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Why Americans Abroad Are So Loud and Obnoxious

14/05/2013 10:38 BST | Updated 13/07/2013 10:12 BST

Admittedly, my fellow brethren embarrass me when abroad. I can hear them a mile away: "Oh my God! I can't believe it!"

"Wow man, that's so awesome!"

"That's so weird! We never have that!"

Hear the exclamation marks come stomping in, the dominance of that accent and the stream of American stereotypes rush through your head. Especially in a setting where you are seated or essentially stuck, near some Americans, their behaviour appears to intentionally want to mentally assault everyone around them: the fuss and hyper-enthusiasm over what seems like nothing, the conversations that seem like public announcements and are sometimes more detailed than need be and that attitude of superiority, like we own this place or mine is better than yours. The worst part? They want everyone around them to know about it. This behaviour that typifies Americans abroad is usually described by others as loud and obnoxious.

You may wonder "Are these Americans themselves aware of their behaviour?" I think that is the problem. Awareness of how personal actions impact others seems to be a weak point for Americans in general. This translates to the perceived ignorant persona Americans abroad present. We come from a cocoon where we are made to feel that the world revolves around us and although we pride ourselves in being a "melting pot" of cultures, identities and backgrounds, we are not very knowledgeable about the plights and issues (or even existence) of other nations unless they fall under the American radar. But then when we go abroad, we appear to act like we know everything and appear to want everyone around us to know that too.

So where does this behaviour come from? Identifying the valued personality traits in American culture gives a clue as to why the perceived loud and obnoxious behaviour manifests in Americans abroad. For one, American culture emphasises the individual, and that connotes the uniqueness of each person. Because each person is unique, they have unique opinions and thoughts. So in order to have such unique interests represented, speaking your mind and speaking up are very important. But since there are too many unique individuals clamouring to express their opinions and thoughts all at once, this is where being heard is a crucial factor in having your (unique) interests noticed and given the attention it deserves. And what sets apart attended interests from unattended interests is the level of confidence that is exhibited, which most of the time takes the form of loudness, aggressiveness, arrogance and even outright crazy. Good examples include many American politicians who seem to live at the major media networks and make their regular appearances on these network programmes.

With all this outward expressiveness, it sounds like an outright war just to be heard. The implications of this though mean that silence, humility and introverted traits are considered weak and undesirable in American culture. Those Americans who embody such traits end up just spectating and are made to feel like the minority, in a negative sense. Awareness of others takes a backseat because it's all about you! You need to get what you want because there's only one of you! This kind of extraversion seems to be the way forward-- In order to be noticed, standing out is a good thing; in order to get the things you want from people, being outgoing and friendly are the best traits. The more or the higher or the bigger, that's considered better. But most noteworthy, it doesn't matter if that kind of standing out is insensible and harms others, it doesn't matter if the outgoing personality and friendliness oozes fake and insincere and it doesn't matter what was said, even if it was something that was flung from your ass. All that matters is that it was said and you were heard.

It's interesting to note that when non-Americans visit America, many have remarked how friendly Americans are. But the loud and obnoxious description is labelled onto many Americans that go abroad. It seems that the sudden change in perception toward Americans could be because when abroad, the ones who hold steadfast to the valued American extraversion are no longer in their niche and will do what they do best to be heard: dominate. Abroad, just as in America, it's the loud and obnoxious ones who are the most noticed. It's just unfortunate that in America, these traits are the ones that are given more consideration.