General Question

fremen_warrior's avatar

Does the US of A own the internet?

Asked by fremen_warrior (5487points) August 11th, 2012

Often surfing the web, sometimes even looking at questions posted at Fluther, I get the impression that US Americans seem oblivious to other people. The presuppositions they make, posting questions like “what do you think of the upcoming elections”, assuming everyone ‘knows’ they meant the US elections, can be irritating once you’ve come across an x-th instance of this kind of behaviour…

I would like you to do two things:
1) state where you are from
2) comment on what I have written above:
– whether you agree/disagree with my observations
– (hopefully) explaining why you do or do not.

I am curious whether I am just so purely anti-american that I go out of my way to find things to badmouth them about, or is my growing antipathy rooted in something more or less… tangible.


Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

46 Answers

Imadethisupwithnoforethought's avatar

1) I am from America

2) We don’t own it. But we assume the President of the United States will likely have more impact on the economy and strategic concerns of whatever country you happen to be from than your own elections.


jrpowell's avatar

You could always use something like:

I’m sure there is something like Fluther in your language. If there isn’t you should make it it.

Mr_Paradox's avatar

1) American
2) Since we see Fluther in English we assume it is an American site. I have fallen into that trp more than once.

syz's avatar

American view of the world
The English language predisposes me to assume American-oriented.

MilkyWay's avatar

But… but… English is from England

wilma's avatar

1. American.
2. We don’t own the internet.
I think that on this site that is I believe, started by Americans and was at least until recently headquartered in America, and written in English, perhaps we assume that most folks will know what presidential election is being discussed.
On Fluther I know that there are people from all over the Earth participating. I try to keep that in mind when I ask or answer a question. That doesn’t mean that I am always successful in making that point, or that you will perceive what I say that way.

JLeslie's avatar


I try to remember to state if my question refers to the US, because I do realize we have jellies here from many parts of the world. I’m sure sometimes I forget to do it. Mostly Americans are in this site, so people fall into the trap of feeling comfortable it is an American audience. A mistake in my opinion, but also understandale. I have seen people from other countries post questions that make no sense to me as an American.

Americans are probably more llikely than other countries to assume everyone listening is an American, or not bother to clarify the question pertains to America, also because as an American a large portion of our country is only surrounded by America. They can travel for 3,000 miles and still be in America. Americans can be quite ethnocentric and oblivious to the rest of the world. But, here on fluther, I would say that is not the case. Our collective seems for the most part very worldly in my opinion. Americans and people from other countries.

Imadethisupwithnoforethought's avatar

@Freemen and @ Milky Way as an aside, I would love to hear more questions about the politics of other countries. Why do you suppose nobody asks?

Bellatrix's avatar


No I don’t think the US owns the internet or that the US influences my life particularly. I am not anti US but Asian countries have more influence over the country I live in. I understand the US is a global leader but there are other global leaders such as Indian and particularly China.

What I find more annoying than an assumption that the US has some sort of global ownership of the internet or otherwise is when people (and not just US citizens) call the US President, the President of the World. I have heard this on numerous occasions and until I get a vote I don’t want the US President imposed upon me.

JLeslie's avatar

@Bellatrix I think the phrase is leader of the free world. I hate that phrase also.

DeanV's avatar

A) I’m from America.

B) I don’t think the internet is strongly American, but I do think the internet is strongly english, as in the language. Perhaps that’s where the confusion is coming from?

gailcalled's avatar

I was struck by the ability of the athletes of the non-English speaking countries to speak English so well.

It is the lingua franca of the games and of the world. “Why” is another question for another day.

Fluther was, of course, founded by two Americans.

cookieman's avatar

1) American
But my wife is Argentine, my daughter Chinese, and the inlaws Italian, if that helps.

2) Some Americans are an arrogant bunch. They assume it’s our way or the highway, bucko. If we don’t own something, we damn well should.

I promise you, we’re not all like that. Those guys are just the loudest.

filmfann's avatar

1) I am an American. I live in the United States.

