I am back in the States this week, after two years in Spain. Unfortunately, due to the kids’ school and the ridiculous costs of airfare, it’s just me. But I’ve got some great opportunities to share about G42, initiation, and leadership, and what my family has been doing in the community of Mijas Pueblo, Spain.

I have to admit I have been out of the loop on most of the news affecting the U.S., so mostly I get my information from sound bites and headlines. Maybe it’s a factor of the media blowing things out of proportion, but the feeling I get is that America is becoming a caricature of itself.

When the world sees America through the lens of our media, they either see nationalist gun toters, a entitled generation, and a celebrity- and consumer-centered culture…. Is that stereotype becoming reality?

America - the caricaturePhoto Credit: Kevin McShane

The Entitled Generation

Give Occupy your money?I know times are tough. And I realize that every day our ministry is made possible by friends and family who sacrifice to support us in some way.

There are good people out there who are struggling to find work, yet there are people who receive yearly bonuses larger than I will ever make in a lifetime of working.

But it is the people who expect to live off of other people’s hard work that disgusts me. The ones who would rather protest and shout and get interviewed on TV instead of working from the bottom up, or making something for themselves or running for public office…. to say they frustrate me would be an understatement.

The “Patriots”

Man carrying a gun and beer while with his Barbie girlfriendThere are extremes on all sides. This photo is funny but sad… and it depicts how many Europeans view Americans.

The problem is that these people exist. And they are just as damaging for U.S. opinion as the Entitled Generation.

The Celebrity

This is probably what turns me off the most about news from America… it’s the false status we’ve given to actors and “beautiful” people who have basically thrust themselves into the news. And we eat it up. It drives how we act, dress, talk… it fills our airwaves with news of the latest wedding, divorce, or scandal.

But it’s not real life. Far from it. And focusing on it only makes us more disillusioned with our own “normal” lives.

The Consumer

So. Much. Stuff.

I have to admit that one thing I am doing while in America is stocking up on things we can’t get (or can’t get cheaply) in Spain. Everything from deodorant to electric toothbrushes, macaroni and cheese to ranch dressing, used iPods to Home Depot sanding pads.

But what strikes me, and always has, is the culture of accumulation. A new smartphone or SUV comes out, and we have to upgrade. The marketing and advertising machine in the states has made us into mindless consumers.

But it’s Home

Enough of my rant about my culture shock. I love America. Absolutely. And it’s because I love it, that I don’t want to see it become some polarized, surface-level society that is driven by media and marketing.

What do you think? Is it just the fact I’ve been out of the country too long? Am I way off base?

  • Ms. Patti

    You are not off base!  Enjoy your time here!  Wish we could see you!
    Love the Hearn family! xo

  • Anonymous

    I would add its not just America! I think the states leads the way, but speaking as a UK resident the consumer and celebrity status is prevalent in all western culture.

    As a school teacher i have just delivered a couple of lessons to teenagers, helping them to think about ‘what influences me’. Its really concerning and immoral  all the consumer advertising that is bombarded at young people. Also the complete glut of reality shows means that a lot of kids just want to be famous for fame’s sake.

    …However, like you Dave, i am exceptionally gratefull that i have been raised in a ‘free’ and relatively safe culture…….its just so important that we dont just ‘swim along wih the tide’

    Enjoy your time in the States

  • America is really messed up right now…

  • Thanks Ben… you’re right, UK is just as bad in many ways… 

    And funny you should mention it.. I was thinking of mentioning “reality” shows like Jersey Shore (or Geordie Shore in the UK) that are so ridiculous and out of touch with the real world… we begin to think of that type of culture as normal and acceptable–It’s just not.

    We must keep teaching/discipling/mentoring what is most important in life.