While there's a lot to love about my new best friend, TikTok... there's also stuff that manages to piss me off. Last night it was somebody (assumably British) who hit with a video where they're saying "IF YOU ARE AN AMERICA, NAME FIVE COUNTRIES THAT ARE NOT AMERICA!"
Now, I get the assumption here. Americans are self-centered, don't know much about the world outside our borders, and it's easy to think that we're all morons who can't name five countries outside of our own.
Usually I would just keep scrolling, but in this case I think the assumption of ignorance is misplaced. Partly because "five countries" is such a low bar (we're attached to two of them), and second of all because the person attempting to shame Americans is not doing it to enlighten us, but to laugh at our circumstance. As if some rural, small-town American who hasn't managed to get a good education and whose finances don't allow a life outside the town where they will grow-up, live, work, and die, somehow deserves to be belittled in this way.
Well they don't.
And a lot of us are likely aware of more countries than you'd think which is entirely independent of our education (or lack thereof).
First of all, not all of us are poorly-traveled. If I were asked to name five countries, can it be five of the fifty-plus countries I've visited in person, or does it have to be from those I haven't visited yet?
And I know fellow Americans who are more well-traveled than I am.
I know fellow Americans who have spent their lives volunteering in foreign countries.
I know fellow Americans who have sons and daughters, moms and dads who have died in foreign countries and am fairly certain they can name them.
I know fellow Americans who have friends and families who immigrated from foreign lands, which is fairly common in a land of immigrants.
I know fellow Americans who have raised money for relief in foreign countries.
I know fellow Americans who have adopted children from foreign countries.
I know fellow Americans who have served in foreign countries.
I know fellow Americans who had their service rerouted to administer foreign aid of countries struggling from disaster.
I know fellow Americans who can name foreign countries for a variety of reasons, and it in no way makes them better or worse as people. It's just something they may or may not know.
And if they don't know five countries? Quite possibly it's because the entirety of The United States of America (9,833,000 km²) is only a little smaller than Europe (10,180,000 km²), so Europeans knowing the countries their country borders is more similar to Americans knowing which states border their state...
I'm the last person who will say that Americans are the most educated or globally aware people on earth. Far from it. And while there are some Americans who should know better... starting with our politicians who are making decisions that affect the world yet can't find their own ass with a map... painting all of us with the same brush is kinda ridiculous.
But the world seems to have a lot of that going around lately, so no offense taken, I guess.