6 Things Americans Do That Are Considered Creepy In Other Countries
For better or for worse (actually, definitely for worse), the United States' favorite pastime isn't baseball; it's judging other countries for not being the United States. But what about all the things Americans do that are considered creepy in other countries? Like all cultures, some American customs simply don't translate well, or they seem perfectly normal up until you think a little too hard about them and suddenly realize how weird they really are.
I’m not talking about the political system, although much could be said about the creep factors of certain toupeed, spray-tanned presidential candidates, or the well-documented friendliness that takes some visitors aback at first. Rather, today’s focus is on the aspects of American culture that don't even register as weird, right up until your cousin visits from Australia and is baffled by the light interrogation that accompanies every visit to a sandwich shop. (Sandwich artists are called artists for a reason, people.)
However, there are more than enough lists of odd American customs floating around on the Internet; let’s talk about the really weird ones. You know, the kind that will inevitably show up on a listicle of creepy historical traditions 60 years from now. You might think of them as normal now, but once their oddness is pointed out to you, there's no way to un-see it.
1. The Pledge Of Allegiance
Let's face it: The American Pledge of Allegiance is super creepy. Every morning, virtually all schoolchildren across the country stand up, face the national flag, and blindly chant their allegiance to the United States of America. Yikes.
2. Ads, Ads, Everywhere
No matter what country you inhabit, advertisements sneak their way into every facet of life, but American ads are especially pervasive. Television appears to be the worst culprit; several Reddit users in a thread devoted to weird American customs said they were taken aback by the sheer volume of commercials when they sat down to watch TV.
3. Restroom Privacy (Or Lack Thereof)
The United States spends so much time making fun of other countries' use of bidets, it seems fair that our restrooms would come under fire at some point. According to Thought Catalog, some non-Americans find the lack of privacy in American bathrooms to be disturbing — namely, the huge gaps between the door of a stall and its frame that are sometimes wide enough to see through.
4. Canned Laughter
Because canned laughter is such a sitcom staple in the United States, most Americans barely even register it by the time they reach adulthood. However, according to the Internet, using fake laughter to encourage real audiences to laugh just comes across as weird if you're not used to it. "I think you know when something's funny without having to be prompted to laugh," wrote Reddit user Chizfoley.
5. Roadside Attractions
This isn't to say that roadside attractions don't exist in other areas of the world, but in America, they're a thriving, delightfully weird business. Alongside mundane attractions like toilet seat art museums and restaurants where former Presidents once ate, however, the United States is home to some tourist traps that are decidedly... off. Just look at the 31-foot Paul Bunyan statue pictured above (one of many similar statues around the country, apparently), or check out the Museum of International Propaganda. To be honest, most Americans probably find all this a little creepy, too.
6. Thanksgiving Masking
It's no secret that Americans, myself most definitely included, get really into Halloween. Today, the holiday is known for blood, guts, and lingerie-based animal costumes — in short, things that have blown right past "spooky" and into "disturbing and more than a little gross" territory (aside from the lingerie costumes, of course; you do you).
Back in the late 19th century, however, Americans observed a tradition that would give modern-day Halloween celebrations a run for their money: Thanksgiving masking. According to the Huffington Post, early Thanksgiving parades eventually evolved into a custom in which people wandered the streets in outlandish costumes, sometimes cross-dressing and usually wearing masks. Sound familiar? The tradition is considered to be a (hella racist) precursor to trick-or-treating, but in my official opinion, it's approximately 1000 percent creepier than the contemporary incarnation — and it's all thanks to the masking aspect.
Also known as "dough faces," it was a popular custom for children to wear "hideous and terrifying false faces," as Appleton's Magazine described in 1909. Just look at them. Or, you know, don't, because it'll give you nightmares to last until this year's Thanksgiving.
Unlike the other American traditions on this list, Thanksgiving masking is long over with — which is probably for the best.
Images: Giphy (4)