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Pop Culture

A viral post argues East Coast folks are better people even if they aren't as 'nice' as those out West

It's sparked a "nice vs. kind" debate from people across the country.

A viral post argues East Coast folks are better people even if they aren't as 'nice' as those out West

Having lived in small towns and large cities in the Pacific Northwest, Southwest, and Midwest, and after spending a year traveling around the U.S. with my family, I've seen first-hand that Americans have much more in common than not. I've also gotten to experience some of the cultural differences, subtle and not-so-subtle, real and not-so-real, that exist in various parts of the country.

Some of those differences are being discussed in a viral thread on Twitter. Self-described "West coaster" Jordan Green kicked it off with an observation about East coasters being kind and West coasters being nice, which then prompted people to share their own social experiences in various regions around the country.

Green wrote:

"When I describe East Coast vs West Coast culture to my friends I often say 'The East Coast is kind but not nice, the West Coast is nice but not kind,' and East Coasters immediately get it. West Coasters get mad.

Niceness is saying 'I'm so sorry you're cold,' while kindness may be 'Ugh, you've said that five times, here's a sweater!' Kindness is addressing the need, regardless of tone.

I'm a West Coaster through and through—born and raised in San Francisco, moved to Portland for college, and now live in Seattle. We're nice, but we're not kind. We'll listen to your rant politely, smile, and then never speak to you again. We hit mute in real life. ALOT.


So often, we West Coasters think that showing *sympathy* or feeling *empathy* is an act of kindness. Sadly, it's really just a nice act. Kindness is making sure the baby has a hat. (s/o to breenewsome and BlackAmazon)

When you translate this to institutions or policy, you'll see alot of nice words being used, & West Coast liberals/radicals are really good at *sounding* nice. But I've seen organizers & activists from other places get frustrated because nothing happens after ALOT of talk.

Nothing happens after the pronoun check-ins and the icebreakers. It's rare we make sure that people's immediate needs are addressed. There's no kindness. You have people show up to meetings hungry, or needing rides home, and watching those with means freeze when asked to help.

As we begin to 'get back a sense of normalcy' or 're-calibrate' to what people in Blue States™ think is Right™ and Just™, I want us to keep in mind the difference between Niceness and Kindness. If something sounds nice, doesn't mean that it's kind."

Of course, there are genuinely kind and surface nice people everywhere you go, so no one should take these observations as a personal affront to them individually. Generalizations that lead to stereotypes are inherently problematic, and broad strokes like "East coast" and "West coast" are also somewhat meaningless, so they should taken with a grain of salt as well.

In reality, a small town in South Carolina is probably more culturally similar to a small town in Eastern Oregon than it is to New York City, and there are some strong differences between various subregions as well. A more specific cultural comparison, such as "big cities on the West coast vs. big cities in the Northeast" might be more accurate as far as generalizations go, but regardless, many people related to Green's observations based on their own experiences.

To kick things off, a slew of responses poured in from people describing how New Yorkers can be cold on the surface while simultaneously reaching out their hand to help you.

Several people explained that the hustle required to afford the expense of living in New York explains why people skip the niceties. It's about valuing people's time; wasting it with nice words is ruder than just quickly helping out and then moving on.

Many people chimed in with agreement with the original post (even some Canadians confirming that their East/West differences aligned with ours).

"No sense of urgency" is definitely a West coast vibe, but is generally viewed a positive out here. And "inconveniencing everyone around them" might be a subjective observation. Maybe.

Plenty of people with bicoastal experience weighed in with their stories of how their experiences lined up with the basic premise of the thread, though.

Though certainly not universally true, the tendency for West coasters to be more hands-off might extend back to the frontier days. The pioneer and gold rush mindset was necessarily individualistic and self-sufficient. In my experience, West coasters assume you don't need help unless you directly ask for it. But people don't ask because of the individualistic and self-sufficient thing, so automatic helpfulness just hasn't become part of the dominant culture.

Things got even more interesting once the South and Midwest entered the chat.

But the takes on warm/nice/kind thing varied quite a bit.

One thing that seems quite clear if you read through the various responses to the thread is that specific states and cities seem to have their own cultures that don't break down as simply as East/West/Midwest/South. There's an entire book about how the U.S. can actually be subdivided into 11 different regions that are almost like nations unto themselves. Even this map from 1940 included 34 different cultural regions in the U.S.

