50 Funny Memes To Sum Up What It’s Like To Live In The USA
Picture this: a massive nation filled with endless opportunities and freedom of speech where anything you can dream of is achievable. It’s the best country in the world! As long as you make hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, you aren’t a minority, you manage to avoid gun violence, and you never have to go to the hospital, you’re going to live a wonderful life there!
Global opinion on the United States might be split, but there’s one thing we can all agree on: we enjoy poking fun at the country. So whether you live in the land of liberty and bleed red, white and blue or you’re a curious spectator from another country, enjoy this list we’ve gathered of some of the best down-home ‘Merica memes on the internet from the American Memes Facebook page. Then if you’re interested in even more content about the good old USA, we’ve got the perfect Bored Panda piece for you to read next right here.
Whether you love it or hate it, the United States is hard to avoid. Being the third largest nation in the world based on landmass and population, the influence of the US reaches across the globe. Almost everyone knows who the president is at any given time (especially when they’re as outspoken as the last one was…), and millions of people who have never visited the country have an idea of the culture just from media exposure. Home to nearly 45 million immigrants, the US is also a cultural melting pot and a popular destination for international travel. It’s a global powerhouse in terms of the economy too, accounting for about one quarter of the world’s economic output.
And clearly, as the American Memes Facebook page shows, there is a global audience for making fun of the US. With over 550k followers, American Memes has uploaded over 600 photos sharing painfully true jokes about the United States. The topics of the memes cover anything ranging from health care to American sports, and sometimes they even include comparisons to other nations.
Part of the reason making fun of the United States is so easy is because of how much everyone knows about it. It’s a lot easier to make jokes about a loud and proud nation that's influence reaches the entire world than it is to make specific cultural jokes about smaller countries. But despite being an easy target, sometimes it feels like the US is just asking to be made fun of. Don’t get me wrong, I love certain things about it too. The city I grew up in is full of friendly people, and I’ve never had to pay to use a public restroom there. Also have you tried Tex-Mex? It’s incredible. But I can’t help but agree with some of the critiques people from around the world make about the US.
Of the many quirks of the US that people like to make fun of, one of the biggest is the culture of individualism. Americans tend to be taught that everyone is responsible for their own success and that they don't need to take care of or worry about anyone else. Contrary to nations like Sweden, where there is a cultural emphasis on equality and a lack of hierarchy, the US encourages individuals to boast and be proud of their accomplishments. Being "the best" is something to be proud of, and standing out is admired.
The American culture of individualism didn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing. In theory, it could motivate hard work and encourage everyone to do their best. But in reality, it creates a competitive culture where people tend to have little sympathy for others who are struggling. For example, some Americans look down on homeless people assuming they didn’t work hard enough to end up in their situation, and wealthy individuals aren’t typically concerned about the high health care rates because they have no problem paying their bills. The Pew Research Center even conducted a survey a few years ago to see just how individualistic Americans are. They found that 57% of Americans disagree that success in life is mostly determined by forces outside our control. To compare that to another powerful nation, only 31% of Germans thought the same. 73% of Americans also said that it is “very important to work hard to get ahead in life”.
Another interesting quirk about the US is how religious the nation is. Among the rest of the world, richer nations tend to be less religious, with fewer than 25% of the population saying religion plays a very important role in their lives in countries like Australia, Canada, Germany, France, Japan and Great Britain. However, in the United States, 54% of Americans consider religion to be very important. 53% of the US also said that “belief in God is a prerequisite for being moral and having good values”, compared to only 23% in Australia and 15% in France.
Americans also contradict the global trend on wealth of a nation compared to people’s positivity. The Pew Research Center explained that when interviewing participants for this survey, they asked everyone at the beginning how their day was going. They found that the participants most likely to say they were having a good day came from poorer nations like Nigeria, Colombia, Nicaragua and Kenya. Whereas less than 28% of participants from Germany, Spain, France and the UK had the same response. Meanwhile, 41% of Americans reported having a good day. Something about that individualistic culture really puts a smile on their faces I guess.
Something else the rest of the world loves to mock the US for is their health care system. Contrary to most other developed nations, the US does not have universal health care coverage or any uniform health system, and the rates for treatment tend to be much higher than in other comparable countries. In 2019, for example, the average American spent about $11,000 on health care, whereas the average Canadian spent only $5,418 and the average Brit spent $4,653. Dealing with complicated insurance policies varying widely between companies is another issue Americans have to face, but these high costs and hassles don’t even seem to be worth it. The US spends more money on healthcare than any other developed nation, but its health outcomes are not any better. For example, the US is on the lower end of life expectancy and safety during childbirth and the higher end of infant mortality rates and heart attack mortality compared to other wealthy nations. Why the system is this way is beyond me, but it certainly makes for good meme content.
Another aspect of American culture is the idea that “bigger is better”. This comes into play with elaborate displays of wealth like purchasing fancy cars and multi-million dollar mansions. But it also affects the way some Americans eat. According to Health Day, the standard American diet has increased by over 300 calories a day over the past 25 years. The US ranks twelfth in the world for obesity rates at the moment, with about 40% of the population being considered obese. There are many contributing factors to these rates including calorically-dense processed foods being less expensive than healthy foods, large portions of food, a culture that revolves around sitting in cars, and an overall lack of physical activity. And while the US isn’t the only nation in the world struggling with rising obesity rates, it certainly has become known for this issue.
And how could we discuss the United States without mentioning the elephant in the room: guns. While the topic of guns is extremely controversial and sensitive, it is worth mentioning because the gun ownership rates in the US are certainly unique to the country. For every 100 residents in America, there are over 120 guns. Yemen, the nation with the second highest gun ownership rates, doesn’t even come close, with only 52 firearms per 100 people. And after Yemen, no countries have over 40 guns per 100 residents. Sadly, the US also has to deal with the issues of mass shootings and school shootings more than any other nation, due to their lax gun control policies. These tragedies are certainly not a joking matter, but they are an unfortunate, unique facet of American culture.
The American education system is yet another topic other countries tend to harp on. Americans are notorious for not being able to speak any other languages and for being comically bad at geography (even their own nation’s geography). For example, a 2019 survey testing Americans on geography, foreign policy and world demographics found that less than half of the participants could “identify Afghanistan as the country that provided al-Qaeda with safe haven prior to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, despite America having waged a war in Afghanistan due to this fact for nearly two decades”. And slightly over half of the respondents could locate Iraq on a map, even though 100k American soldiers were stationed there fifteen years ago. Less than 30% said they learned about foreign policy in school, and most of them could only answer about half of the questions correctly. Schools are lacking funding, and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to find passionate and effective teachers because educators are often overworked and underpaid.
Even though we all like to make fun of the US, there are certain achievements that the rest of the world can acknowledge. The Pew Research Center conducted a survey in the fall of 2021 to see how 17 other nations perceived the US, and the results weren’t all negative. Most respondents considered American technological achievements, entertainment, military and universities to be above average or the best in the world. American entertainment is particularly embraced by young people around the globe, with over 75% of respondents between the ages of 18-29 considering movies, music and television coming out of the US to be some of the best in the world. The majority of participants also said that they think the US government protects Americans’ personal freedoms and rated President Biden’s international policies positively.
Every nation has its pros and cons, but as a country that tends to boast that it's the "best in the world", the United States deserves to be the butt of a few jokes. These memes are all in good fun, and we recognize that the US is a massive country full of a wide variety of individuals. Enjoy the rest of these pics, and don't forget to upvote all of your favorites. Then let us know in the comments what you think the best and worst parts of American culture are, whether you live in the US or you're an observer from the outside!