+
Most Shared

Can you guess which American city is the most like the country as a whole?

If you tried to imagine the most stereotypical American town, what does it look like?

Is it something kind of "Pleasantville"-y — all black and white, and you're sipping milkshakes as you walk through an adorable downtown shopping strip, waving to your ever-friendly neighbors as they drive past in the family car with their 2.5 kids and a dog in the back? Does a certain demographic come to mind — maybe some specific display of diversity in class, race, and gender?

A new study from FiveThirtyEight analyzed the age, education level, and race/ethnicity of every metropolitan cluster in America to identify the most "normal" place in the country — that is, the place that most accurately reflects the overall demographics of the United States as a whole in relation to those three areas.


And, well, let's just say if you thought a place like Oshkosh, Wisconsin, or Lincoln, Maine, was a good representation of "mainstream American culture," you might be in for a surprise.


This is the first thing I found when I did an image search for "normal America." (Apparently it's Normal, Illinois — which is far from the real normal America.) Photo by Willjay/Wikimedia Commons.

So what is the "most normal place in America," based on FiveThirtyEight's criteria? Here are a few hints:

1. The main city's population of 130,000 people is probably more diverse than you expected.

According to the latest census information, it breaks down to 31.8% white, 35.4% black or African-American, 27.4% Hispanic or Latino, 4.7% Asian or Pacific Islander, 0.5% American Indian or Alaska Native, and 3.9% of the people identify as two or more races.

However, the surrounding metropolitan area looks more like 65% white, 14.2% black or African American,16.8% Hispanic or Latino, 4.3% Asian or Pacific Islander, 0.5% American Indian or Alaska Native, and 2.2% of those 860,000 people claiming two or more races.

Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images.

2. About 82% of residents over the age of 25 have a GED or high school diploma, but only about 33% have a bachelor's degree or higher.

In terms of public schools, the city boasts 32 elementary and middle schools, 10 high schools, five transitional schools, and one adult and continuing education center; it also educates about 3,000 students from the surrounding suburbs through various magnet programs. There are several renowned public and private schools to choose from as well.

Public high school students with good grades and attendance are also eligible to have their college educations paid for by a local private university — one of several in the area, in addition to a branch of the state college system.

3. Nearly two-thirds of the population are adults between the ages of 18 and 65.

About another third are children, with 7.1% being under the age of 5. Those over 65 comprise only 9.2% of the population. And of all those groups, more than 50% are female.

That pretty much covers FiveThirtyEight's basic idea of "normal America." But things get even more curious when you start to look at the other demographic facts about this "normal" place …

Again, the original study was based specifically on age, race/ethnicity, and education. While some of these other details might not be 93.2% similar to the country as a whole, they paint a thought-provoking picture of what a community might look like as an accurate microcosm of America — for better or for worse.

Photo by Christopher Capozziello/Getty Images.

4. The median rent is a little over $1,000 a month, and the median cost to own a home is about $250,000.

That's according to this recent census information. As for the split between those? Only about 30% of residents own their homes, and the average household size is 2.55.

5. The minimum wage is $9.15.

This city is in one of the first states to announce a gradual increase to more than $10 an hour by 2017. That being said, the necessary living wage for one adult with no dependents is estimated at $11.88 an hour. For a single parent, that number jumps to $26.09.

Photo by lracaz/Wikimedia Commons.

6. Nearly 70% of the population identifies as Democrat, about 26% identify as nonpartisan, and less than 4% are registered Republicans.

This is obviously not representative of the country as a whole. But it is interesting to consider alongside the rest of the city's demographic makeup.

7. The unemployment rate is 35% higher than the national unemployment rate.

The current unemployment rate in this "normal America" is 7.4%, compared to 5.5% throughout the country; of course, this doesn't necessarily factor in underemployment.

Photo by VersaGeek/Wikimedia Commons.

8. About half the population does not claim a religious affiliation.

More than one-third identify as Catholic, and about 7% identify as some form of Protestant, plus 3.9% who are Evangelical; 4% are Jewish, and 2.3% identify their affiliation as "other."