And don't even get a Californian started on the differences between Northern CA, Southern CA, and the Central Valley. "Culture" can even be narrowed down even to specific neighborhoods, and people's experiences and perceptions vary for all kinds of reasons, so once again, generalizations only go so far before they fall flat.

If you're curious about what the data says about all of this, a cursory search of surveys about which states are the kindest brings up a fairly mixed bag, but people seem to find Minnesota quite friendly. A Wallethub ranking of charitability by state based on 19 factors including volunteerism also placed Minnesota at number one, followed by Utah, Maryland, Oregon, and Ohio. Pretty hard to make a regional generalization with those states.

Then again, there's the whole "Minnesota nice" thing, which brings us full circle back to the original thread.

So many elements go into the culture of a place, from population density to the history of settlement to the individual personalities of the people who make someplace their home. And nothing is set in stone—the atmosphere of a place can change over time, as anyone who's visited a city a decade or two apart can attest.

One thing that's true, no matter where we live, is that we play a role in molding the culture of our immediate surroundings. If we want where we live to be friendlier, we can be friendlier ourselves. If we want to see people help one another, we can serve as that example. We might stand out, but we also might inspire others who yearn for the same thing.

"Be the change" might seem a bit cliche, but it truly is the key to shifting or world in the way we want it to go, no matter what part of the country—or the world—we live in.


This article originally appeared on 01.22.21

Sandhya with other members at a home meet-up

South Asian women across the country are finding social support in a thriving Facebook group devoted to them.

The Little Brown Diary has over 40,000 members, primarily between the ages of 20 and 40, and 100 subgroups devoted to niche topics. Some of these include mental health, entrepreneurship, career advice, and more.

Members of the group can discuss their experiences as South Asians, inner conflicts they face, and even bond over their favorite hobbies. The Facebook group has become a safe place for many of its members to find support in the most transformative periods of their lives. These include:

  • Supporting women in domestic violence and sexual assault circumstances
  • Sharing mental health and suicide resources
  • Connecting members to support each other through grief and loss
  • Helping members find the strength to get a divorce or defend their decision to be childfree
  • Helping them navigate career changes
  • Helping to find friends in a new city
  • Finding a community of other neurodivergent people in their shoes

“I joined the online community because I was looking for that sense of belonging and connection with others who shared similar experiences and backgrounds,” expressed Sandhya Simhan, one of the group admins.

“At the time, I was pregnant and eager to find other desi moms who could offer support, advice, and friendship during this significant life transition,” she says.

Another group admin, Henna Wadhwa, who works in Diversity and Inclusion in Washington, D.C., even uses the group to inspire new areas of research, including a study on ethnic-racial identity at work.

“I was surprised and excited for a group that brought together South Asian/brown women. I wanted to meet other women with similar research interests and who wanted to conduct academic research on South Asian American women,” Wadhwa says.


While social media isn’t always the best place to spend our time, studies show that the sense of community people get from joining online groups can be valuable to our mental health.

“The presence of LBD has allowed so many South Asian women to truly feel safe in their identity. The community we have built encourages each person to authentically and freely be themselves. It is a powerful sight to witness these South Asian women be vulnerable, break barriers, and support each other in their journeys,” says Wadhwa.

Hena and Neesha

According to an article in Psychology Today, a study on college students looked at whether social media could serve as a source of social support in times of stress. Turns out, these students were more likely to turn to their social media network rather than parents or mental health professionals for connection. The anonymity of virtual communities was also seen as appealing to those experiencing depression.

“The social support received in the online group promotes a sense of well-being and was associated with positive relationships and personal growth,” the article states.

This is why finding a community of like-minded individuals online can have such a positive impact in your life.

“There are almost half a million women in our target audience (millennial South Asians in North America) and about 10% of them are part of LBD. It’s been a game-changer for our community. LBD is all about embracing your true self and living your most authentic life. It's amazing to see how the members support, relate, learn, and lift each other,” says Wadhwa and Simhan.

Pop Culture

'Britain's Got Talent' contestant blew Simon Cowell away singing a song he 'hates'

Her heartfelt version of "Tomorrow" brought people to tears—and completely changed Simon's tune.

