Every time I see someone from the US coming to Russia to find that locals are anti-US, I can't help but cover my face with the palm of my hand. "So, uhm, I talked to, like, people, you know, and many seem, like, negative towards my homecountry". It's like they're specifically looking for this kind of people, never bothering to check the other side - or, if they do, they always happen to come to the extreme leftists or extreme rightists.
I hope to make this clear for every person in the US who's reading this:
Not every Russian person is anti-US.
I'd like to say something like "Russia is not anti-US", but I'd lie if I do. Russian news are chock-full of the subtle accusations of the US being our new sole enemy, along with the European Union... It's childish, but there are so many people around who don't think on their own - my parents included - that it works on them.
However, there are plenty of people who not only don't hate the US, and there are plenty of those who dream of visiting it someday. They're mostly young - 25 years of age or less. My guess for the reasons would be that they grew up on the glorified image of the US propagated by the movies, the TV shows and ever cartoons. I can't tell you whether it's a good thing, but I must admit that the way the US cinematographic mechanism works, it's impressive how the country's been able to tell the world about itself without uttering a word.
Tourists, in general, get an experience from Russia that's very different from my own, and it bothers me somewhat. Granted, Russian culture is different from the US' (though not very much: there are things that're more common than either of the countries would be willing to admit), but the nutcase ideas some tourists get (and propagate through their blogs, for the whole Internet to see) can't stop worrying me. If this is how people see the country I grew up in... Well, shit. Imagine France only being known for the dirty streets of Paris and the French being unstoppable loving machines. Would you want to visit that country?
A particular offender in this mad observation contest is Tim Urban, of Wait But Why's fame: his article on Russia (he visited Moscow and Krasnoyarsk, as well as the Tuva Republic - so he got from the boiling pot, to a somewhat stable big city, to a fringe region of Russia which still contains very different culture from the most of the country) is filled with the superfluous, thoughtless perception of solely the odd and the unusual.
It feels like his dumb chase for the view got the better of him, because in the article, he merely lays out how weird the country was for his taste, without seemingly giving it a single line of thought or asking for an explanation. This kind of condescendence is given when you see someone so strange to you that you don't even try to understand what's going on, get your ego up high and smile smugly over whatever's going on. "Well, this guy got some shit in his head, heh... I'm just gonna stop trying to make sense of it, because it's obviously impossible for me to understand what other human fucking beings may possibly think.".
Poor work, TIm. After all the thoughtful things you've put down on the website, this looks like a load of bullshit, for other smug assholes to enjoy...
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I guess you can see how this topic gets my blood boiling. It's one of the reasons I started #russiabynatives: to tell others the Russia they'd never see otherwise, given how disinterested they already are. I can't blame them: if that's the kind of material you learn a country by, you are going to get to such conclusions. At the same time, I can't forgive the ignorance that goes around about such an important topic as one of the biggest and most economically powerful countries in the world - not that those are the aspects I care about: it's like studying history by the thoughts of it of a six-year-old who stumbled upon some books and couldn't possibly make sense of them.
So, feel free to check up #russiabynatives sometimes: I'm sure you'll find something interesting at one point or another. If you're a Russian and are willing to tell something interesting about your country - join in! You're always welcome around this hashtag.