I have a confession to make. I’ve never visited Canada in my life, although my British husband adores the country, has visited almost every inch of it and would love to live there someday.
Me, I’m not so sure.
One “meets” a lot of people in traipsing about the Internet. Most, I would hope, are normal people with normal everyday hopes, aspirations and goals. Some are – well - not-so-normal, but life’s like that.
Yet, normal or not, it never ceases to amaze me how many ornery, mean, bitter and downright rude people whose paths one crosses in surfing the Internet. I mean, I try to be an open-minded person. I’m originally from a rural part of a Southern state, but I’ve lived and travelled around much of Western Europe, and there are few things or people I’ve seen or met that shock me.
Travelling or living abroad, one encounters all the insipid, nationalistic prejudices that prevail between one nation and another – many of which have fomented over hundreds of years. The animosity between the French and the English has its roots in the 1066 Norman conquest. The dislike of the Northern English for those who live in the Southeast has existed since time out of mind, a jealous borne from the provinciality and dirty industry wealth of the North juxtaposed with the easy, profligacy of the “soft South.” The Scots hate the English because an English Queen died, her heir was the Scots’ king; he headed South and never looked back. The Irish hate the English because of years of subjugation and brutal rule. The French distrust the Germans, but grudgingly work with them in order to play the big dog in the EU. The French consider Africa to begin “at the Pyrenees.” The Mediterranean countries consider Africa best served in Africa. You get the picture.
With the dislike, come the caricatures: the stiff, upper-lipped Englishman, the drunken Scot, the ueber-romantic Frenchman reeking of Paco Rabanne and garlic, the macho Spaniard or Italian, the goose-stepping German, the stupid American.
It’s easy to generalise, but some people generalise to such an extent or a degree that when actually confronted with people from other places, they let generalisations override actual initial impressions.
Generalisation, at the moment, is rife in the US. It’s always been about, but somehow the Internet shoves this more in your face. The attitude of the Northeastern coast and the entire West Coast to the rest of America (“flyover country” or “shit-kicking inbreds toting Bibles and guns”), Teabaggers thinking anyone remotely left of centre to be card-carrying socialists or communist, the piously moral assumption of some liberals to criticize the South and Southerners as a whole with impunity – it’s all there to find on the Internet.
This worries me, because I find myself falling prey to the very generalisation I abhor.
This generalisation is exemplified by a regular commentator on Huffington Post, a child-woman (or so her dynamic would indicate) known only as Amanda BC.
Amanda BC is Canadian. She lives on Vancouver Island, and – apparently – she has precious little to do all day long but read the radge served up as fact on that aggregate and comment in the ugliest and rudest fashion possible, directing most of her invective towards American commentators and never ceasing to let them know how stupid they are, how they’re responsible for every known ill extant in the world and how Canadians are as pure as the driven snow.
Tell that to the baby seals you club. (See, there I go generalising!)
She regularly tells other commentators directly how stupid they are, she drones on and on about how incredibly ignorant Americans are, she addresses other commentators directly as “fascist”. And, yet, such comments remain and are allowed to stand as per the “moderators.”
Her latest offerings come as a collective invective against the crisis in the Gulf.
As I said, I’ve never been to Canada and I’ve known only a few Canadians in my life, and those were people living and working in the US. Very nice people. But it would be so easy for me to generalise about the rest, based on this foul-mouthed little madam’s screeds. I guess the first thing I want to know is why there seems to be a propensity of Canadians commenting almost exclusively on American news and information sites (term used loosely) and about matters almost exclusively American? Yes, we share a continent, but I see precious few Mexicans weighing in about political agendae in the United States and there seems to be more cutting issues applicable to Mexicans than Canadians … but that’s – dare I say it? – a generalisation.
I live in the UK. I read some of the blogging comments on The Guardian’s website and also on the BBC. When an American strays inadvertantly into “British” territory to comment on all matters British, they are politely told where to go.
This worries me, because it’s making me hate without reason. It’s closing my mind and making me intolerant. Is she genuinely nasty? Does she have self-esteem issues? (How I’d love to ask her that, or any other Canadian commentator offering up such venom-laced observations). Maybe, even though she lives on Vancouver Island, she’s never visited the United States, or maybe she has and is jealous. Maybe she can’t get a green card. Or maybe she’s just a vicious, vindictive, little bitch who gets pleasure from reminding people of their own inadequacies in order to mask her own.
Anyway, she’s putting me off visiting Canada, and she’s putting me off Canadians. Let me just generalise and say, who the hell wants to visit a place where they club baby seals to death?
Arrrrrggggggggghhhhhhhhhh! You see … if the public exist on generalisations and stereotypes, how easy it is for the dumbed-down, mundane media to feed that addiction?