Sydnie Christmas nailed her rendition of "Tomorrow" from "Annie"

Contestants on "Britain's Got Talent" (as well as "American Idol" and "America's Got Talent") have long feared Simon Cowell's judgment, so imagine auditioning with a song choice that automatically brings out his sour side.

That's what contestant Sydnie Christmas did when she chose to sing "Tomorrow" from the musical "Annie," which is Simon Cowell's least favorite song. But much to everyone's surprise, she totally blew him away with her beautiful soulful rendition, causing him to change his tune.

Before performing, Christmas bounded onto the stage with her genuine smile and spunky energy, which endeared her to the judges and audience immediately. She even cracked a joke about her middle name being "Mary" (Sydnie Mary Christmas would be quite the name choice) and got everyone laughing with her.


However, when she announced she'd be singing "Tomorrow," Cowell winced and the other judges groaned.

"That is Simon's worst song," warned judge Amanda Holden.

But when Christmas, who works as a receptionist at a gym, began to sing, it soon became clear that this wasn't an ordinary rendition of the musical classic. Soulful, heartfelt, sad but hopeful, she built the song up bit by bit, bringing the audience along with her on an emotional ride.

Watch:

Not only did she get the coveted Golden Buzzer, but she also managed to get Simon Cowell to say he now loves the song he said he'd hated just minutes before. Viewers loved it, too.

"That was the first time I could take this song serious. Before today I hated it, too," wrote one person.

"When they say you have to make the song your own, she did just that. I have never heard a better version," wrote another.

"Absolutely beautiful; love how the word “tomorrow” always sounded unique EVERY TIME! Listened over and over…" added another.

"I've heard that song a million times and she REALLY got the poignancy of it," shared another. "It is a sad song, but a song of hope, and it is hard to walk that line and she KILLED IT. It's not just about her voice, it is how she sold that song."

She even pulled in people from various walks of life, moving them with her performance:

"I'm a 60 year old highway worker. Just got off work and my wife sent this to me. What I'm trying to figure out is who's been cutting onions in my vehicle? Seriously, teared me up. This took me COMPLETELY off guard and I am so delighted to have experienced this diamond!"

"41 year old hip hop head here and never did I think I would be touched like this. The sound of suffering with a glimmer of hope in the sound. Who is cutting onions at this time."

"I’m a 60 year old builder sitting in my van having lunch. I just watched this. The guys in the next van are taking the P coz I’m crying my eyes out! Brilliant!"

As someone named Annie, I've had "Tomorrow" sung to me countless times over the years, so I shared Simon Cowell's initial grimace upon hearing what she was going to sing. But I too was moved by Christmas's performance and gained a whole new appreciation for the song after her gorgeous rendition. Not an easy feat. What a delightful surprise for us all.

Images provided by P&G

Three winners will be selected to receive $1000 donated to the charity of their choice.

True

Doing good is its own reward, but sometimes recognizing these acts of kindness helps bring even more good into the world. That’s why we’re excited to partner with P&G again on the #ActsOfGood Awards.

The #ActsOfGood Awards recognize individuals who actively support their communities. It could be a rockstar volunteer, an amazing community leader, or someone who shows up for others in special ways.

Do you know someone in your community doing #ActsOfGood? Nominate them between April 24th-June 3rdhere.Three winners will receive $1,000 dedicated to the charity of their choice, plus their story will be highlighted on Upworthy’s social channels. And yes, it’s totally fine to nominate yourself!

We want to see the good work you’re doing and most of all, we want to help you make a difference.

While every good deed is meaningful, winners will be selected based on how well they reflect Upworthy and P&G’s commitment to do #ActsOfGood to help communities grow.

That means be on the lookout for individuals who:

Strengthen their community

Make a tangible and unique impact

Go above and beyond day-to-day work

The #ActsOfGood Awards are just one part of P&G’s larger mission to help communities around the world to grow. For generations, P&G has been a force for growth—making everyday products that people love and trust—while also being a force for good by giving back to the communities where we live, work, and serve consumers. This includes serving over 90,000 people affected by emergencies and disasters through the Tide Loads of Hope mobile laundry program and helping some of the millions of girls who miss school due to a lack of access to period products through the Always #EndPeriodPoverty initiative.

