40 Things Only Americans Think Are Normal
The United States has plenty of pros and cons, just like any other country. However, you can’t deny America tends to have more of each and some of them are turned all the way up to 11 on the weirdness scale. Like having the police patrol your school, writing the date in a weird way (let’s not even talk about the Imperial measurement system), and having full-on smear ads against political opponents.
Welcome to the Wonderland that is the USA. And what better way to learn about the bizarre things that Americans think are completely normal than by asking non-Americans for their opinions? That’s exactly what one Reddit user (who told Bored Panda that they wish to remain anonymous because of all the attention they're getting) did in a viral thread that got more than 50.9k upvotes and over a whopping 38.9k comments. Scroll down, have a read, check out our in-depth interview with the original poster, and upvote the weird things that happen in the US that left an impact on you, dear Pandas.
Talking about their freedom as if they're the only country in the world who has it...
Gratuitous violence in entertainment is normal. But show one boob and people lose their s**t.
The redditor who posted the thread in the first place told us that they usually don’t hang out in the crowded default subreddits. “Either the thread gets too big for a conversation or it goes unnoticed in a sea of similar topics. In hindsight, it's not strange it got so much attention, Reddit is very diverse but a US-centric view is still dominant, and everyone wants to weigh in. Lots of people just wanted to vent, some had a strong political opinion, and some just wanted to ridicule the US.”
According to the Reddit user, they made the thread “on a whim” after they saw a comment by a redditor who was surprised to learn that not everyone has police officers at school.
“I did hope that starting this topic would end up in a couple of people sharing that kind of information among each other, because the US is going through some [crap], and it helps your morale to know that alternatives do exist.”
They continued: “Some people took it as a competition of which country is better, but it was intended without any kind of nationalist feelings, more with an idea of people defining things among themselves vs. how things are shown to be in schools and TV shows, in and outside the US.”
When you are 18 years old, you can be shipped to a foreign country to kill humans, but you are not allowed to drink alcohol.
Ambulance rides costing money seems pretty absurd to people from other countries
Paying people less than minimum wage. How is it a minimum if it's legal to pay less than that?
One thing that the redditor did expect to see in the thread but was surprised to hear so many voices speaking against it was the “circumcision of infant males for non-medical, non-religious reasons but rather as a default procedure.” The redditor added: “Parents who decide against circumcising their newborn child but don't know how it works and what to teach their kid: there's a WikiHow!”
The thread shone a light on a lot of problems in the United States and suggested that these things need to change. “The things that got repeated most in the thread were division of ethnic groups, gun culture, military drafting and continuous warfare, cop culture, nutrition issues, corporate lobbying... and wearing shoes in the house,” the OP explained.
Wondering if you're sick enough to call that ambulance or if you should just risk ubering it.
Medical bankruptcy after you're charged $200,000 for a week long hospital stay and now you're homeless.
Being mentally ill and getting hospitalized by others for your own safety, but then getting a massive bill for it that you cant pay (which will totally help the suicidality right?)
Choosing between food and medicine.
Deciding that it's less expensive to just go into palliative care and die instead of fighting a disease like cancer.
As you can see I really hate the american medical care system.
Turning scientific information into a political discussion.
“It's not as if all those comments came from non-US redditors, a lot of the criticism was from US citizens with genuine concern and investment in their future and their surroundings. Combine that with getting active and finding each other, just as widespread protests are helping to create a framework of solidarity, I think change is already happening if you just keep at it,” they said.
“I saw a lot of people from outside the US who feel racism or racist police brutality are a typical US thing. It sure looks like there's a structural issue, but please don't use the US as a way to shift blame because ‘they're worse,’ to get out of examining the same structural issues in your own locality,” the redditor added.
Having only two parties: Republicans and Democrats. I know there are some smaller parties, but the system is stacked against them.
While the US thinks a lot of weird things are normal, the one that isn’t giving us any peace and quiet is that Americans write the date as mm/dd/yyyy. So, why exactly do Americans write the date by putting the month before the day?
Of course, it seems completely logical to somebody who’s grown up with this system and uses it every single day of their lives. Nothing could be more natural, in their opinion. But from an outsider’s perspective, it looks downright weird and illogical. And the US is the only country in the world that does things this way.
There are several theories about this. One of them is that in certain cases, it’s more convenient to know the month first rather than the day. For instance, when somebody asks you when your birthday is, it’s more useful to know the month first to get your bearings right before zoning in on the exact day.
Not putting the final price on the tag. I'm not sure whether it's still like this, but a few years ago one never knew whether the $1.00 item in McDonald's or Burger King is actually $1.00 or maybe $1.08.