The rest of the country is more like 20% Catholic, and 70% Christian overall, with 1.9% Jewish, and 22.8% who don't affiliate with any religion, plus the less-than-1% each of Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, and other world religions.

9. The city has had a reputation for high crime.

At one point, a study using FBI statistics identified it as the 18th most dangerous city in America. But that ranking also fell under some heavy criticism, and another analysis placed it around 168th in the nation. Either way, crime rates are something worth considering, even if crime levels in the city vary dramatically from neighborhood to neighborhood.

Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images.

10. Median household income is about $37,500 in the city itself, and $61,000 in the surrounding areas...

Per capita income in the city is around $24,000, or $33,000 in the suburbs. 24.4% of individuals and 20.5% of families in the city live below the poverty line, including 32.2% of those under age 18 and 17.9% of those age 65 or over.

11. … but it also has one of the fastest-growing rates of income inequality in the entire country.

¯\\_(ツ)_/¯

Have you figured out where this "normal American" city yet? Here a few more hints to help paint a picture.

Photo by Milkyoreo/Wikimedia Commons.

12. There's no professional sports team.

Neither The Beast nor the Ninjas nor the Ravens ever amounted to anything more than a cool name. But it is home to one of the greatest rivalries in the nation.

13. It is said to be the first "planned city" in America.

It's historic Ninth Square district dates all the way back to 1638, and it was originally blocked out as a grid of, well, nine squares.

Photo from Noroton/Wikimedia Commons.

14. Interchangeable rifle parts were invented there, as well as the first automatic revolver.

To this day, military technology and defense contractors are some of the largest industries — even though this place also has some of the most strict regulations for guns owners in America, and only 3.75% of the residents are known to own guns.

And of course, like many normal American cities, much of that industrial real estate is now becoming luxury condos...

15. It's also reported to be the home of the hamburger.

OK so this little detail is one of the most stereotypically "American" things imaginable. They also have pizza so good it has its own Wikipedia page. (Of course, I might be biased; I did grow up there.)

Photo by Christopher Capozziello/Getty Images.

Believe it or not, the "most normal" place in America is … New Haven, Connecticut.

Whatever preconceived notions you may have had about the home of the frisbee, it's probably not what most people think of when they think about "normal America."

And those wholesome, "Leave It To Beaver"-esque images that most people do think of? You can still find that today in places like Kentucky, West Virginia, and Indiana — but the statistics only rate them as a little more than 50% representative of the real United States as a whole.

That's not to say that either one is necessarily better than the other. But it is the reality of the country we live in.

The whole FiveThirtyEight study is a fascinating look into what the United States of America really looks like — and why it's so important that we reconsider how we think and speak of "Main Street America."

Finally, someone explains why we all need subtitles

It seems everyone needs subtitles nowadays in order to "hear" the television. This is something that has become more common over the past decade and it's caused people to question if their hearing is going bad or if perhaps actors have gotten lazy with enunciation.

So if you've been wondering if it's just you who needs subtitles in order to watch the latest marathon-worthy show, worry no more. Vox video producer Edward Vega interviewed dialogue editor Austin Olivia Kendrick to get to the bottom of why we can't seem to make out what the actors are saying anymore. It turns out it's technology's fault, and to get to how we got here, Vega and Kendrick took us back in time.

They first explained that way back when movies were first moving from silent film to spoken dialogue, actors had to enunciate and project loudly while speaking directly into a large microphone. If they spoke and moved like actors do today, it would sound almost as if someone were giving a drive-by soliloquy while circling the block. You'd only hear every other sentence or two.

Keep ReadingShow less

Tater Tots, fresh out of the oven.

It’s hard to imagine growing up in America without Tater Tots. They are one of the most popular kiddie foods, right up there with chicken nuggets, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and macaroni and cheese. The funny thing is the only reason Tater Tots exist is that their creators needed something to do with leftover food waste.

