Wednesday: Popular American Culture and Politics

Is Our Geography a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy?

I recently stumbled across a map of the United States that made me laugh out loud.  Scroll down and you’ll see it.  The map colorfully delineates different regions of the nation.  With a snarky smirk or a knowing nod, the artist sliced up the nation into blanket statements.  And to be completely honest, he’s not all that far from wrong.

New York City is sandwiched somewhere between “Cheesesteak” and “Snooki” and “Baseball” and “Fabulous Unhappy People” which is, I imagine, what most New Yorkers feel like when they zoom out on their Google Maps App and check out the oh-so-ignorant world around them.

My homeland is summed up as “Hot & Drunk,” and I’m going to assume  “hot” means both gorgeous and steamy.  And the rest of the nation gets pigeonholed, for better or for worse, with hilarious brevity.  “Snow.”  “Potatoes.”  “Drunk Lake People.”  You get the idea.

Here’s my question: It’s very apparent that local customs, traditions, socio-status-quos and parental idiosyncrasies dictate at least part of what makes us who we are.  But when you rocket yourself across the nation, or across the world, what do you lose from your place of origin, and what do you retain?  What do you gain from your new geography, and from what do you abstain?  And what does that say about you?

Is a New Yorker destined to clop quickly, multi-task determinedly, and talk shortly, even when once upon a time she came from “Yes Sir & Yes Ma’am” land?  Do we ditch our lifetime heritage to show we fit in, or do we cling to it to show we stand out?  I’d imagine more often than not that we find some sort of happy medium.  After all, once we discovered that Holly Golightly actually hailed from the cornbelt, her naïvete gained context, and we all said, “Oooooh.  Well, THAT makes sense.”

So check out the map, and see if your origin is coined correctly.  (Apologies for anyone from Oklahoma.  Though I do love a good dive bar.)  What makes you stand out in the New York City scene?  Does it come from your roots, or was the Big Apple a catalyst for your individuality?

As for me, every time someone asks, “did you just say ‘y’all?’ I remember the southern worldview that bred me.  And the taste of a mint julep on a hot-as-Hades day.




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