political climate in America is poisoned. I can't watch the news or read blog comments with liberals and right wingers slinging mud at each other.

"I work for a German company, and many Germans here always complain how as soon as they serve your food at a restaurant they give you the bill. Apparently, in Germany, dinners are longer."

I used to live in the Bay Area rat race and the waiters/bus boys would try to take your plate before you even finished, while you were still eating. I don't know if you've noticed, but most American meals are quick. Even when you see family out to dinner, they finish quickly and go. In the Bay Area, people would wolf down their food at restaurants. It was actually unsightly to see.

"Our once great pioneering spirit has devolved into a country full of "every man for himself" or "everyman is an island unto himself". We no longer have a single unifying goal or philosophy to guide and unite us"

Unfortunately, everyone's is trying to "make it to the top", and they're their own. When I was in Australia, I got more of the feeling, "we're in this together", but I never get feeling that back in America. Here it feels like it's every man, woman, child for themselves.
Last edited by vertical on Mon Jan 10, 2011 1:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby vertical » Mon Jan 10, 2011 1:45 pm

"Americans do tend to be forever trying to prove something or trying not to show any sign of weakness."

Yeah, can't show any weakness. We're a bunch of lonely, unhappy people, but can't show anyone that. Gotta pretend everything is fine. How are you? I'm perfect!
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Postby Winston » Mon Jan 10, 2011 4:38 pm

Mattyman, so you mean people in the UK don't usually ask "What do you do?" when they first meet you? If so, that's awesome!
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Postby Winston » Mon Jan 10, 2011 4:42 pm

vertical wrote:Quotes:

"A very large percentage of Americans truly believe that God personally hand-picked America to lead the world militarily, morally, and spiritually"

I saw an interview with Jimmy Carter by Bill Maher, and the former president said the exact same thing. I was in shock that someone so high profile, a former president, would admit this. But the political climate in America is poisoned. I can't watch the news or read blog comments with liberals and right wingers slinging mud at each other.

"I work for a German company, and many Germans here always complain how as soon as they serve your food at a restaurant they give you the bill. Apparently, in Germany, dinners are longer."

I used to live in the Bay Area rat race and the waiters/bus boys would try to take your plate before you even finished, while you were still eating. I don't know if you've noticed, but most American meals are quick. Even when you see family out to dinner, they finish quickly and go. In the Bay Area, people would wolf down their food at restaurants. It was actually unsightly to see.

"Our once great pioneering spirit has devolved into a country full of "every man for himself" or "everyman is an island unto himself". We no longer have a single unifying goal or philosophy to guide and unite us"

Unfortunately, everyone's is trying to "make it to the top", and they're their own. When I was in Australia, I got more of the feeling, "we're in this together", but I never get feeling that back in America. Here it feels like it's every man, woman, child for themselves.


Yeah I hate that about waiters! They are always trying to take your food when it's only half finished. It makes me afraid to even get up and go to the bathroom, else I may come back to find that my meal has been taken away. I've chewed out a number of waiters over this. I love embarassing them and leaving them no tip. Bunch of dumbasses.
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Postby Mr S » Mon Jan 10, 2011 4:59 pm

They do that in the Philippines a lot, try to take your food or drink before your finished with it. Annoying.
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