American culture

As a US citizen, but having been brought up in Australia, I mostly identify myself as an Australian. Growing up I was always ‘into’ American culture – things like American candy, comic books, movies, etc – while still appreciating Australian culture. I was pretty surprised when I moved here to discover what a culture shock it was for me. I guess I thought given my exposure to American people and customs it would be a smooth transition. However instead I make many faux pas at social events (Americans are far more ‘hands off’ than Australians, let alone Europeans), can’t understand their version of football, and have a very divergent general sense of humour.

Even after 18 months here there are aspects of their culture that still surprise me. I found this article on Wikipedia today on the “Social Register“, through The Straight Dope. Absolutely fascinating that such a list exists – although to be horribly stereotypical, Americans seem to love being a part of a club of some kind (fraternities, etc, are unknown in Australia). I’m just amazed at the things you don’t normally hear about overseas (and yet the rest of the world calls the US insular).

Specific to the United States, the Social Register is a directory of names and addresses of prominent American families who form the social elite, though until recently not necessarily the political or corporate elite. Inclusion in the Social Register was formerly a guide to the members of “polite society” (or those with “old money”) in the “Social Register cities”: Boston, Buffalo, Cleveland, New York, Kansas City, Philadelphia, St. Louis, and San Francisco.

The Social Register lists the educational backgrounds, maiden names, and club affiliations of listed persons. Juniors can be listed with their parents beginning at birth (a recent change from the age of 13). It is sometimes called, humorously, a “stud book.”

Wikipedia is such a time sink.