By Atlas Al
I wanted to interview my friend Jose for a long time. Over a year ago we we’re talking about where we came from. What piqued my interest was how he described his background; he considered himself to be part Spanish, German, and Norwegian. How could one person be three nationalities? I’ve met many people with dual nationalities even holding two passports, but tri nationalities is practically unheard of.
There are two types of Flag Ratios:
External Flag Ratios
The External Flag Ratio is common knowledge, the most well-known and obvious of the flag ratios. To get your shag-to-flag ratio, you divide your total hook ups by your total flags. For example, if you’ve hooked up with 60 girls in your life and 20 were from different countries – not repeat flags – you have a 3:1 flag ratio.
(You could also average how many flags you’ve captured per year from the time you lost your virginity. 20 flags over 10 years is 2 flags per year.)
The most promiscuous countries in the world – UK, Germany, The Netherlands, and Australia – account for many of the world’s tourists. Multiple sex partners plus travel would lead us to believe that the above countries have hooked up with more foreigners during their travels, which would then lead us to believe that the average person from such country is more likely to have a low shag-to-flag ratio. In my opinion, the lower your external flag ratio, the more impressive it is because a higher percentage of your hook ups would have been with exotic foreigners.
A word of caution: Be careful to whom you tell your flag ratio because if they already know your flag count, they can also decipher how many total hook ups you have.
Internal Flag Ratios
External flag ratios are fun to think about, but what I’m interested in more are how people determine their own flag status.
The Internal Flag Ratio is harder to determine and requires some investigation on the flagger’s part. As the world gets smaller, more people will have as interesting or more interesting a background as Jose:
- Father is Honduran.
- Mother is German.
- Step-father is Chilean (starting when Jose was 5 years old).
- 1-23 years old: born and grew up in Spain.
- 23-45 years old: has lived and continues to live in Norway.
Atlas Al: What is it like to have so many cultural influences in your life?
Jose: I feel like a chameleon. My mix enables me to do certain things, like having a black belt in adaptability. People with more backgrounds are more adaptable than people with only one. A multi-national upbringing or living situation lets you see things a different way, to be able to learn to think like the locals.
Atlas: Have you taught yourself to think more like a Norwegian?
Jose: Norway is a country that wants you to adapt very quickly, otherwise you stick out and feel uncomfortable. It’s not always that hard; the cultures I’ve been exposed to all have similar traditions. For example, Honduras, Spain, Germany, and Norway all share the tradition of having a Christmas tree. Being a musician has also taught me to be adaptable because I like to learn beats/rhythms from different countries. I adapted to Norwegian customs very quickly for personal reasons as well.
I’m half French from my dad and half American from my mom (who is actually 50% Russian and 50% Hungarian, genetically speaking), but I’m more American than French. Jose, on the other hand, identifies with Spanish, German, and Norwegian cultures and each has had some influence on his values and belief systems. A person with dual nationality is more one nationality than the other. But what if we take an example like Jose who identifies with three nationalities?
If someone doesn’t think they see the world through a certain nationality’s eyes, they do and don’t realize it. In my case, I lean towards American more than French. Jose told me he’s 40% Spanish, 30% German, and 30% Norwegian; or an internal flag ratio of 4:3:3 respectively. Each of these cultures has had some influence on him. The only way to determine flag status for someone like Jose is to think like a stock trader.
Imagine a majority shareholder of a large company owns 40% and the other thousands or millions of other shareholders own smaller percentages. It’s irrelevant that the majority shareholder doesn’t own more than half of the company; they own the largest stake, have the biggest say about the direction of the company, and determine the soul and genetic makeup of the company. Jose may not identify more than 50% with either nationality; however, he’s more Spanish than German or Norwegian, so he’d be Spanish.
Majority determines one’s flag status; majority determines from which nationality’s eyes you see the world with.
Even though Jose has adopted some Norwegian customs, he has limits as to how far he’ll adapt. After you’ve lived in Norway for 7 years you’re allowed to apply for citizenship, but Jose prefers to remain Spanish. My dad is the same; he has lived in the US for almost 30 years and he also chooses to be a “resident alien” than renounce his French citizenship.
I asked Jose what he liked most about being an atypical Spaniard. He said he usually tells people he’s Spanish by default and that close friends know his whole story. He doesn’t consider himself to be a traditional Spaniard because of his not-so-Spanish family life and upbringing, contacts with other nationalities, travel experience, and input from many other parts of the world. He says not being a typical Spaniard is a benefit because he can always relate to foreigners and make them feel comfortable because he knows a little bit about their culture (talking about the weather is a safe but boring conversation starter).
Atlas: What do you think of flagging?
Jose: Flagging is interesting, but it’s more useful for someone determining their own nationality/flag than for the person capturing the flag. There are some Honduran and German parts of me, but what forms you is the country you learned your first language and grew up in.
When Jose meets someone for the first time, one of the last questions he’ll ask is where they’re from. He says it’s like categorizing based on where you come from, like going through an interview with a cultural bias or set of stereotypes you already have of that country. By not asking people where they’re from, you give them a chance to show you who they are without any attached cultural connotations.
Jose: Would you prefer me to look at you as half American and half French, or as Alan?
Thanks for the interview Jose.