Recently San Miguel has been an “It Girl” in foreign media. Whether the Washington Post, London Times or a personal blog site the thread has been the same. Namely Mexicans in San Miguel de Allende are both enamored and devoted to their resident foreigners for better or worse, but being from the US, everything is only better!
The inherent narcissism, not to mention inaccuracy, is completely unquestioned.
On one hand, as a successful entrepreneur, I knew first hand fake news has been around since the start of the printing press. Reporters contact you to shoe horn a quote into an article they have already written and most all news is handed to reporters from savvy press agents. But having lived in Washington, DC I was disappointed at the shallowness of the recent Post piece. San Miguel was presented as simply a playground for wealthy ex-pats while poor Mexican struggle to enter the US.
Not that a Google search would lead you in another direction. For example, there’s a gal that visited town for an entire afternoon with videos, articles and impressive viewership numbers that lets you know how San Miguel is a town run by and for gringos.
Another less followed couple came out for a day to record themselves around town. Most of the video is of them in a Good Friday procession (marking when Jesus died). They’ve no clue what day it is or what the procession is for, but join the crowd to do a selfie video all about how the town is about US-based tourism. The entire video is cringe-worthy making me wonder “Were you two both raised by wolves?!?” Here folks are crying over Jesus’ death. Meanwhile you stand beside the oldest art in the region shouting into your phone about the pizza you just ate and spouting your supposed knowledge of the local economy?
Anyone who does a fraction of research realizes what folks from the US think or feel about San Miguel is irrelevant economically and politically. The tourism industry is based on the 1 or 2%, economically speaking, from Mexico City. Truly, we foreigners could all being taken up into Heaven in a Rapture and no one would notice, unless you worked directly for one and couldn’t get paid that day. Even with that, life and business here would continue on as it always has since most employers and clients are other Mexicans.
Like anyone who has raised a toddler or a teen has uttered to them “It isn’t always all about you.” sometimes we foreigners need this gentle reminder. If you are my age and raised here, you, your parents and grandparents have lived among a small subset of foreigners. You’ve learned we foreigners’ good and bad qualities and have mastered the art of going along to get along. However, unless you run a business that depends solely on foreigners, you aren’t all that interested in whether we stay or go.
I say all of this not to be harsh on my fellow foreigners, but to remind other media folks to look a tad deeper. Whether from the US, Canada or Titicaca, we are guests and as such must treat our host and hostess with respect and kindness and realize the fiesta was never about us, but we are welcome to join in the fun!
By Joseph Toone
Joseph Toone is the Historical Society’s short-story award winning author of the SMA Secrets book series. All books in the series are Amazon bestsellers in Mexican Travel and Holidays. Toone is SMA’s expert and TripAdvisor’s top ranked historical tour guide telling the stories behind what we do in today’s SMA. Visit HistoryAndCultureWalkingTours.com, and JosephTooneTours.com.