I’ve been using the term “cultural colony” a lot more than I should lately. A dumb combination of the Yank elections, endless Twitter discourse, and my constant urge to annoy people has had me obsessed with how much hold American politics and culture seem to have over us all. Ireland was always doomed to some degree of East Yankery on account of our Anglosphere status – our shared language leads to an anaemic local press and an easier ability to completely opt-out of what’s going on nearby. However, I can’t help but feel that lockdown has accelerated things a bit further – a world where we’re stuck living online is one that can become extremely American quite rapidly.
I think this acceleration was seen most blatantly through our embarrassing obsession with the Yank election – you had insane anti-maskers droning on about QAnon on one side and middle-class weirdos getting concerningly horny for John King on the other. I’m reminded here of ‘Watching the U.S. Election While Irish’, an article published in the New York Times that seemingly depicts one of the most terminal cases of yank-brain humanly possible. “On Saturday afternoon our time, Wolf Blitzer crossed the spaceship floor of CNN’s studio to announce Mr. Biden as victor. The game, or this part of it, was over. We greeted the news like it was an acquittal for a crime we had not committed, gasped at the commentary for another hour or so, and promptly switched off CNN for the first time in four, long days”. How did we collectively get to this point as a nation, why do we need to break from it, and what does breaking even look like in an extremely online and globalized world? The answers are (somehow) more convoluted than you’d think.