2) This is an English language site. You have a computer, and an ISP. Odds are you are American. I welcome input from anyone from other cultures and countries.
Regarding our elections: I know international news takes note of our elections, and the campaigns for office. We have also discussed the Greek economy, issues with China and Tibet, and many “foreign” news items.

gailcalled's avatar

Recently we discussed whether most homes in Germany had attics.

We have found podiatrists for someone living in Hong Kong.

Our Dutch friends continue to embarrass us by making puns in English that are funny.

jerv's avatar

1) US

2) Most of the people posting on sites that do not end in a two-letter nation code (like .uk or .au etcetera) in English are presumed to be American while the Aussies and the Limeys get their own domains. Not saying that’s right, merely that that is the perception.

More importantly, many people consider the internet to be kind of like their own living room. I don’t know about you, but my living room is in the same country I am. How many times have you heard of someone posting something on their Facebook wall meant only for their friends, forgetting that people they don’t want to have see that stuff are on their FB Friends list?

I think the reason you go out of your way to find things to hate about us is that you cannot help but hear more about us than you care to, just as I hear too much celebrity gossip and (being a Seattlite) too many Nirvana songs. Accordingly, you have a strong antipathy towards us not because we feel like we own the internet, but just because you are sick of hearing about stuff that has no bearing on your life.

rooeytoo's avatar

I am American living in Australia for the last 16 or so years.

I don’t find Americans to be any more or less arrogant, demanding or otherwise annoying than the population of any other country. Each group has their share of jerks and good folks.

I use and most sites that pop up are aussie, then yankee, then brit, then asian. Does that indicate a sinister conspiratorial plot in the making?

Sponge's avatar

1) US

2) If I’m on an US-based website or forum I always assume everyone is from that region

3) Is that bad?

Bellatrix's avatar

@JLeslie, yes ‘Leader of the Free World’ grates too. I have actually had Australians (usually very young students) refer to the US President as “our President”. I heard a television announcer say this on one occasion, which left me choking on my Wheaties. I seem to recall the station concerned got a few emails about that one.

Depending on what I am looking for most sites I use originate in Australia, followed by the UK, then the US.

JLeslie's avatar

@Bellatrix I find that quite shocking that an Australian would refer to a US president as “our President.” Not only is it incorrect in my mind, but also after talking to so many Aussies on my recent vacation, I am surprised any Australian wants to meld together our countries. Seemed to me the Australians felt Americans to be idiots going along with the health care system we have, and being so religious, and having so many guns, and more. Don’t get me wrong, none of them were rude, and most realized it was not all of the American population that went along with these things.

Bellatrix's avatar

As I mentioned those who have said “our president” have usually been very young and disinterested in politics generally and the TV announcer, what can I say, just an idiot. So the comments were about ignorance rather than choice.

Most Australians don’t think this and wouldn’t think it or want to adopt the US President. I am actually somewhat irritated by the amount of coverage the US Presidential race gets over here. Our public broadcaster has included a lot of coverage of candidates, who they are are, opinion about them etc. We even have a program dedicated to the US Presdential race. This greater emphasis seems to be a more recent thing so perhaps there is more on slow news days. I don’t believe we shouldn’t be aware of what is happening in the US politically but I think there is a disproportionate amount of coverage on the ABC (our public broadcaster).

Sorry if we took your thread a little off track @fremen_warrior. Flag if you want these posts removed.

Berserker's avatar

Canada, eh. Well, Fluther was started by Americans, and a large portion of the member base here is American. So it’s only logical that many American matters might be brought up. @Bellatrix makes a good point; the whole world is aware of American elections, but outside of Australia or Canada, you’ll barely ever hear much about elections the there. So if anything, the Internet is a byproduct of whatever reason is responsible for making American elections well known everywhere. Not anti American here, but it has to be said, America has a bad rep around a lot of places, maybe that’s why. But so do Islamic countries, we hear about those all the time, too.

Nullo's avatar

Nobody owns the Internet, though lots of people own the individual components thereof. And there are a lot of Americans in the English-speaking parts of the Web, particularly because Americans make up a significant chunk of the English-speaking world.

