It all begins with a tweet from comedian Alison Leiby waxing rhapsodic about New York City's bodegas.
"People who live outside of NYC and don't have bodegas:" she wrote, "where do you go to buy two Diet Cokes, a roll of paper towels, and oh also lemme get some peanut butter m&ms since I'm here, why not."
For those of us not from NYC, a bodega is a corner store. If I'm not mistaken, bodegas are a bit less like 7-11 chain stores and more like unique, locally owned and operated mom-and-pop shops, but basically a one-stop store for all your basic needs. Debate ensued about whether or not bodegas really are special, or just another name for a convenience or grocery store. Apparently, bodegas often have cats living in them, so that's a thing.
But something else interesting came out of the discussion—a whole thread about stereotypes of various American states and regions, and it is at once entertaining and eye-opening.
It starts with a biting stereotype about Appalachia shared by writer Sean Thomason. "When I tell people I'm from Appalachia they ask me about incest and if we've got shoes yet." Not a surprising jab, but still pretty awful.
I'm sorry New Yorkers had to deal with some jokes about the bodega thing. When I tell people I'm from Appalachia th… https://t.co/GVBngpdVaE— Sean Thomason (@Sean Thomason) 1606848365.0
Then people started sharing their own experiences with assumptions and jokes about their home states, and it's pretty fascinating. Having lived in eight different states myself, I've seen firsthand how many stereotypes are totally exaggerated (most) and how many are actually based in reality (always fun to find).
Let's just start with the elephant in the room—Florida.
@DoctorB99 @TheThomason ok, but in this one example, Florida deserves it— Kevin Hanes (@Kevin Hanes) 1606927764.0
Poor Florida gets a lot of flack for being Florida, but Floridians seem to take it in stride.
@genkiclytie @TheThomason The best part about this is that Florida is essentially three different states (panhandle… https://t.co/cTKWVzdOJh— Father John Miss Me With The BS (@Father John Miss Me With The BS) 1606891271.0
New Jersey, as it turns out, actually has greenery and not everyone is in the mafia. Who knew?
@TheThomason Also general shock & amazement that I grew up with trees around. Interestingly, the state actually is not Newark airport.— SarcasmShenanagins (@SarcasmShenanagins) 1606877375.0
Oregon actually does live up to some of its stereotypes. I've often joked about how Portlandia is only a slight exaggeration of what Portland is like. (Don't get me wrong, I love it there—but it's definitely quirky.)
However, as this person points out, there's also some surprising realities about Oregon that you don't hear about as much. Like that it was founded as a utopia for racists who wanted an all-white place to live.
@TheThomason We're all the cliches that horrible show said we were all about, except when you go to south -- or eas… https://t.co/uFLFDK6I6l— Nemo. (@Nemo.) 1606874418.0
Mississippi has it rough, unfortunately, thanks to actual statistics.
@StaceyJSpiehler @TheThomason Arkansas born and raised. All of my teachers inevitably said “Thank God for Mississip… https://t.co/uaHkLNoGcj— jeff probst's sweaty balls (@jeff probst's sweaty balls) 1606876715.0
Though some of those statistics are actually surprising, like its high vaccination rates.
@rose_sinister @topherpayne @TheThomason MS is 1 of 2 states that doesn't grant exemptions for faith or parental co… https://t.co/GqlqJEFmxd— Adrienne (@Adrienne) 1606882955.0
Some states, like Minnesota and North Dakota, get a lot of comments about their accents. (Accents are one of those things that I always assumed were exaggerated until I lived in different places and was delighted to find out Whoa, people really do talk like that here!)
@MsJezebelJones @TheThomason Also, “How much snow ya got up der?” Sir, it is July.— Steph🌲Staying Home For The Holidays🌲 (@Steph🌲Staying Home For The Holidays🌲) 1606918214.0
West Virginia has a socioeconomic reputation that isn't accurate for everyone who lives there. (Though there is something to be said for the low cost of living.)
@Pattieod @TheThomason Yeah, but an "actual mansion" in WV probably costs about $30K.— Tim Leonard (@Tim Leonard) 1606861360.0
And as this person pointed out, some people might want to look in their own backyard before making jokes about another.
@TheThomason From WV, live in MD. When I get the incest jokes I usually point out that first cousin marriage is not… https://t.co/Y9L1Wg8HX0— Les Elkins (@Les Elkins) 1606884770.0
Kansas has had eight decades of "Wizard of Oz" references to contend with.
