18 February 2014

Thinking About Sochi Problems

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I was amused by the things athletes and attendees were putting online about how things are in Sochi, Russia, where the Olympics are going on. Then people started sharing this article entitled "#SochiProblems Is More of An Embarassment for America Than It Is for Russia," and I kept thinking about if I was wrong to be amused, especially since the sign saying not to flush toilet paper reminded me of China and made me laugh as well. After all, in the two countries I've lived in outside of the the U.S., I've blogged about things that interested me that were different. And I started thinking that it's very natural for us to notice things that are different from what we're used to and to want to share them with people we know who aren't there with us, especially when they puzzle us or amuse us. And then I turned the tables and thought about how I'd feel if someone posted about things they found curious in America. I liked to think that I would have been fine with it. Thus, when someone posted a sarcastic/witty/hilarious article of tips for Japanese tourists in the U.S., I was happy to read it and realize that I thought it was funny, too.

Finally I concluded that maybe the real problem is when we look down on a culture because of these differences, which I have been known to do in China though I'd like to think I'm mostly good at just being amused. So maybe, if the hashtag had been "#SochiAmusements" or "#ThisIsSochi" instead, it wouldn't have been viewed as so disrespectful by Sarah Kaufman and others.

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