Visit upworthy.com/actsofgood and fill out the nomination form for a chance for you or someone you know to win. It takes less than ten minutes to help someone make an even bigger impact.

@breatheintransformation/TikTok

Such a simple—and fun—way to add in daily self care

Work-life balance is a popular phrase thrown around these days, and certainly, with all the benefits it can add to our sense of purpose and wellbeing, it’s something worth striving towards.

But integrating the concept into our lives…that’s another story.

Before you know it, 12 hours of busywork have flown by, leaving us too exhausted to do anything for ourselves. And now, on top of the fatigue, we have the guilt of not doing that hour-long workout or thirty minute meditation or whatever else we know could help us feel fulfilled, if only we had time. Because the sad truth is—our current society makes it very easy to put our personal needs on the backburner in the name of productivity.

On the upside—taking even the smallest personal breaks can make a world of difference. And Trina Merz, a Hawaii-based holistic healing practitioner, recently shared the simple, yet powerful way that she and a friend created to remember their self care.


In a video posted to her TikTok, @breatheintransformation, Merz shared that whenever she and her friend carved out a small personal activity during a full work day, they’d call it “saving the day.”

For Merz, that often looked like catching a surf, calling her mom, or making a delicious meal. “One thing that reclaims the day as our own,” she explained in the clip.

And to hold each other accountable, they would ask each other how they saved the day. “It became this fun thing that we used to just casually talk about all the time,” she said.

Merz went on to affirm that "there's honestly so many ways you can save the day, and it doesn't have to be a huge time commitment. It could even be just making a cup of tea and cozying up with one of your favorite books; anything that makes the day feel like you had some space in it again."

@breatheintransformation Save the day. Everyday. #savetheday #careeradviceforwomen #corporategirlies #stressrelief ♬ original sound - trina 🕊️ work-life harmony

There’s just so much about this that works. For one thing, adding the phrase “saving the day” makes you feel like a superhero (and, let’s be real, main character energy is totally healthy sometimes). But also there’s the sharing with a friend aspect, which Merz told Upworthy is "such an impactful part of this practice not only for accountability…but because when our energy comes together it expands and inspires each other, adding fuel to the flame of seeing the positives in our lives."

As one viewer rightfully commented, “This is the healthiest lifestyle tip I’ve seen in a while."

Lots of folks requested some more examples of “saving the day,” and Mez happily obliged. Here’s a small sampling of what she listed in a follow-up video:

Blowing bubbles

Taking a walk or run outside

Making rituals out of special treats—using a special plate with a fancy piece of chocolate, for example.

Reading a book or article you find interesting

Getting a pedicure or a massage

Enjoying a crossword

Taking a dance break

Walking barefoot in the grass

Doing anything with a good friend

And of course, you are free to create your own “Save The Day” list. Share it with a friend, and see how it affects your week.

Five women hold their bellies in a baby shower photo.

Getting married and having a child is a huge life change and so when a group of friends goes through the same experience together, it’s a great way to bond. Unfortunately, for some people, these changes on the domestic front can take over their lives and become their entire personality.

People who are single and aren’t looking to have kids any time soon can have a hard time relating to their friends who are married with children because they have less in common. Further, when you don’t have children, it can be a little tedious to hear people talk all day about lactation, sleep schedules and spitting up.

These topics can be boring to people who have children, too.


A Redditor who goes by Remarkable_Lake410, who we’ll call RL for brevity’s sake, recently ran into this problem with her friends. Instead of feigning interest in married mom life, she decided to be honest with them about why she didn’t want to join them on a trip.

child-free woman, Reddit, writing post

A woman writing a post on Reddit.

via Magnet.me/Unsplash

“I (27F) have a group of female friends (8 of us). We have been friends for over a decade, since school. Now, we don’t live in the same place, but we meet up a couple of times a year for a weekend on an Airbnb. This used to be a weekend of good food, drinks, hot tub, etc.” she wrote on the AITH forum.

“Around five of my friends are either married or in very long-term relationships. Of these five, two either have a baby or are pregnant. I will be seeing all of my friends this year for various wedding, friend and baby events. I have been invited to this year's girls' trip, but I have said I can’t come. I didn’t originally provide a reason,” she continued.

But a friend pushed her to find out why she didn’t want to go on the trip and she was honest: She didn’t want to be stuck constantly hearing about babies, marriage and weddings on a trip that was going to cost a significant amount of money.

