I’m in Australia right now on a working holiday, and learning some rather interesting facts of the culture here. So I ended up looking up “Tall Poppy Syndrome” : basically, the desire to cut down anyone who distinguishes themselves as being above the rest. Apparently, this attitude is common not only in Australia but in Canada too, as well as pretty much every Anglicized nation but America.

I see it all the time here… most especially, when someone drives by in a nice car, anyone within earshot of it will go on about how the guy’s some jerk who wants to show off how great he is by driving around in a nice car. All this guy wants is our attention, and that makes him a huge jackass; if that weren’t the case he wouldn’t be driving a Lamborghini or whatever. It’s like the guy’s pompous jackassery is implicit in the car he drives. Even the nicest, most reasonable people I’ve met here will start spitting venom at the sight of someone revving the engine of a Ferrari… despite the fact that they also really love nice cars.

I find this to be a pretty alien attitude, so when I see online that apparently we Canadians have it too, I was a bit befuddled. To use the same example, when someone drives by in a nice car, maybe revving their engine a little, I don’t think it’s common for people to react as strongly as they do here. Sure, depending on how ostentatious the guy’s being, we might giggle a little and roll our eyes a bit at how he’s showing off, but it’s been pretty rare to see the kinds of character judgments and hard edge to the criticism that you see here in Australia. On a broader scale, in Canada you see little of the anti-intellectualism common in Australia, and people often strive to do their best with little thought given to whether they’ll seem arrogant or distant for doing well.

So in my opinion, I think largely the idea that Canada has much in the way of Tall Poppy Syndrome is more to do with lumping us together with other Commonwealth countries. If anyone reading this has any ideas about the concept, though, I love to hear them 🙂