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In America, Everything Is A Big Deal

Little Things Are A Big Deal (In America).

Since returning to the United States (we have been here 11 days at this point), I have come to the realization that in America, little things are a big deal.

This works for the positive and the negative side of things.

Positive Examples:

  • If a floor isn’t quite level when your house is built, it *could* be considered to be a little thing, but in America, your floor will end up being level, because you will make it into a big deal until it is fixed. This is not the case in all places in the world, but it is good that it will get corrected in America.  Unlevel floors can be a safety issue, and having level floors is just nice.
  • Every bathroom we’ve been in since returning to America has toilets that work, toilet seats, toilet paper, soap in the sink, paper towels or a hand dryer, and hot and cold water. In the big picture, these are small things, but they are very nice to be able to rely on.  Even the Wal-Mart bathrooms seem nice to me now.
  • People have the ability to get anything at any time.  Wal-Mart is open 24 hours and stocks products from every part of our planet.  That alone is amazing.


  • It feels like (even if it’s not true) that people have to have every little thing… but they have so much stuff, they often don’t even know what they have.  (This may be the case in many places, but it’s especially visible to me in America.)
  • If a child doesn’t get what they want in America (and most American children have a LOT already), many of them are instantly whining and in tears and fits. In many countries we were in during the past 2 years, children responded differently when they didn’t get what they wanted.
  • On the news, graphics fly in, announcers make things huge and scary, and the news is unnecessarily overdone at the expense and misfortune of others.  (I have so many examples of this from just 10 days of news snippets caught here and there, but the radio news was talking about 3 girls who were almost crushed in the shaft of a faulty elevator “There were terrifying screams from the girls in the 911 call they made.  Listen to this…”). Dramatic stories are made even more dramatized, unnecessarily and at the expense of others.
  • If something even the slightest bit abnormal happens (30 minute delay for a flight, power goes out for 30 seconds, phone stops working), it becomes a big issue that everyone around has to know about.

Someone suggested to me that this because Americans watch a lot of drama on TV, and they want their lives to feel equally dramatic, and so conversations become about 1-upmanship and drama.

When things don’t feel dramatic enough, stories about little things (even if they are truly little things) are designed to create drama for their listeners.  Also, it just seems that many people just want and expect every little thing to be “right”.

I think it is a good theory that people overdramatize small things because they want to be part of the drama.  (“You won’t believe what happened to me on my last flight.  We got delayed by 2 hours.” “Oh, I can top that…”)

Regardless of the reason, adjusting to (seemingly) nearly everything being a big deal has been a bit overwhelming.

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