November 5, 2009

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NY Times columnist apologizes to Slovenians, because our netizens went haywire

You know, my country, Slovenia, is a very small country. It's a kind of a European Singapore, a bit bigger in size, but a little less people live than in the actual Singapore. We have like 2 million people. That's like a small city in China, btw. Nevertheless, our online community is big and... loud. Wherever someone will write about Slovenia, our netizens will find out and it will be reposted in blogs (same way I do now). So today I read in our online newspaper about a column in the New York Times, where Nicholas Kristof, one of their columnists, who recently wrote a lot about the current state of the American healthcare system, apologized to Slovenia, because he made too many comparisons with Slovenia and apparently our netizens went haywire and complained a lot. Here's what he wrote:

Now I don't really know, if he was sincerely serious (it sounds more like sarcastic), but it does lead me to one question: Are my fellow netizens crazy!? I mean, that's just beyond crazy. And it happens all the time. Wherever Slovenia is mentioned, there will be at least one of our netizens complaining about it. I kinda see this attitude a lot in Singapore, too (hence my comparison). But to put things into perspective, Korean and Chinese netizens are far worse, because they're even more sensitive and there's like millions of them. Stuff that happens there is scary. So my question is:

How are netizens in your country and are you sometimes ashamed of them?

[Sources: NY Times article][Nicholas Kristof on Twitter]


  1. I think you know how some of the netizens in my country are like, so... yeah. Hoho.

  2. Nashe

    Yep, I've seen lots of similarities between our countries, only good thing here is, that we don't have celeb bloggers bashing each other.

  3. That's crude man. For singapore netizens they bash one another for no reason, they will not praise but dig and pull each other down. As there will not be a verified or real identity who is doing all the bashings on net, they feel thrilled and addicted to it.

  4. Vampie

    Oh, yea, I noticed what you say... It's quite common there. Ours is of different kind, though, yet still can be annoying -_-

  5. Yes,some people will abuse when they have no self control. Good moral determines someone to be respectable anywhere even behind the computer. Smiles

  6. Vampie

    I agree. And same goes for shamelessly stealing your content and baby photos. They wouldn't do that in real, right? So why they do it online? Maybe they feel safer :)

  7. True! What's weird about SG compared to other countries are that they will tag/comment on yr blog without real names or real identity.

    It's always nick name or mostly anonymous. I do not know why the secrecy if you are not up for anything bad.

    Most of the tym I am replying to strangers and more strangers who know me but I do not know them.

  8. wow!! That "apology" does come of a bit sarcastic.. I would be a bit offended if I was Slovanian. I didn't read the original piece, and if this writer really was putting the country down that is horrible. After all, I suspect most American's couldn't place Slovenia on a map or identify it as a country and then this is the little info they do get??

  9. Vampie

    Oh yea. You're very open as a blogger, post a lot of private pics compared to others. I commend you for that :) If so many times people bash each other, I guess it forces most of people to remain anonymous. They're afraid maybe.


    Well, I read the article and I wasn't under the impression that he tried to offend our country, he wrote it fair and balance. I guess he didn't expect our netizens to complain so much. So I'm not sure, if he really felt apologetic. In the end, it doesn't matter to me :) I think people are overreacting and maybe misunderstood his good intentions :) That's my guess.

  10. Honestly, when it comes to public apologies, I have my doubts. The guy may not necessarily be sarcastic, but usually when people apologize publicly to a large audience, it's usually not sincere, rather, they simply want the crowd to get off their back. I said USUALLY because I would try to give him the benefit of doubt that maybe he is sincere. But who knows, maybe I'm a little biased, but after seeing the hundreds of times celebrities and politicians apologize publicly, they usually never mean it.

    As for the netizens of my country, in fact, yes, I am embarrassed by some of them, for different reasons then you but still embarrassed nonetheless.

    My embarrassment definitely had climaxed during the time the Iraqi war was going on. On forums and blogs, Europeans, Australians, and Canadians had criticized American involvement in it. To my horror, SO MANY Americans defended the war (and Bush) saying it was a radical thing to do. Now, to the British, we've always been "big, fat idiots" but after when so many Americans posted on the web in defense of the war, I felt like those posters did nothing to help our image but rather, confirmed what the British had always thought of us; as idiots.