“[Last time], I listened to one of my friends talk about her breastfeeding plans, with vengeance, for over an hour. She is not pregnant or trying. Truthfully, it’s boring, and it feels dismissive,” RL wrote. It’s also a really expensive way to feel bad about myself.”

When her friend heard her reason, she was “really hurt,” and it felt like RL didn’t care about her and her other friends. So, RL asked the Reddit forum if she was in the wrong for being honest and skipping a trip that would be all about marriage and babies.

The post received over 4,000 responses that were overwhelmingly supportive for RL.

"On the surface, this seems like it’s just about engagements, weddings and babies. You go out of your way to be constantly supportive of them. However they don’t reciprocate that for you. They can’t relate to anything or want to relate to anything outside of their lives. It would sort of be like if you just won an award, but all they talked about was the pie they just ate that morning," Dependant_praline_93 wrote in the most popular comment.

"We all change as we get older. You naturally drift apart from some friends, especially if their lifestyle changes dramatically (think married with children, in particular). I wouldn't want to spend a lot of money to spend 3 days with a group that had such dis-similar interests. And I don't think it was wrong to be truthful when your friend asked you why you wouldn't go," Smokin_HOT_Ice added.

baby, happy couple, baby photo

A couple holds their newborn baby.

via Magnet.Me/Unsplash

One commenter with kids has a close friend who is a child-free and she has made an effort to ask her about her life and interests of just talking about parenting.

“I was 38 when I had my first child and I read an article in Working Mother magazine when I was pregnant, and it said not to be the jerk who always talks about your pregnancy and your baby to your friends, especially the ones without babies,” JellyBear135 wrote. “When I see her, I always ask about her work, her activities outside of work and recently, her new baby dog. She lives alone and doesn’t have a lot of people who always ask about her life so I make sure I always do. I check in via text every couple of weeks to ask her about her life.”

After receiving a huge response from her post, RL wrote an update revealing that another friend who’s in the same boat decided not to go on the trip as well. “I have spoken to one of my other friends invited on the trip (who is also not at the baby stage of life); she is also not going on the trip and said she is not attending for the same reason,” RL wrote.

It seems the big takeaway from RL’s dilemma isn’t just that stage-of-life changes such as marriage and having babies can create chasms in friendships. But we need to make sure that we’re not just talking about ourselves to our friends but listening to them as well. Because a one-way friendship isn’t a friendship at all.

Some people having polite conversation at a party.

Does the following scenario make you feel anxious? You are in line at Target, and someone behind you recognizes you from an old job you had and asks, "How are you?” and you reply, “Fine.” Then, both of you stare at each other for 10 seconds, waiting for someone to say something next.

Sherry Amatenstein, LCSW, suggests that before we answer the question, we should attempt to ascertain if the person we’re talking to really wants to know. Are they being pleasant or just trying to make small talk? If you think they want to see how you’re doing, feel free to disclose what’s happening in your life.

But if it’s just a stop-and-chat or you don’t know the person you’re talking to, then it’s fine to respond with a clever response that may elicit a chuckle or spread some goodwill without telling them your life story. You can easily replay with a "Fine, how are you?" and put the conversational ball back in their court.


However, if you are looking for a more clever response, a Redditor who goes by Myloceratops crowd-sourced the best answers to the big question and received over 900 responses. Most of them were witty comebacks to the question that we can all tuck into our pack pockets to use when we want to see more interesting than someone who just gives a pat “fine” response.

Here are 17 of the best responses to someone asking, “How are you?” for you to use the next time you're making small talk.

1.

"I have two stock answers: Not too bad. Distinctly average." — Floydie1962.

2.

"Saw a shirt I loved: 'The horrors persist, as do I.'" — Evilbunnyfoofoo

3.

"I kinda like the Norwegian, 'Up and not crying."' — 5tr4nGe

4.

"Dying a little more every day." — Much-Signifigance212

5.

"Do you really want to know?" — Hatjepoet

6.

"In my country, people sometimes say 'Kann nie genug klagen.' It’s roughly translated to 'I can’t complain enough.'" — OldProblemsNeverDie

7.

"'I'm on the right side of the dirt' is one of my go-to responses." — JiveTurkeyJunction

8.

