A lot has been said and written about the value of individualism in the American society. However, after spending here some time i feel a little bit confused.
First, it seems to me that a lot of individualism is expressed through individual ownership of things. For example having a fancy car defines a person as individual. Similarly, having other things is part of the individual’s definition. Soon after moving to the States, i noticed that i have never before heard such an extensive use of the word “my” combined with names of possessed items. For example in many cases where i think one could say “the thing” or just “thing” they would say “my thing”; like “my car”, “my desk”, “my TV”, “my lunch” etc.
Another, probably related, aspect seems to me more of an expression of egoism. The idea here is simple and may appear natural – first a people would think about themselves and then about the others, and it is logical that this would reflect on their relation to “things”. For (not a very good) example you are hungry, walking into a room where other people you know present, eating, and only then offering to share with others. Or you are out there camping with a group of friends, it starts raining, you are moving first of all your stuff out of the rain and only then the shared items. The attitude towards “things” and preference of your “things” over the “things” of your friends, colleagues, etc. is part of what mediates my individuality compared to the others. Do i manage to make my point clear? If i do, would you agree that this appears as an egoistic behavior?
I am not sure why I am linking it all to individualism. Probably the logical chain I have in my head is: individualism in the US (apologies for brutal generalization) = ownership of things -> preference of YOUR things upon those of collective/environment, which in turn = egoism, but am not sure i can go beyond that at this point. What do you think? Are the two linked? Is it one bundle?