    On another occasion (this one less political), I had a Canadian friend whom I've met over blogging. She's a really sweet girl so it's rare to see her ever get angry. But one time, she started cussing out the U.S. on her blog like I've never seen before. When I asked her what happened, she told me that after she told some American guy she met in a chatroom that she was from Canada, he responded, "So do you live in an igloo?" WTF??? Even though I'm not from Canada, I can see why she's so pissed. I would be too. The idiot associated Canadians with Eskimos and assumed they were the same, in spite of Canada being one of the most advanced countries. How can I not be embarrassed by what some dumbest Americans say online?

  11. Van

    Wow, thank you very much for your long and excellent comment.

    I agree with you on public apologies.

    Well, for me it was shameful how American mainstream media didn't press Bush harder. Come on, it's war. And it started based on lies. Well, it was 1 year after 911, the right wing was strong, the left was quiet.. must be quite scary, I guess. So I do understand, why that was, but it's still shameful, if you call yourself the best country on earth :)

    As for your Canadian friend, it's totally understandable, that she vented. It's worse with my country, which is really tiny and unknown.

    I think there's 2 types of US netizens: Total idiots and totally awsome people, while those in between are in small numbers.. If you ask me, all together American netizens are ok, I have a lot of traffic on my blog from USA and apart from few birthers, I didn't have any negative feedback :)

  12. Lol, I have to disagree with the U.S. being the best country. It's not the worst but definitely not the best either. We have a pretty low standard of living compared with most Western countries. We have one of the highest rate of crimes, if not the highest, compared with other Western countries. Our government seems to care less about us then do other Western countries care about their citizens. We seem to worship shallow Hollywood celebrities over people who really do matter (doctors who volunteer to save lives for free, fire fighters, or humanitarians). The list goes on and on but I don't want to bore you, lol. The point is, we have waaaay too many flaws to be considered the best country. I think Norway or Canada is the best, but certainly not us, lol.

    Well, even though Slovenia's a small country, if you look at your fellow citizens a different way, it just means they're proud. And pride in one's nation isn't always such a bad thing--unless it's taken to an extreme degree of nationalism, like China. Otherwise, it's not so bad.

    As for the American media to pressing Bush harder, well, sometimes the government does control the media indirectly. The U.S. gov had been known to do that before.

    Haha, I hope I fall into the category of the totally awesome U.S. netizens then. The really bad netizens aren't normally see on blogs though. They're more often seen on forums if you visit those.

  13. Ok, I should say that 'your politicians, especially conservatives, keep saying USA is the best country in the world' or stuff like 'they hate us, they want our freedoms', haha.. Always fun to follow campaigns in your country.

    Basically you can't say which country is the best, depends on your personal criteria, I guess. GDP and all the other statistic doesn't tell everything.

    Well, too much pride is shallow for me, so I felt some of those here are clearly over reacting. Sometimes you need to chill and smile :) I know Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert made jokes about Slovenia and while I felt flattered, some people already wrote on blogs and complained O_o

    Oh, yeah.. You're one of the awsome peeps, hehe. Really appreciate your comments, they're deep and make me think well how to respond :)

  14. Yep, the American conservatives are definitely nationalists. Like I said, some patriotism is good but nationalism is pretty bad.

    And speaking of which, true that too much pride is shallow. But none at all isn't so good either. I read on the news a few months ago that one of the Southeast Asian countries whose borders keep getting diminished each day by its neighbor had a government that lacked any sense of pride. I forgot who, but I think it's Vietnam. Anyhow, I remember that one of the countries in the SE region is loosing its borders to China. Every time one of their citizens would protest about it, Vietnam's government would throw them into jail. Being patriotic is somehow illegal there. Yet, when the Chinese laborers or expats physically beat up the locals, the police there would look the other way. So yeah, that's one country that really has lack of pride issues (I'm guessing that since they're both Communists, Vietnam may be kissing up to China but seriously, no other commie country kisses up to China so much).

    Maybe the Slovenians did overreact a little, but I'm sure that if Italy or Austria tried to take it over, the people and gov would unite to do something about it, lol.

    Thanks :) I just enjoy deep conversations :)

  15. Van

    I get what you mean, yeah. Well, growing up in a communist country myself, I think the nationalism was a big problem, because it's underlying and when it bursts out, riots and wars start, so it happened later in the Balkans in the 1990s. And the rise in Chinese nationalism scares me as well. I agree, best is to be in the middle, you need to feel comfortable with where you grew up and be happy about the great things significant for your culture. I love my country, but I've been around. Many people here (as well as in USA) lack the view from the outside. Then you learn to respect other cultures, who may be different, but at least you understand them better.