Another theory is that American colonists inherited the monthly date format from the British Empire. In time, the British moved over to the European style where you put the day first, then the month, then the year. While Americans stuck with the old-school format.
Oh, and in case you’re wondering, the International Organization for Standardization claims that putting the year first, then the month, then the day is the internationally accepted way to represent the date. To make things even more confusing, the US military uses the dd/mm/yyyy format for correspondence but it switches to the mm/dd/yyyy format when corresponding with civilians. Does that sound like a lot of info to take in? You bet! And that’s just one of the weird things that Americans think are normal.
The plot of Breaking Bad being about a science teacher getting cancer and worrying about leaving his family with massive medical debt when he dies.
My maternity leave was an unpaid 6 weeks, and I had to fight them on not shorting me because I went past my due date and didn’t keep working until the day I went into labor.
American flags everywhere. I traveled throughout Europe and the Caribbean and I usually only saw their flag on government builds and here and there. Where as here in the USA the flag is like Franks Red Hot. We put that s**t on everything. Magnets, churches, cars, condoms, every front porch, and street lamp. #murica
Identifying as your heritage instead of your nationality. Americans will say that they’re Italian, German, polish, etc. when they don’t speak the language and have no real connection to those countries anymore.
In other parts of the world people just identify with the country they were born in or have lived in for a significant amount of time regardless of their ancestry.
Had some American colleagues in Norway asking us how we celebrate 4th July
Big glasses of water WITH ICE at restaurants. I live in Texas usually and I drink ice water like 24/7. It’s a good habit here, especially in Summer. When I was in Europe I would get the smallest glasses of luke warm water that I had to ask for more every ten seconds. I felt annoying! Aren’t y’all thirsty?! Or am I missing something?
Toilet cubicles, where people not only can peek, but an adult person could crawl into your cubicle, there is so much space under the "door".
Willingly putting yourself massively in debt for a college degree.
I come from a place with free university education (which has its own drawbacks of course), and the fact that you can make such a huge, life-altering decision at 17 is considered normal over there, that seems downright bizarre to me.
The enabling customer service culture.
It’s created excessive portions in restaurants, created Karen, gives way to a disposable attitude towards products, and generally gives a sense of entitlement where most people start adding it to their list of rights.
When I was there during the last election I was shocked at how phrases like ‘well they have the black vote’ or the ‘Latino vote’ came up all the time on the radio. Obviously it’s not racist but it’s just something that would never come up in my country. Like, why would latino people all vote for the same person?
Actively avoiding healthcare visits/checkups because if there's something wrong and you don't have the money to pay for treatment, then you'd rather just not know
This one is more on the positive side, because I think we could learn some from it.
Talking and sharing your life with complete strangers. I have met quite a few americans so it seems the norm that you share and engage with strangers in public. The bus, train, parks etc. And then you go on your way.
In Denmark you'd be a "freak" if you did that.
Asking everyone “what do you do?” when you first meet them. I live outside the US and realized there are some people I’ve known for years and I still don’t know their job. I think in the US jobs are a bigger part of a person’s identity than in some other places.
The one that always shocks me (I’ve an L1B so I spent quite a bit of time in the last couple of years living & working in the USA - although back home in U.K. right now) is the whole ‘thank you for your service’ military thing. The military is treated like some sort of god level being. It first struck me at Seaworld when they would make all service personnel stand up. In the U.K. the military guys (a) wouldn’t do it and (b) would be embarassed. In most cases they would be actively told not to do it so they don’t get identified - the fear the IRA stoked still runs deep in the processes in the military of the U.K.
Side effects on medication adverts.
Friggin hilarious to us Brits.
With James' Hayfever meds, I can get through the day with ease!
Side effects may include:
Loss of sight
Loss of hearing
Loss of sense of smell
Loss of consciousness
American Corporations have convinced us our work culture is totally normal.
Attack ads against political opponents, ads for law firms or lawyers. These kinds of ads are illegal and considered unethical in our country. Also expecting a teenager to be out of the house by the time they're 18. I live in Southeast Asia. There's no stigma about living with one's parents. Most of the time, there will be three generations living in one house.
not owning kettles and MICROWAVING their water for coffee/tea
Having second mortgages on a house. Taking massive loans they can't possibly pay off and buying stuff with it that decreases in value over time such as cars.
Extra large bottomless cups for cola or soft drinks.... you could bathe in those....
being able to vote before reaching the legal drinking age
A flag in every corner of a classroom, and Americans being very patriotic to the stars and stripes. Other countries barely give a poop about their flags
Note: this post originally had 73 images. It’s been shortened to the top 40 images based on user votes.