Dec 14, 2007

The Argentine Syndrome

Syndrome is defined in the dictionary as: "particular group of symptoms that appear together and characterize a particular disease or disorder (Medicine)". For those who don't speak Spanish, the title that you can see at the top is from a very respected Argentine newspaper (La Nacion) and literally reads: "A survey done in the Capital city reveals that 44% of pacients do not know what type of psychotherapy are receiving".

At first I couldn't believe my eyes, but then I thought "that is SO us, such an Argentine way of seeing things".

For those who have no idea what I am talking about, this is how I think it works.

Argentines (generalizing, of course) are seen by the rest of Latin Americans as arrogant people. With some reasons, let me tell you. The problem is that we are always comparing ourselves with everyone in everything and we do have an inferiority complex. So, when we travel from Latin America and we find that Buenos Aires has in fact a more European look and feel than most of the rest of the cities in the South American continent, we can't help it but gloat. For just a minute or so, we see the glass half full. Just for a minute.

Now, most of the time we compare ourselves with Europe and the US and we just can't stop ourselves of just seeing all that we HAVE NOT. Always the glass half empty. What makes us natural born complainers. Nothing is EVER good enough for us, because we may find that we have something better in Argentina than in Spain but... what we have is not as good as it is in England. Or in the US. Or vice versa.

There lies the root of the problem. We use the WHOLE world to compare us with, so, of course, we are never good enough at anything.

And when the whole world is not enough, we compare ourselves with ... an ideal world. If 44% do not know what type of psychotherapy they are taking that means that 56% DO. What here in the US (where they tend to be the other way around and always see the glass half full) would have been a motive to gloat...

In marketing/advertising we know that to sell something to someone, the image of the product and what the users of that product say about it are very important to its success.

I truly believe that half of the success of the USA is based on its internal marketing. They BELIEVE they are better and nicer and bigger than the rest of the world even when sometimes is not so true, just a good spin of some facts. They can sell the American Dream, because they bought it first. They BELIEVE that living here is the best that can happen to anyone.

I can use the Argentine Syndrome and compare the USA with the rest of the world and find 10000 reasons why that is not entirely true. Canada has less violence. Europe works less hours and has (in average) better health and education access. Latin America, has better family ties and less depression. But it wouldn't matter. Because here in the US, they will always look to what they have that is better than the rest, and they would talk about and sell an image to the world.

They tend to see the glass half full.
We tend to see the glass half empty.

PS: If you are from Argentina and want to see the glass half full, take a peek to what International Living says about living in Argentina or what the NYT says about visiting Argentina.

PS2: Of course this is a generalization. Not ALL Argentines are like that, nor all (north)Americans, I am talking mainstream population.

PS3: See comments. My original said 44 and 66, was fixed, was a horrible typo...!

1 comment:

Robert said...

44% + 66% = good math
either that or in Argentina, it takes 1.1 people to equal 1 non-Argentine person. Not very good self-esteem :)