People are scared of what they don’t know which creates a huge area for stereotypes to formulate. For this reason stereotypes have become very easy to spread throughout cultures and have become easy for those cultures to take them as fact. The people who create the stereotypes have some basis of knowledge of the stereotyped culture and pass their perspective of the culture onto others from their home, who takes it as fact because they have nothing else to go off of. Eventually this perception of a culture snowballs into a stereotype, which is accepted by most people. This sometimes paints an incorrect picture of a culture and can negatively affect a person from that culture when they finally interact with a person who has that stereotype.
When I was getting ready to come to Ireland I was trying to gather any information I could on the country, the people, and the traditions. In my personal research a lot of stereotypes came into the mix of things people told me. I finally realized they were stereotypes when I actually came to Ireland and witnessed the culture first hand. One of the Irish stereotypes I was told was that the Irish like to get drunk frequently. Although there is some basis to the accusation, like most stereotypes, this is in fact not true. The Irish do enjoy their local brews and stouts, but most only like to drink them in pubs. The plethora of pubs in Ireland might actually be where the origin of the stereotype came from. The Irish pub is a popular place for social and political discussion, usually accompanied by Irish traditional music, making it a place like non-other in the world. It might be because of the many traditional pubs that Ireland has received a drinking reputation. Another stereotype I was told was the stereotype of the ‘fighting Irish.’ I can offer no reasoning why the Irish would be type casted into this stereotype, given that they are the nicest people I have ever met. Everybody is overly nice to everyone else. No matter who you are or where you’re from most people are willing to help. In contrast in America, if you try to ask a question, some will just walk on by without a second glance. Although the younger college crowd would be the one’s more inclined to play into the stereotype, I’ve never seen anything of the sort in the city, which really shows the holes in the facts behind the stereotype.
I have made a point to ask many of the Irish and people from other countries what their perceptions of Americans are because I’m always interested to get a different perspective on my culture from another. My German roommates and myself have talked extensively about our different cultures and their similarities and differences (one difference is that they speak almost perfect English & I only know a little Spanish as a second language). A frequent stereotype of Americans from the Irish people that I have talked is that all American own a gun. Although we have the most people per capita owning guns in the world this preconception is not at all true. I think this stereotype is heavily plaid out by the national and international media due to the frequency of its debate in America. It is also heavily talked about due to the amount of gun violence and shootings in America. These types of news stories, the ones that are violent and gain publicity, are the extent of the news that Ireland gets from America. This is why it is heavily stereotyped that all American’s like and own guns, so to “fill a vacuum of knowledge” that they do not have.
The image above seems to be the extent of what most Americans think of when they think of people from Ireland. What I have learned about this stereotype is that it is one that has snowballed greatly out of proportion, giving all Irish people a bad rap. The Irish don’t go out and drink purely to fight at all. If they do go out for a drink, they go out to socialize and talk about life. This type of mature socialization is what the Irish should be known for and not the misrepresentation that this meme gives them.