"Feeling good and looking better I’ll make a burlap sack feel like the cashmere sweater." — Late_Review_8761

9.

"It's a dog-eat-dog world and I'm wearing Milk-Bone underwear." — 27_crooked_craibu

10.

"If I was any better, there would be two of me." — not_that_rick

11.

"At work, it's 'Better by the hour.'"— Otherwise-Tune5413

12.

"'Oh you know, living the dream' is the only one I’ve got ready to go lately." — KittyBooBoo2016

13.

"Busier than a one-legged cat trying to bury a sh** in a frozen pond." — SpoonNZ

14.

"''I think I’m going to make it' usually gets a chuckle." — Bebandy

15.

"“Im good, and you?' I’m Gen X. I don’t burden other people with my problems." — Mrbootz

16.

"My next complaint will be my first complaint." — NoGood

17.

"'I feel like a silly goose today!'Guarantee they’ll never try to make small talk with you ever again." — Front-Craft-804

Pop Culture

How GeoGuessr pros can pinpoint any place in the world just from a Google street image

Sometimes it's literally just a field, and they can tell you within a handful of miles where it is on the globe.

Photo by Josh Sorenson/Pexels (left) Canva (right)

Can you tell where in the world this is?

Imagine someone handing you a photo of a random street corner, neighborhood or field anywhere in the world and expecting you to know where it is. Occasionally, you might get lucky and see a sign or a landmark that gives a helpful clue, but chances are good that all you'd have to go from is some vegetation and maybe a building or two to guess from. We live in a huge world—seems impossible, right?

But that's often all that GeoGuessr pros need to be able to tell you in seconds where on the globe the image came from, often within just a handful of miles.


When Swedish IT consultant Anton Wallén launched the GeoGuessr app in 2013, he surely didn't expect it to launch an entire global esport phenomenon. It was just a fun game to be dropped somewhere on the globe and try to guess where you are. But thanks to the pandemic forcing people to travel virtually for a while, it took viral hold as a competitive game in 2021. Now there's even a GeoGuessr World Cup championship, and it's a wild ride to watch.

In fact, these players are so fast at pinpointing locations based on photos that would have most of us scratching our heads, saying, "Heck, that could be anywhere," it's almost hard to watch. Check out even just a minute or so of these highlights:

One of the most popular Geoguessr players on social media is Trevor Rainbolt, one of the hosts of the 2023 GeoGuessr World Cup. While he says he's not as good as some of the other pros, his TikTok account has 2.7 million followers and he consistently demonstrates his ability to find anything on the planet based on an outdoor photo. Literally anything, anywhere.

Rainbolt explained to WIRED some of the tools and tricks of the Geoguessr trade, and it's both incredibly impressive and surprisingly mundane. Obviously, when there are street signs visible that offers a huge clue, but players learn details about every element of different countries' landscapes, from telephone poles to vegetation the way lines are painted on the street to what garbage bins look like in different cities. They even get so specific as the color and texture of soils.

Watch Rainbolt explain:

Geoguessr players educate themselves using Google Maps so thoroughly that they are able to piece together every tiny clue to make an educated guess about where an image comes from. But it's the speed with which the pros make their guesses that's so mesmerizing—the result of years of learning and practice, just like any other highly developed skill.

If this all seems a bit pointless (though one could argue there's always a point to knowing where you are), there are actually some really heartwarming things that have come out of the "geonerd" world. For instance, a woman had a photo of her mom, but zero other information about her. Rainbolt was able to pinpoint the exact location the photo was taken, giving the woman a clue into her own past.

@georainbolt

this one felt good #geo #geoguessr #geography #geowizard

And another similar request yielded similar results:

🫶

Sometimes people's requests are even more challenging, and yet Rainbolt manages to find locations with remarkable accuracy.

@georainbolt

road matching #geo #geography #geowizard #geoguessr #ReadySetLift

People often tell him he should be hired by the CIA or FBI, and for sure that seems plausible. But what's great about what he does is that he explains exactly how he does it. It just takes countless hours over years and years to get to know the planet as well as he and other Geoguessr pros know it.

Anyone can play—just download the GeoGuessr app or play online and give it a go. Fair warning, though. It's not nearly as easy as these guys make it look.

Highly recommend following @georainbolt to watch more.