Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Bad OS Tourists

Image by via Flickr
In my recent article How to Properly Review an Operating System, I think I coined the term "Bad OS Tourists." What that means may depend on how old you are. In my father's day, there was a stereotype of the Ugly Brit. During my early life, it became the Ugly American. Affluent Americans wandered through the world like a bull in a china shop, not really understanding or caring about the culture. They offended the local populace. They went to visit a foreign country but spent the time complaining about the food (while simultaneously not eating any of it) and deriding the natural differences. More recently, the Americans became the Japanese, Chinese, and Koreans. (Koreans typically take enough Korean ramen with them for every meal of their trip.) Honestly, Americans never got out of the dog house, and they generally deserve to be there, but the Canadians seem to get a free pass. Anyway, the newly affluent economies seem to fill this niche in the world scene.

What's all this Ugly Americanism about? Bad tourism doesn't just happen in the world of tour groups. You can be a bad OS tourist, too.

Who qualifies as an bad OS tourist? The answer is that it can be anyone, but users suffer many of the base problems that Americans do when visiting other cultures: they're untraveled and have never left their home; their media talks only about their home; they don't understand basic geography; and they are surrounded with praises in the form of nationalism. As a result, they've come to the natural conclusion that everything is and should be just like their home, the greatest place of all.

Instead of complaining about the food and the plumbing, though, bad OS tourist complain about installing applications, configuring system services, or
file management mechanics.

Gadling lists ten ways to get labeled an "ugly American."

  1. Responding to someone who doesn't understand English by repeating yourself word for word in a much louder voice.
  2. Constantly comparing a country's government or infrastructure to the US.
  3. Talking too loudly.
  4. Seeking out other ugly Americans to hang out with for the duration of your trip.
  5. Wearing any sort of over-the-top patriotic apparel.
  6. Not interacting with local people unless you want something from them.
  7. Acting like you can score.
  8. Not caring that you are totally unaware of the political or social situation in a country.
  9. Constantly breaking norms and customs.
  10. Protesting any wrongdoing by saying "I'm an American."
Bad tourists scream at locals over issues that aren't their fault, walk roughshod all over traditions, and generally act as if the target culture should be lucky to have the tourist visit at all. In return, they are scorned, mocked (though generally not to their faces), and left to fend for themselves. If there are enough bad tourists in the area, they will create a feeling of ill will toward the entire nationality and a stereotype may even form.

My ten ways to become an "Ugly __(OS)__an."
  1. Responding to someone who is trying to help you understand why things don't work the way you expect by repeating the same problem over and over in a progressively harsher tone.
  2. Constantly comparing the new OS to your old one. "But we didn't do it that way on ($OS)."
  3. Being obnoxious and petty.
  4. Spending all your time trying to make the new OS look and act like the old one.
  5. Proudly declaring how much better the old OS is than the new one.
  6. Acting like volunteers need to kiss your feet just for making the switch.
  7. Acting like you are something special just because you used to be 1337 on the old OS.
  8. Not caring that you are totally unaware of the available tools of the new OS.
  9. Constantly breaking forum rules.
  10. Protesting any wrongdoing by saying "I'll just go back to ($OS)."

What do good tourists do? They buy a guidebook before they leave home. They read about the place they're visiting. They suspend judgement. Most importantly, they try to keep an open mind, understanding and respecting the traditions of the new culture, at least as much as is possible in a tourist. They realize that they are traveling to learn about a new culture and they don't blame the target culture for being different. After all, isn't the difference why the tourist is traveling in the first place?

How are good tourists treated by the populace? Respect is answered with respect. Minor infractions of cultural taboos are generally overlooked or dismissed on account of ignorance. Locals are helpful and go out of their way to guide the tourist when he's lost.

Tips for being a good OS tourist:
  • Bother to read a bit about the OS before you try it out in order to understand the philosophy, traditions and history of the OS.
  • Go in with an open mind.
  • Accept your ignorance.
  • Avoid OSism and don't incessantly compare the new OS to your old one.
  • If you need help, ask respectfully and realize that miscommunication will naturally occur.
  • Listen twice as much as you talk.
This advice applies to residents of all OSes equally.


Post a Comment

Other I' Been to Ubuntu Stories