Best I can figure, Americans are preoccupied with America because there’s a lot of it. Fifty pseudo-nations, each with its history, landmarks, significant events, customs, cultures, etc. is a lot to keep track of.

@syz Maybe you ought to have a look at this map instead.

Sunny2's avatar

I am delighted that we have people from so many countries visit on Fluther. I tend to forget that, when I ask questions and don’t specify the US when when I should. Perhaps we could all do better in asking questions about our own countries by adding a bit of background if it isn’t obvious what the question is about.

Aethelflaed's avatar

1. American
2. Fluther was created by Americans, aimed at Americans, exclusive to English speakers, and the vast majority of users are American. Is it really so bad that most questions would not really keep clarifying the obvious?
3. The Rest of the Internet: I’ve found it’s really site-specific. Yes, there’s lots of sites where it’s implicit that it’s US-centric, but then muuuch of the time when it’s a site that caters to a different nationality, that site will have the same underlying of “of course we’re talking about German politics – wtf did you think we were talking about??”. Others are really “of course we’re talking about NYC – the bloggers/mods/owners all live there and have stated that repeatedly”. That’s the beauty of the internet – everyone can create a space for themselves.

jerv's avatar

I’ve been thinking about this a little more.

An issue that has always been present in the computer world before the Internet as we know it existed is the concept of Cyberspace. The US has granted military “jurisdiction” (for lack of a better word) to the Air Force as they equate it with Aerospace, and the Mitnick case (among others) first introduced the legal question, “Is it theft if the lawful owner still has the original item in question?”. That tells me that the digital world is still beyond the comprehension of those in power. And the recent SOPA/PIPA issues only reinforce that point as they continue to try to apply meatspace rules to cyberspace.

The Law still has yet to really understand technology. In fact, many people really don’t For millennia, we have been raised with the concepts of nations and borders, yet technology has created something that transcends mere geography, upon which many of our laws are based. Say, for instance, a Russian hacker gets into a British computer network and some of the hops they use to try to cover their trail are in Zimbabwe, California, Thailand, and other places; who has a legal stake in their prosecution? They were never actually in any of those places so it’s not really trespassing… or is it?

Who owns the Internet? Since it isn’t a physical place/object, one could argue that it cannot be owned any more than Jesus can. Who owns speech? And it’s pervasive enough that geography is irrelevant. Who owns oxygen?

So I think that the most accurate answer that can really be given to this question (or at least the headline of it) is “Mu”. Can the Internet even be owned? If not then the original premise of the question is flawed to the point that it cannot be answered.

As for the expansion on this question, I think it safe to say that between our wealth and mostly sheer numbers, it’s statistically likely that any English-speaking person on a .com site is American. Think about it; what other English-speaking nation has 314 million people? It isn’t so much a question of owning the Internet as it is the rather high odds of the people reading are American.

mattbrowne's avatar

1) Germany
2) Americans invented the Internet and a Brit invented the web in Switzerland

Germans invented the car and today Americans build cars too. Same for the Internet. If America decided to shut it down it would continue to exist outside of America. That’s the way it was designed.

About the Fluther questions: When no context is given, the default is American, simply because the vast majority of Jellies are Americans. By the way I’ve also noticed Brits falling into an Anglo-Saxon trap which can cause some irritation among non-Anglo-Saxons. Same on the Western level. Sometimes we are all guilty of ethnocentrism.

Nullo's avatar

@Symbeline Given my government’s… international focus, keeping an eye on it may be simple prudence on the part of other countries.

dabbler's avatar

1) U.S.
2) As noted by @mattbrowne “Americans invented the Internet and a Brit invented the web in Switzerland”.
The domain name service was U.S.-controlled for years and is still heavily influenced by U.S. interests. It’s become ICAAN, which has broadened its view a bit in recent years.
U.S. entities dominate the *.com space while companies from most other countries will have their country code in their URL. .... It’s easy to assume a *.com site is U.S.-based.

3) Yes, We of the U.S. do tend to feel like we’re at the center of things, to the point of ignorance. Some of us try hard to keep a more real perspective but our news and other media here don’t help a bit.