@WaywardGorilla @TheThomason I had a grad school classmate from Kansas who showed up on the first day wearing ruby… https://t.co/wdCMvBMpKV— Tyler End Qualified Immunity (@Tyler End Qualified Immunity) 1606878636.0
And the Lone Star State is certainly more than horses and guns. (Though several Texans joked about the gun stereotypes being true. Texas gonna Texas.)
@TheThomason I've also been asked how many guns I own, and it's like, what, just because I'm from Texas you think I… https://t.co/f8eJFV3s7G— *casts Glibness* (@*casts Glibness*) 1606922731.0
I lived in Iowa for a while, so I know the pig farm references are rooted in the fact that there are a whole lot of farms in the state. And the mall with the ice rink? Yeah, everyone knows that mall.
@Chig78 @TheThomason @BillCorbett the only time i ever went to iowa was to play hockey on an ice rink in a shopping… https://t.co/FbuGr49Huy— 🏳️🌈 cyndi 🏳️🌈 (@🏳️🌈 cyndi 🏳️🌈) 1606856089.0
The bigger issue is the confusion between Iowa, Idaho, and Ohio. I've been to each of those states and can attest that they bear little resemblance to one another and aren't anywhere near one another, but that doesn't stop people from mixing them up.
@SoozleMcDoozle @TheThomason Idaho? Corn right?— Debi Obrien (@Debi Obrien) 1606931427.0
Ah, Utah. A stunningly gorgeous state with incredible National Parks and otherworldly landscapes that prompts people to immediately conjure up pictures of polygamy.
@TheThomason @MrSmithInDC I'm in Utah, and I agree. As do all 14 of my sister wives. Because our husband said we could.— Hobie-wan-kenobi, our only hope (@Hobie-wan-kenobi, our only hope) 1606885951.0
Does Oklahoma have tornadoes? Yes. Is that all Oklahoma has? Don't think so.
@RapidsLurker15 @TheThomason But, tbf, tornadoes ARE a constant threat there. I helped clean up after Moore 2013 (b… https://t.co/YVOPPxU8nF— Cassandrus (@Cassandrus) 1606898480.0
Sarah Palin did a bang-up job of creating her own category of Alaska jokes, but being so far north, people are often surprised to find out that the climate of Alaska actually varies quite a bit and isn't all snowy all the time.
@alaska_born @TheThomason Also from Alaska... would add the cracks about pet polar bears and seein’ Russia from my backyard— Katie Lay (@Katie Lay) 1606886686.0
Hawaii is definitely unique among states, but not as unique as some people might assume. They do use American money. Because, you know, it's America.
California is interesting in that it's almost like it's own country in many ways. It's incredibly huge and incredibly diverse. Some stereotypes about some areas do hold water, though as this person pointed out, those stereotypes aren't generally seen as negative.
And yes, we do see California a lot in movies and TV so a lot of it feels familiar, but it's worth noting that not all parts of California are like L.A.
@TiffanyKWayne @TheThomason Yeah, I feel like the stereotypes about CA are pretty spot-on since we're where they ma… https://t.co/VtEgqzuFsj— Beth Heise (@Beth Heise) 1606930105.0
On the flip side, we rarely see anything or anyone from Wyoming, to the point where the main jokes are about whether or not people even live there. (Having driven through it several times, Wyoming is full of pristine landscapes and not a lot of people. But the cities and towns that are there are just as developed as anywhere else.)
@danbowcutt @TheThomason Theres a reason why "does Wyoming exist" is a popular search term. Great Big Empty. Which… https://t.co/tkpr01eFyT— 🌬 Flāming ☄həllscape w a Cat 😻 (@🌬 Flāming ☄həllscape w a Cat 😻) 1606895670.0
The whole thread was an interesting exercise in acknowledging stereotypes, celebrating different state identities, and recognizing that what we imagine different states and regions can't capture the complexity of those places or the people who live there.
@TheThomason It's so interesting to me how the divide in this country between urban and rural runs so deep—and yet… https://t.co/fLZrow7FGB— Amanda Vink (@Amanda Vink) 1606918956.0
There are things to love and things to not love every place you live. And the United States really is like a big patchwork quilt of cultures and quirks that make each part of it unique. Amanda Vink wrote, "Reading these comments, I get the feeling most people just want to be proud of where they're from." It's true, and a good thing to remember when we feel tempted to make jokes about different places.
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