Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Minnesota Nice? Or Minnesota Ice?

While driving to work the other day, one of our local radio stations ( KQRS ) was the host of a discussion (or debate) about whether Minnesotans should be labeled "Minnesota Nice" or "Minnesota Ice."

Most people across the country have probably never even heard the term "Minnesota Nice," but since I live here, it's of interest to me. So deal with it and read on.
Everyone who called in had moved here from the almighty Coasts (whether it be East or West) expecting to be the most popular kid on the block from day one due to their automatic superiority of gracing we Midwestern hicks with their Coastal (or the Midwestern Saving Grace, Chicago) influence -- added to the fact that, upon moving here, they heard something about we natives being "Minnesota Nice."

The story goes that everyone (in general) is "nice" in Minnesota. As in, we treat everyone like a neighbor or friend with a welcoming, friendly "Hi! How ya doin'?" type demeanor. Or that we display the epitome of "giving the shirt off our backs," and "we treat everyone like we live in a small town" type mentality. (Sidenote: I grew up in small town MN with some of the most mean f'ers you can even imagine - seriously, a few of my HS classmates are in prison now).

Being a native of this state, I guess I'm probably biased, but I can see both sides.

I'd say it's fair to say that most people who move anywhere in Minnesota, whether it be from Alaska, Alabama, Seattle....or just from one area of the state to another.... experience more Minnesota Ice than Minnesota Nice. It doesn't matter if you're moving to Minneapolis....or Duluth....or Crookston....or Dodge Center (small town).....the fact is, we're really only "nice" and welcoming if you come up to us first and say hi. THEN we'll be nice to you. But probably won't call you the next day and invite you our next house/garage/apartment/bonfire party.

Reason: We Minnesotans (and I really suspect that everyone around the world is like this) -- We already have, and have had, our own circle of friends established before you moved to this country / state / area / town/city / neighborhood....It takes meeting you a few times before we'll remember to give a damn who you are or invite you to the next social gathering.

Isn't that the same in Chicago....New York....Seattle....Calcutta?!?

Why are we Minnesotans the ones blamed for being icy instead of nicey?? High expectations, perhaps??

SO --- those of you who move here and expect to be "one of the gang" from day one because you've heard we're supposed to be "Minnesota Nice," just toss that idea out the window and remember what you were like in your own comfort zone before you moved here. In your own neck of the woods, did you automatically invite a new member to your little group outings as soon as s/he said hello?? I doubt it.

FURTHER -- if moving here, or moved here already and disappointed by the fact that you weren't elected neighborhood Homecoming Queen upon arrival -- get over the shock and prepare yourself to be the outgoing life of the party (or just willing to put yourself out there and approach others) if you want to become part of a group.

Okay, now my own objective opinion:

First off, let me say that I use to travel a lot for work…and I’ve done a little leisurely travel too…so, I’m not exactly well-traveled like the rest of my Kennedy brethren, but I’ve been to a few places…AND....I have had the experience of moving from MN to Chicagoland (albeit just for an internship) and from out-state MN to the metro area....

FRIENDLY (in my experience): London, England (or England as a whole): Edinburgh, Scotland (or Scotland as a whole), Boston, Mass.; New York, N.Y.; Hilton Head Isl., SC; Ontario, Can.; Detroit, Mich.; Milwaukee, Wis., Bloomington, Ill; Ocho Rios, Jamaica (the other tourists, not necessarily the locals); La Crosse, Wis.; Madison, Wis.; Winona, Minn.

UNFRIENDLY: Atlanta, Georgia; Dallas, Tex.; Chicago, Ill.; Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minn.; Rochester, Minn.; Springfield, Mass.; and last, but not least, my own hometown of Dodge Center, Minn (well, the whole county).

I don’t need to go into details…it’s just my experience. However, those are the places I’ve been to that come to mind as either being friendly or unfriendly.

I moved to Minneapolis from Rochester, Minn. *gay hell*, in 2004. It really was hard to meet people at first. I even went to bars (gay bars, mind you, where almost everyone thinks they have either a reputation, or an image, or a boyfriend/trick to maintain) alone thinking I might strike up a conversation with someone. Of course, in my mind, I was the semi-cute guy standing there alone. In my former neck of the woods (non-metro, or “out-state” Minnesota), we embraced new-comers with open arms – and maybe more than that – delighted to see a new face in the lonely crowd of small-city gays. I quickly changed my tune. I realized that everyone in Minneapolis / St. Paul already had a group of friends established….and they were all at the bar with them.

So, one night, basically out of frustration, I just started talking to this guy who was standing beside me at the bar waiting for his drink. I declared that all the people (especially gay guys) in Minneapolis sucked. That they were either socially retarded or just plain unfriendly. That led into a conversation….and a hook-up….Anyway, that’s what it took for me to enter the elusive “Minnesota Circle of Friends” cult. After that, this new friend, Bill, and I hung out a few times and I met a few of his friends…and a few of their friends….and a few of their friends. Now, I have my own little group of friends (which includes Bill – as just a friend).