The Tater Tot is the brainchild of two Mormon brothers, F. Nephi and Golden Grigg, who started a factory on the Oregon-Idaho border that they appropriately named Ore-Ida. The brothers started the factory in 1951 after being convinced that frozen foods were the next big thing.

According to Eater, between 1945 and 1946, Americans bought 800 million pounds of frozen food.

Keep ReadingShow less
Internet

Relationship expert tells people to never get married unless you're willing to do 3 things

"If you and your partner (both) are unable or unwilling to do these 3 things consistently forever, you won’t make it."

Relationship expert gives people advice on getting married.

Being in a relationship can be difficult at times. Learning someone else's quirks, boundaries, and deep views on the world can be eye-opening and hard. But usually, the happy chemicals released in our brain when we love someone can cause us to overlook things in order to keep the peace.

Jayson Gaddis, a relationship expert, took to Twitter to rip off people's rose-colored glasses and tell them to forego marriage. Honestly, with the divorce rate in this country being as high as it is, he probably could've stopped his tweet right there. Don't get married, the end. Many people would've probably related and not questioned the bold statement, but thankfully he followed up with three things you must be willing to do before going to the chapel.

Before going into his reasons for why he tells people not to get married, Gaddis explained that he is a person that "LOVEs being married." I mean, it would probably make him a pretty weird relationship expert if he hated relationships, so it's probably a good thing he enjoys being married. Surely his spouse appreciates his stance as well.

Keep ReadingShow less
Family

Developmental scientist shared her 'anti-parenting advice' and parents are relieved

In a viral Twitter thread, Dorsa Amir addresses the "extreme pressure put on parents in the West."

Photo by kabita Darlami on Unsplash, @DorsaAmir/Twitter

Parents, maybe give yourselves a break

For every grain of sand on all the world’s beaches, for every star in the known universe…there is a piece well intentioned, but possibly stress-inducing parenting advice.

Whether it’s the astounding amount of hidden dangers that parents might be unwittingly exposing their child to, or the myriad ways they might be missing on maximizing every moment of interaction, the internet is teeming with so much information that it can be impossible for parents to feel like they’re doing enough to protect and nurture their kids.

However, developmental scientist and mom Dorsa Amir has a bit of “anti-parenting advice” that help parents worry a little less about how they’re measuring up.

First and foremost—not everything has to be a learning opportunity. Honestly, this wisdom also applies to adults who feel the need to be consistently productive…raises hand while doing taxes and listening to a podcast on personal development
Keep ReadingShow less

A guy with road rage screaming out of his car.

A psychologist who’s an expert in narcissism has released a telling video that reveals one of the red flags of the disorder, being an erratic driver.

"Most people, when they tell the story backwards of a narcissistic relationship, are able to see the red flags very clearly,” Dr. Ramani said in her video. “However, seeing them forwards isn't hard. But if you see them too late, it means you've already been through the narcissistic relationship, you're devastated and have likely wasted a lot of time."

Dr. Ramani Durvasula is a licensed clinical psychologist in Los Angeles, Professor Emerita of Psychology at California State University and author of several books, including “Should I Stay or Should I Go: Surviving A Relationship with a Narcissist.”

Keep ReadingShow less
www.youtube.com

Man hailed 'Highway Hero' for running across four lanes of traffic

Holy cow, Bat Man! You're always supposed to be aware of other vehicles when you're driving but what do you do when you notice someone has lost consciousness while speeding down the highway?

It's a scenario that no one wants to see play out, but for Adolfo Molina, the scenario became reality and he didn't hesitate to spring into action. Molina was driving down the highway when he spotted a woman in a blue car who lost consciousness as her car careened down the shoulder of the highway. The concerned driver quickly pulled over in order to attempt to rescue the woman.

But there was a problem, he had to cross four lanes of traffic on the highway just to make it to the woman's still moving car. That obstacle didn't stop him. Molina sprinted across the highway, crossing right in front of a black pick up truck before running at full speed to attempt to open the woman's door and stop her car.

Keep ReadingShow less