Lightlyseared's avatar

1) British

2) It’s funny I read a Chinese website regulalry and everyone there assumes everybody is Chinese (although I suppose if you round the numbers enough everyone is).

Nullo's avatar

@Lightlyseared They say that there’s about a 1% chance of a given person being related to Genghis Kahn.

MilkyWay's avatar

@Nullo I deffo know I am.

fremen_warrior's avatar

Let’s do this (more or less) in order of appearance…

@Imadethisupwithnoforethought and @johnpowell your “this is ‘merica <hrnpf>” sentiments crack me up. Great to see I got the entire spectrum of opinions here. As for the questions regarding the politics of other countries that’s a whole different thread (start a new one, perhaps, it could be an interesting discussion), this question was not really supposed to be about politics, just about attitudes of interenet users.

@Mr_Paradox, @syz I am not saying people from other nations are not guilty of such assumptions, thank you for keeping an open mind about this though. @MilkyWay right? But it is probably due to the whole ”.com = most probably from the US” situation.

@JLeslie and @Bellatrix the cultural aspect of this, shall we say, phenomenon, is indeed interesting. USA’s superstate status, it’s self perception as being unique and needing to spread its values as a promotor of Democracy(tm) definitely have an influence on how US Americans percieve the rest of the world – kind of what @Symbeline said – and how they behave (on the internet). I am starting to think this is a deeper issue.

@DeanV, @gailcalled, @cprevite, and @filmfann this is not merely due to the site being in English, since as @MilkyWay jokingly added English is… well English. And Australian. And Indian. etc. I am also not saying the disproportion in questions regarding other parts of the world is baad, mmkay (though like @rooeytoo said it’s more like a global conspiracy xD) – I do realize more people in the US even have access to the internet than the rest of the world.

I think I can agree with @jerv here that mostly it’s a result of the “living room effect” and what @Nullo said about the fact that there is so much America all around Americans no matter where they go, this kind of thinking easily gets copied onto the internet. Also the fact that indeed far too much attention is given to US matters outside of the US imo.

My biggest beef with the US is I guess that prying, invasive approach to well, other people’s business, best described here. Add to that the amount of news coverage, the “of course we’re talking about the US – like anywhere else in the world matters?” attitudes of quite a few netizens, things like “leader of the free world” mentioned before… heck, even the way the US treats its “allies” (Polish visas anyone?).

Sidenote: despite the human rights violations and turbulent recent history I actually trust and respect China (PRC) more than the US. The Chinese nowadays stick to a policy of non-interference with other nations’ affairs (given, sometimes seemingly to the extreme), and just focus on growth, and building good relations with their neighbours, and the rest of the world. After decades of American-themed international politics (coups, proxy wars, asassinations, wars of aggression, forcing the Washington Consensus on third world markets etc.), I find this cooperative, “harmonious” approach to international relations… refreshing.

@Aethelflaed I understand where you are coming from with this but nowhere on Fluther does it say the site is American. @jerv I agree the odds are what they are but it’s just not that simple imo. In “meatspace” it is common courtesy to not exclude someone from the conversation by talking in a language they would not understand (unless you do not want them part of the discussion), why should the internet be any different? You can put an NSFW marker by a question, why not indicate it’s a UK or US or EU specific one – takes 3–4 seconds, tops.

@mattbrowne, @dabbler I see the internet as a kind of nervous system of our planet-wide civilization, and would actually hate for it to be owned by anyone. The internet should be free, and access to it should be one of the human rights. Naturally I get ticked off when someone assumes they’re “the center of the (e-)universe”.

Thank you all for taking part in this thread, further comments are most welcome, this is a really interesting subject for me, so, by all means, keep ‘em coming ;-) and I’ll try and reply asap.


wilma's avatar

I think @jerv said it best when he said: I think the reason you go out of your way to find things to hate about us is that you cannot help but hear more about us than you care to, just as I hear too much celebrity gossip and (being a Seattlite) too many Nirvana songs. Accordingly, you have a strong antipathy towards us not because we feel like we own the internet, but just because you are sick of hearing about stuff that has no bearing on your life.

