SkyscraperCity banner

Is "midwest nice" true of the midwest?

  • Yes, but in certain cities

    Votes: 12 63.2%
  • No

    Votes: 7 36.8%
1 - 20 of 46 Posts

·
Blame it on...
Joined
·
335 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Have you heard of the phrase "Midwest nice?" If so, is this a true statement about this area?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
242 Posts
I've never heard that particular turn of phrase, but I've heard many an east coast person describe people as "midwest," when they weren't talking about a point of origin. It's usually a description delivered with a degree of condescension and/or dismissiveness. East coasters use the term to describe people, who unlike them, are not loud, aggressively opinionated, abrasive, in-your-face, and confrontational. And yes, all of that is generally true of midwesterners.

I'm from the west coast orginally, but went to college in Chicago at a school where half of the students were from the midwest, and probably 35% were from the east coast. This is the situation in which I first started hearing the term "midwest" being used by east coast kids, as I described it above. I continued to hear it from east coast transplants I encountered in the Chicago workplace later on. It took awhile to figure out they were just talking about people who, from my point of view, were just nice, normal people.
 

·
born again cyclist
Joined
·
3,671 Posts
i've lived in the midwest my whole life, and i've met a crap load of douche bag assholes along the way, so no, not everyone in the midwest is nice. perhaps people aree nicer in general, but you'll find that pricks are in copious supply everywhere human beings live.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
14 Posts
The term that is used quite a lot (and with seriousness) in my area is "Minnesota nice." Guess what state I live in :) But of course there is an ongoing discourse as to whether it is true, but I am of the belief that it's a load of cr*p. I grew up in Wisconsin, and have lived my adult life in Minnesota. Both these states were originally settled predominantly by Northern Europeans (Scandinavia, Germany, Poland, etc), so there are certain personality traits that are quite common (and of course different from the east coast).

I think the "nice" part of the phrase is, in actuality, an aloofness and stoicism -- the desire to avoid conflict, and therefore avoid eye contact with strangers. People are superficially "nice" to strangers because it's more convenient. Hope I don't sound too cynical here, because I do love Minnesota. And of course, the people are truly nice once you get to know them. It's just that if you're a stranger or outsider, chances are it'll take you a while to be accepted.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
168 Posts
The word I've come to associate with Midwestern culture is "judgemental". Now that I live in Canada (which is like the American Midwest spread from coast to coast), my impression is only reinforced.

"Uptight" is another applicable term.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
299 Posts
i've lived in the midwest my whole life, and i've met a crap load of douche bag assholes along the way, so no, not everyone in the midwest is nice. perhaps people aree nicer in general, but you'll find that pricks are in copious supply everywhere human beings live.

Steely, maybe you need to get away from angry Chicagoans that are STILL angry about the Superbowl, or Indy fans that live there...

LOL I am so kidding.

Anywhere you find a populous city, there are bound to be assholes. It's human nature. I have been to both coasts (LA, NYC, San Fran, etc.) but I have found that people in the midwest are MUCH nicer. Just my experience.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
892 Posts
I've never heard "Midwest nice" but I have heard people from the E. Coast compliment us on how nice people in this area are compared to back east. I wouldn't say they were being condescending either and I don't know why they would be. I went to college with a couple guys from the DC area and they noticed a huge difference in how people treated each other here (more respect, nicer) as opposed to in DC and the East in general. So "Midwest nice" is fine with me. :)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
254 Posts
^Yeah, in terms of being nice, I have no problem with it. People from coastal areas have a tendency to put the Midwest as "behind the times" or out of date based on media stereotypes. That is where the condescending aspect comes into play in my opinion. People on the East are just as ignorant as people anywhere else and assume the media portrayel must be accurate because it is the only news they get on the region. However, I must admit, the media has started to back off quite a bit with stereotyping the midwest. I have seen a lot of articles lately on Minneapolis being a major center for arts despite popular belief where the author is stunned at how up to date we really are...I think the same is true with pretty much every major midwestern city.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
168 Posts
Even though I've discovered myself to be culturally and temperamentally incompatible with the Midwest I don't think it's a bad place to be. I've plenty of friends who have relocated to the Midwest who really love it (Milwaukee in particular seems to get an undeserved bad rap imo).

But I lived in the Midwest briefly (albeit many years ago) and I've known enough Midwest transplants to the Coasts: and now that I'm living in Canada, which strikes me as remarkably similar to the Midwest culturally, I've sorted out in my mind what "Midwestern nice" is—and it's really as much a matter of semantics as perception.