    Oh, don't worry, people would fight fiercly for our land, haha. We're suspicious of all our neighbors, because in the past all of them took a piece of our land and now we're so small like a dwarf screaming for acknowledgement :P

  16. Singaporean netizens love to write and make fun of our government policies and social issues.

    It's not Singapore isn't good, it's just that no matter how good it is, Singaporeans MUST find something to complain about. ^_^

  17. That writer is so rude, and he doesn't really seem sincere with his apology. Just coz you're from new york, that doesn't make you better than the rest of the world, loser!

    Anyway netizens over here are far more into politics than celebs. i guess that's a good thing, but it gets a bit boring haha

  18. Shingo T

    I see. Thanks for your opinion.


    Well, at least you have a good reputation there in Mauritius, even though it's boring :)

  19. It seems we also have powerful netizens, hehe. In my memories, when the issues become international, our netizens will fight for it, whether at online discussions, blogs or forwarding e-mails. But, the power always be used at voting and finding, seldom be used at making the issuer to change his mind. I guess that because the big continent beside us always gives pressure to other countries, so our voices are always been ignored, I do feel angry about this. And even their hackers will attack our netizens or the website which discuss and defend our rights.

    I think your netizens has done a good job, although the NY Times reporter's apology seems not so sincere. But as the behavior to "dig and pull each other down" (from Vampie), I'd rather fight for our rights or impolite rhetoric to our country. :-D

  20. LilyChen

    Well, your country Taiwan has a very unique situation, so I totally understand your netizens :) Thanks for sharing :)

  21. A lot of people don't even know about Mauritius. So now to write something about the country... *ahem*

    Hahaha that was a mean thing to say, right? :P

  22. Angele

    Haha, no.. it sounded rather cute :P

  23. The netizens I am aware of (there are far too many for me to be highly knowledgeable) I am not ashamed of. Perhaps I might be ashamed of some, if I had a greater scope of awareness of what people do in their many fora.

    It seems that Slovenians have a pride in matters Slovenian. It can be a force for good. Why should anyone have their social and support services compared with those in America? The Americans really have no basic standards for over 5 million of their people, and the numbers are growing. If you can't afford health insurance you would be lucky to get an Aspirin. As it is, many sick people who visit an emergency room for a quick patch up, (if they're lucky) leave with prescriptions they cannot afford to pay to dispense.

    I too have been offended at American comparisons with, and in some cases, downright lies about our health care. At least we have it, even if it has its imperfections..

  24. ZACL

    Yeah, you're right. But then again, the British netizens are not really famous for causing some uproar in the online community, which is great.

    As for US healthcare, you put it right. I remember when Republicans bashed your system, that's far better than theirs. They should just see how many people are denied healthcare there, they don't need to compare with others :)

  25. urm... most of the netizens that i know are not from my own country, so i dont know really....

  26. I agree...the bugger sounded a bit too sarcastic! Like what's the point of apologizing if you're not gonna be sincere about it. He just sounds bitter! Must be PMS-ing

  27. girl in stiletto

    No problem :)


    Haha, thanks for your frank assessment :)

  28. Well, the netizens (also the citizens offline) of my country usually have different opinions on issues, many will agree with the criticism of the country, some will defend, but the main consensus here is that western media (CNN in particular) gives a skewed version of international events.

  29. I agree with the girl in stiletto. I have no clue what's going on in the internet world of my homecountry. I don't feel like a German really. I feel like an international person.

    How about you Nino? You travel a lot. Do you still feel like 100% Slovenian?

  30. The Envoy

    Well, you need to filter every media. Malaysian media is also not very good, if I may add. Same goes for my country or USA. Because to events, there's always different sides and interpretations. That's the human weakness. So don't worry, we don't buy into everything CNN says here :)


    I feel 100% Slovenian, yea. We're a small country and if you're part of such a small culture and language, you are marked for life. I do feel international, I love being in Asia, but I will always be a white guy, who needs to explain to people where I come from.. And I must say I enjoy being Slovenian in Asia, I have a unique perspective on things. But I do feel a bit different than those who never really went out of Slovenia, I do feel like an international person, yes. But still I am and always will be Slovenian :)


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