A great majority of American have no say in what you hear from your media. Most of us don’t even know what you are hearing about us and probably don’t understand why you are hearing what you are.
I am not interested in a lot of the news that is presented to me. It’s not necessarily the fault of whoever the news is about. They may not even want any notoriety at all. It’s up to the media folks that determine what is news.

fremen_warrior's avatar

@wilma I could ignore the media, there still remains the “we’re the best, f*ck the rest” aspect as exhibited by some US Americans on the internet, plus the nasty evil sh*t this particular country has done during the course of the past two hundred years or so. While I realize all empires are “controversial”, it does not mean people have to like what these superstates do.

This thread is not just a reaction to the US-centrism the world stumbled into with the end of the second world war, though that certainly is a big part of my motives here. I feel the US has contributed very much to science, technology, human rights, culture in general, on the other hand however I see the evil that politicaly, militarily and economically the US has wrought upon the world, and it spoils the otherwise nice picture. IMO the world would respect and like the US again as it once did, if it focused its international policies more inwardly. Thoughts?

wilma's avatar

@fremen_warrior No one is perfect and no country is perfect.
You feel that some Americans think “we’re the best, f*ck the rest” and that may be true, but I also know that most Americans do not think that way, and I think that could be said about some people from any country.

I don’t know where you live or if you have ever spent much time in the US, but I do know that not all Americans are the same and just like everywhere else, there are people who you may agree with and those who you don’t.
I’m not going to pretend that I’m an expert in US foreign policy, but if we are so self-centered, then don’t you suppose that we are focusing on our own situations more that you might know about?

I know many Americans who would love it if we would “get out” of other countries. If we would keep our resources and money, our food, our science and our military at home and involve ourselves only here.
Some say we are not involved enough, some say we are involved too much. It’s a balancing act that I would not want to have to choreograph.

rooeytoo's avatar

Well said @wilma plus I would like to add (again) that the superior attitude to which you refer is not restricted to yanks, nor is the so called evil done to the world only an American perogative.

jerv's avatar

One thing to note here is that, while India and China are far ahead, the US is the third largest country in the world. California alone would make #34 on the list of “Most populated countries” and is only a small percentage of our national total. Texas has more people than North Korea. What that means is that even if you only see that sort of thing from a small percentage of Americans, you will still see it in many millions of people.

And, of course, we are large in area as well, which leads to a lot of diversity. Comparing me (born and raised in the Northeast) to a Texan would be a grave insult to both of us despite being of the same nationality. We are far from a homogenous society.

You will also be happy to know that many Americans are displeased or outright ashamed of our country for some of the things it has done. For instance, many of us are totally against even having gone to Afghanistan in the first place, let alone still being there. Many of us feel that the US should acknowledge that it is part of the world, and (with less than 5% of the total human population) not the center of it. That other countries are our neighbors and not merely tourist spots, customers, or suppliers.

@rooeytoo I think both the US and Australia would agree that it’s great to no longer be part of the British Empire. They were real bastards!

rooeytoo's avatar

@jerv – I’ll check around and let you how Australia feels about it.

Bellatrix's avatar

Actually @jerv Australia is still part of the Commonwealth of Nations or the British Commonwealth. The debate about whether Australia should become a republic has not yet been resolved.

jerv's avatar

@Bellatrix The British Commonwealth is a bit different; more mellow, more laid-back, and a bit less… Empirical.

Bellatrix's avatar

I doubt the republicans here would agree with your appraisal. They would like to sever all ties to the Mother Country.

MilkyWay's avatar

@jerv I think both the US and Australia would agree that it’s great to no longer be part of the British Empire. They were real bastards!
Gee, thanks. :P

rooeytoo's avatar

I was waiting for some Brits to weigh in on that one!

RareDenver's avatar

It’s true though. In not proud of the old British Empire. It was won by violence and rape of the people and their lands. Wasn’t just the Brits though, the French, Dutch, Spanish etc were all at it.

rooeytoo's avatar

That is the point, there are no innocents in this world. It is only a question of where you are on the food chain.

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