American dream

While scrolling through a popular internet forum, I noticed the question, “If there’s an American Dream, what’s the American Nightmare?” Here are the top-voted responses. 

1. Ignorance in the United States

The number one-voted answer is ignorance, and people best said it by quoting Carl Sagan “I have a foreboding of an America in my children’s or grandchildren’s time — when the United States is a service and information economy; when nearly all the manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; 

When awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues, when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; 

When clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what’s true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness.

The dumbing down of Americans is most evident in the slow decay of substantive content in the enormously influential media, the 30-second sound bites (now down to 10 seconds or less), lowest common denominator programming, credulous presentations on pseudoscience and superstition, but especially a kind of celebration of ignorance.”

Others quoted Isaac Asimov, “There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. 

The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘My ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.'”

2. Not Having Medical Insurance

Many noted that not having medical insurance destroys people’s lives and credit scores. One explained an accident or disease you can’t afford medical care for is a terror many lower socioeconomic families face consistently. “That can amount to a lifetime of debt and financial ruin.”

Another elaborated, “I have a friend that works in insurance. During his early days, he had a poor guy with some medical issues requiring an extended stay in the hospital. 

The bill was in the millions. It was his job to work out a payment plan with the guy. He said to send a check for what you can. Next week he gets a check addressed to him from that guy for $5. He called and discussed it with the guy. He said that’s all he could afford. 

Fifteen years later, every week, he gets a check addressed to him from that guy for 5$. Even though he’s moved up in the company, the guy sends the check to him, and the office mail drops it in his box. He figured out that it would take 400 years for the guy to pay off the debt at 5$ a week.”

3. Living Paycheck to Paycheck

“Paycheck-to-paycheck living into your old age,” shared one. Another explained, “Charles Schwab found that 59% of Americans were just a paycheck away from homelessness in 2022. However, due to inflation, that number is now 64% of Americans live paycheck-to-paycheck.”

4. Unnecessary College Debts 

One user volunteered, “When you get a college degree but realize you work with people who have no college degrees and earn the same amount as you. What was the point of all that debt? A Bachelor’s Degree means nothing these days.” 

Others argued that a Bachelor’s degree is necessary for vocations such as doctors and lawyers. But they don’t stop at that degree. They go further. So it was criticized again.

5. Being Homeless

Being homeless is an American nightmare. But, unfortunately, people are more concerned about seeing unappealing makeshift tents on the side of the streets than helping the people reduced to living in them. 

On noted that homeless people are often judged as drunks and drug addicts, which is unfortunate “considering the massive number of Americans who are only one paycheck, one accident, illness, or job loss away from complete economic collapse.”

6. Being a Homeless Drug Addict

Others noted that being a homeless drug addict is a different American nightmare than being homeless. For example, someone shared, “Being a homeless fentanyl addict on the street of Seattle is a nightmare. 

Another volunteered, “I’ve only spent a few months in the U.S. my whole life, but in that time, I met two oxy addicts, gifted the honor by their doctors.”

7. Making Too Much for Help, But Not Enough to Live

One shared, “Drowning in debt and unable to afford needed medical care. Earn too much for public assistance but not enough to pay your bills.” Another agreed, “Ha, I know this feeling. I have tried to get food stamps twice in my life. The first time I made 15 dollars too much. The second time I made 5 dollars too much. So I just starved.” 

8. Being Enslave to a Corrupt Political System 

“The American Nightmare is living in ‘the greatest country in the world‘ yet being worked to death, not able to afford or take time off for vacation, not able to afford medical bills, barely able to pay bills and rent/mortgage, and seeing no end in sight because you’ll never be able to afford retirement. 

Also, struggling to survive in a household where both parents have full-time jobs, yet a few decades ago, it was common for one parent to support a family on a full-time income.

Not to mention paying taxes to support politicians that put us in this mess to begin with, and who make far more money than the average worker. But unfortunately, the people making the rules can’t relate to the average person on either side of the political spectrum. 

While big corporations are making more money than ever, and billionaires are using loopholes to pay little to nothing in taxes. With corrupt politicians, there’s no end in sight. We’re living the American Nightmare.”

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9. Being Poor in America

“In America, you’re punished severely for being poor. So I can’t imagine poverty is worse anywhere else than it is in America,” one claimed. “Because poverty is viewed as a personality or character flaw in America. 

‘That person is lazy, and that’s why they’re poor.’ And then there’s the idea that poor people get a lot of ‘free stuff,’ which helps feed into the ‘they’re lazy’ concept. 

Plus, the thinking that poor people in America get all sorts of free stuff makes it so you don’t have to feel sympathy for them and fosters resentment against poor people. 

It is why no one cares about the cottage industry that has sprung up to take advantage of poor people: rent-to-own scams, urban ‘food deserts,’ payday loans…..I know poverty sucks no matter where you are, but at least in other places, people don’t pretend like it’s not a problem. 

Some countries might ignore poverty, but we’ve done them one better in America. Because unfortunately, we usually see it as something poor people did to themselves if we acknowledge it.”

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10. Being a Victim of American Violence

Several people discussed the violence in America, noting that the American nightmare is gang wars, school shootings, power-hungry, corrupt cops, not looking white enough, not being in the majority, and not being a significant enough minority to get minority privileges.”

What do you think? Did Reddit get this right, or do you disagree with this list? This article is inspired by the internet and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of The Impulse Traveler.

The article was produced and syndicated by The Impulse Traveler.


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