Recently I posted on Yik Yak, an app in which you anonymously post something similar to a tweet, and people can up-vote it if they like it or down-vote it to vote it off. It is all based on location and you can set your “home base” to one location and yak on it no matter where you are in the world. Yik Yak is mostly funny and relatable, but sometimes people cross the line.
My Yik Yak home base is Swansea and recently I posted “My American parents cannot understand the concept of Wind St. I should never have tried to explain.” Now, Wind St. is basically a street full of clubs in bars that livens up at night and is crowded with drunk students and young adults, partying the night away. Sorry to post about you on social media, mom and dad, but I only did it because I can’t explain Wind St. without it sounding like a really stupid and somewhat dangerous street, in which it’s (mostly) not. I didn’t really do it justice and so I thought it would be humorous to post about.
And so I did, and this is what happened:
Here’s my problem with it. It’s all fun and games until you actually offend someone. I get this shit all of the time and I’ve realised that this is probably the first idea that people have of me: fat, racist, and gun obsessed. Sure, America has fat, racist, and gun obsessed people, but when does a stereotype become an actual belief? You cannot generalise an entire nation based on one or a few stereotypes. This is an extension of my “You Guys Bomb Everything” post that I wrote a few weeks ago. It’s more negative comments from strangers just from the mention of America. It’s not necessarily anyones fault, it’s just what people are taught to believe from the news and the media. The thing is, America has the same problem. This correlates with more deeper issues such as assuming every Muslim is a terrorist, every black person is a thug, or that Mexico is dangerous and full of drug dealers, when in truth, it’s not like that. Before I went to Europe, I was told that it’s dirty and full of pedophiles. I could also simply say that all southerners are racist, or even that all Californians are vegan. It’s just not true nor is it fair. I could have thrown back some stereotypes about the UK, like that all they eat are chips and they’re all atheists, but that would just be throwing fire on fire. I’d be doing exactly what they did. So instead I sarcastically responded back. I wasn’t about to start a serious debate over Yik Yak.
I know America has done some shitty things, especially in recent events. Regarding the police brutality comment, it’s important that we talk about it, but I don’t know if that was the most appropriate way to bring it up. We aren’t the best nation. America is problematic. We can be ignorant, some of us are indeed bad at geography, and we can be self-centred. We can work on these issues in America, but they can’t be treated lightly. It’s important to be educated, but maybe we shouldn’t get all of our information from one source or stereotype that could easily be biased. This is another reason why traveling is important. Go out and gain your own perspective and beliefs before you assume anything.
I’m taking all of this personally and maybe I shouldn’t. Whether they meant it jokingly or not, I don’t find it very funny, rather just frustrating. In a way I feel more of an outsider; more like I keep having to explain myself and explain my country with everyone I meet. On a positive note, this gives me an opportunity to gain perspective and write a blog post like this, but it’s overwhelming. Pride and prejudice is an endless struggle in both the UK and the US (do I sense a second novel coming on?).