There's a difference between being "nice" or "polite" (the word Americans use for the ice-blooded Canadians) and being "friendly". In my experience, Canadians and Midwesterners often tend to retreat behind the façade of being "nice" to mask harsh (and frequently shallow) judgements of people who don't fit the mould of what they consider "acceptable". On the Coasts we may be less "diplomatic" from your point of view, but at least you know where you stand with us—plus I've just known Coasters (especially West Coasters) to be a little more open-minded and willing to give you the benefit of the doubt until you screw up instead of having to "prove yourself worthy" of them when you first meet.

Similarly, from my point of view anyway, there is a huge difference between being "polite" and being "well-mannered". To my mind it's perfectly possible to assert one's self in a completely civilised manner without being "aggressive"—yet, especially here in Canada, I find people who do that often get labelled "rude" or "pushy" by the "polite" types stewing censoriously behind their pursed lips and pinched expressions. Hey, you want to hang back and waste your time that's your business—however, as long as I'm not stepping on anyone's toes why don't you save your anger and resentment for something that actually matters instead of focussing it on people who actually like to display energy and initiative? In general, I think American Midwesterners have more spine in this area than Canadians, but don't take too kindly to people from the Coasts who display this behaviour in your "house".

Obviously, these are gross generalisations, but it's based on my experience of living and travelling on both the Coasts and in the Midwest—and I'll freely admit that perhaps I'm tarring American Midwesterners too heavily with a brush that more readily applies to Canadians. However, I have discovered the same genre of cultural incompatibility here in Canada as I did when I lived in the Midwest, so perhaps your overall "style" isn't that different.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
455 Posts
I've heard minnesota nice a lot... my geography professor is from cali and he claims its true, he said college students cheat a lot less up here too... that or we are just better at not getting caught :banana:
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
168 Posts
Well, to test your theory: Do youse get fewer speeding tickets too? Do you have many illegal immigrants and/or a large underground economy?

One thing I've noticed here in Canada is that there is practically nothing in terms of "under the table" work as compared to the US. I used to be able to make a good percentage of my income in Cali in the undeclared category (it's practically de rigeur in an expensive place like SF or LA), but not here. Too many people are spooked at getting caught by Revenue Canada—though they claim that it's because Canadians prefer to "follow the rules", unlike us anarchic Americans (sheer hypocrisy, that—it's fear that motivates them, I guarantee you).

If you can't name numerous people around you who are breaking rules with impunity then I'll hazard a guess that there is a lot less cheating in your part of the world—and those who do are mighty crafty. As I insinuated in my previous post, the whole "nice" thing throws us Coasters off of your more "evil" tendencies . . . :)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
338 Posts
There's a difference between being "nice" or "polite" (the word Americans use for the ice-blooded Canadians) and being "friendly".
Interesting observation on the Canadians. From my experience with Canada I did notice this too, while in Toronto. Polite, but cool.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
662 Posts
The term that is used quite a lot (and with seriousness) in my area is "Minnesota nice." Guess what state I live in :) But of course there is an ongoing discourse as to whether it is true, but I am of the belief that it's a load of cr*p. I grew up in Wisconsin, and have lived my adult life in Minnesota. Both these states were originally settled predominantly by Northern Europeans (Scandinavia, Germany, Poland, etc), so there are certain personality traits that are quite common (and of course different from the east coast).

I think the "nice" part of the phrase is, in actuality, an aloofness and stoicism -- the desire to avoid conflict, and therefore avoid eye contact with strangers. People are superficially "nice" to strangers because it's more convenient. Hope I don't sound too cynical here, because I do love Minnesota. And of course, the people are truly nice once you get to know them. It's just that if you're a stranger or outsider, chances are it'll take you a while to be accepted.
very interesting observations.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
168 Posts
TwoClubs has a point, I think. In fact, I've been trying to get my mind around the one major exception to the "friendly vibe" of the West Coast: Seattle. I haven't lived there since I was a kid (and only briefly for a work contract as an adult) so I don't have first-hand experience of it, but people there talk of the "Seattle chill": initial friendliness that stops short of actual personal involvement (e.g., the neighbour or work colleague that says "let's get together sometime" but then never follows through or worms their way out of every invitation you throw their way).

I thought it was because Seattle is so close to Canada and because there are many, like myself, with family on both sides of the border. However, I'm inclined to go with the idea that Scandinavian cultural influence has a lot to do with it. I can definitely see it: I spent much of my childhood just North of the Ballard neighbourhood in Seattle. If you don't know Ballard—historically a fishing village—then take as evidence the slogan on all bottles of Ballard Bitter (one of the local microbrews): "Ya, sure, you betcha".
 
1 - 20 of 46 Posts
Top