Why We Don’t Care: America’s Apathy to World Events Explained

You’ve all heard the “horror stories” about Americans being totally oblivious to events in other countries. A classic that comes to mind is Miss Teen South Carolina’s 2007 reference to “the Iraq” and the fact that “some people don’t have maps” as to why that is. Another would be the country questions from “Jaywalking on the Tonight Show” where Jay Leno asks a bunch of random people on the street questions about pop culture and foreign affairs and has whole segments of solely wrong answers. One Google search brings almost a billion results  (such as the image below) about how Americans only know stereotypes of other countries. We pay the Department of Education more than the 21 poorest African countries’ GDPs combined. How does this joke still exist?!

$70 billion education budget and this is still a thing. Source: alphadesigner.com

$70 billion education budget and this is still a thing. Source: alphadesigner.com

In my humble opinion, I will say this stems from the fact that, geographically, America is that weirdo who lives by himself in the boonies at the end of a dirt road. This is a rather bold statement about the leader of the free world. Allow me to explain why we are all geo-political hermits.

Let’s look at Africa and Europe. There, your country is wedged in with at least three or four neighbors. In an hour, you could drive from your town to the border, cross it, and be in an entirely different land with its own language and culture. Heck, you probably just fought a war with them, especially if you’re in the Middle East. Considering potential enemies are “just around the block”, you’ve got the political equivalent of gang wars in the hood, especially if you’re competing over resources or popular support, let alone cross-border ethnic or religious conflicts.

As for America, we haven’t fought wars against our neighbors in over 100+ years. In fact Wikipedia shows our Win/Loss record as 89/13/5 (good hustle everyone)! You can travel thousands of miles with absolutely no change in culture or language. In fact, you could conceivably never meet a foreigner, at least not in the sense of Europe or Africa. When you ask America about “foreign affairs” we say it’s that stuff that city slickers get into right before we go back to watching the Super Bowl. To the rest of the world, “foreign affairs” is the equivalent of your apartment neighbors stealing your cable and turning up the beats too loud.

So, America, this is a challenge. Now that we know that our big “front yard” is actively dumbing us down about the rest of the world, and that we essentially invented the cure to our own disease (the Internet), let’s get on that, huh?

Note: If you want some more information on this topic, this essay here does a fantastic job of looking at the subject in great detail.

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