Biggest Culture Shock: Americans in Movies vs Real

Biggest Culture Shock: Americans in Movies vs Real

The biggest culture shock that immigrants encounter in America.

I've often wondered about something:

Why is it that on TV and in movies, Americans are so open, friendly, sociable, communicative, and easily invite you into their cliques, taking you out for fun and introducing you to others? They act so warm, emotional, full of life and feeling, and are easy to talk to and get involved with. And in romance/drama films of old (less so nowadays) people were so passionate and full of feeling in their eyes and expression, as though they were fully aware and conscious.

But in real life, Americans are generally uptight, closed, cliquish, paranoid, anti-social outside their clique, difficult to meet, don't talk to you unless its business related, and basically ignore you and expect you to mind your own business while they mind theirs. People are in a bubble and there is an "ice barrier" between strangers. They seem like zombies/automatons who are totally unaware and oblivious to others around them, as though they were not fully conscious. They are always in a rush to get through their daily routine. They seem totally uninterested and unconcerned with human connection. And if you are not like that too, you stick out like a sore thumb, like you are in a sort of Twilight Zone - in a different reality from everyone else!

Why is there such a HUGE difference that no one talks about?! It's so bizarre, like the Twilight Zone!

My friend and cultural advisor, a former US immigrant who speaks 10, has been to over 30 countries, and is an expert in cultural analyses, made the same observation in my forum:

"I think generally, the biggest culture shock that people experience in the US is not between their country and the US but between what they thought the US would be and what it actually is. Books and movies about America make the place appear very free and exciting and happening and the people are so interesting and emotional. There is sex and fun and romance going on. When they arrive, the place looks very conservative and the people appear robotic and quiet. Sex is subdued and hard to come by. The people are not open at all, they look closed and mistrustful. Everybody is just working and looking tired and apathetic. Talking to strangers is taboo. There are thousands of little rules and laws and social mores that seem as dogmatic and strict as those in a Muslim society. And every time you are at risk of breaking yet another law and facing very dire consequences. That is the biggest culture shock of all."

This is so blatantly obvious, yet no one talks about it. To do so would make you look like a loser, so no one dares to. It's like an "Emperor's New Clothes" syndrome. Either that, or people don't see it due to the cognitive dissonance of their programming.

There is also an unspoken social law that says that anywhere you go, you MUST say that people are very friendly and wonderful, or you say nothing at all. Or you can blame yourself. But you are NOT allowed to say that people are anti-social. That is a big taboo and No-No.

For more taboo truths, insights and solutions visit