Point being – we can seem unfriendly or cold (or maybe even overtly nice at first), but just like anywhere else in the world…in a new area, you have to make the effort to first, introduce yourself and show your true colors (aka Cyndi Lauper), to enter a new crowd.

And if you’re of the type who’s always lived in the same area, and hung out with the same crowd….Open up your mind and start talking to potential new members of your little clique. You might just have more fun…or get laid….or whatever.

Conclusion --- Fuck Minnesota Nice. We all, as regular people, find it hard to either enter a new comfort zone, or allow someone new into it.

So, there!!


  • YOU TELL 'EM! This makes perfect sense, really. I believe the people this post is directed to are those either too pompous or too stupid to realize that we all control our own destiny, and are each expected to do some some work to reap the benefits in ANY situation, but especially in a new town/job/surrounding. I thought this fact was COMMON SENSE, but then again, you and me were always smarter than most, weren't we, Kiddo? Ha!

    Good to see you back -- and thanks for visiting my site again. If I recall, it took me visiting and commenting on yours to get you over to mine many moons ago. Fancy that, we made a CONNECTION...and it only took a little work and interest to get it. ;o)

    By Blogger AmyD, at 8:56 AM  

  • I grew up as an Army brat and moved every few years. One thing I learned from that is that you always had to make an effort if you want to make friends. I found that Minnesota was no different.

    By Blogger shayze, at 12:29 AM  

  • I grew up in a small town which was somewhat intolerant, but I have never encountered the amount of flakiness that I've experienced in MN, specifically Minneapolis/St. Paul. And you can't fault me for not putting myself out there. I have invited people out, invited people over, went to meet people places all with no success in making it into any social group. People are always either too busy or they never answer their phone/email/myspace/facebook/whatever. I don't know what it is, but this area is so exclusive. I have made friends all over the world, but I can't seem to even bribe someone to hang out w/ me here.

    By Blogger Cablasianic, at 7:55 PM  

  • The question is whether it is hard to make friends *even after* you put yourself out there. I really don't see how your experience proved or disproved anything. How do you know you weren't just lucky? After all, most hookups don't really and aren't meant to lead to quality friendships.

    I have couple friends that told me the opposite even after they made the effort. So don't jump to conclusion so fast.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:26 AM  

  • By Blogger Adi, at 4:39 AM  

  • Ok so this comment is a bit late for your blog but it should tell you something if people are still looking up this topic. I'm from the southwest (AZ, TX, CA) and then moved to the east coast (DC, VA) and then Ohio, where I lived for 6 years before I moved here to MN. I can say in each of those places the people are far more friendly and open to meeting new people. In general people new in those areas are greeted with a hi and hello in their work places...not here. Even in the town general courteousy of excuse me, please, and thank you are forgotten in grocery stores or in public settings. I recently just went home to DC and was taken aback by remebering how nice the people are. Random people on the streets say hello, good morning or just hi. I also experienced this when I went back to OH recently to visit friends there. In the grocery store people will strike up a random conversation (in CA this is not the norm so first time years ago this happened to me it was quite funny and I thought odd). I have made friends here, and good ones, but none of them are natives to good friend's gf, who is a native, only recently has warmed up to me after over half a year hanging out. In my workplace over 3/4 of the people have yet to even say hello or acknowledge I'm a living person with a head nod or a smile. As for meeting someone or going on a date...I've given up. Gone out several times and struck up conversations but as soon as I get the question abt where I'm from...lock down, they go from chatty to judgmental and I get "well obviously you have no problem moving around and no family ties" (which is far from the truth since I've only moved for work and my education). Often when I'm out I get branded as a player because of how I look and act (most recentlty a bridal shower nearly stripped me in front of a local bar which was fun at first but went over board and I had to stop them)and where I've lived but it's far from the truth and I find it funny. Most recently I met a nice girl, we seemed to hit it off and told her openly about my plans to potentially leave this fall to join the military, she seemed put off by this idea and didn't seem to know why I'd want to leave. In the end we exchanged numbers and since has given me the old cold shoulder. In general I don't get why people seem so closed off and pre-judgmental here and find it rude which is why I'm moving on the first chance I my disappointment (since I worked so hard to get here) and the disappointment of my friends here.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:46 AM  

  • Scandinavian Laws of Jante:
    1 You're not to think you are anything special.
    2 You're not to think you are as good as we are.
    3 You're not to think you are smarter than we are.
    4 You're not to convince yourself that you are better than we are.
    5 You're not to think you know more than we do.
    6 You're not to think you are more important than we are.
    7 You're not to think you are good at anything.
    8 You're not to laugh at us.
    9 You're not to think anyone cares about you.
    10 You're not to think you can teach us anything.
    11 Perhaps you don't think we know a few things about you?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:03 PM  

  • I wish to convey my gratitude for your kindness for visitors who absolutely need assistance with that idea. Your real dedication to passing the message all over had been pretty practical and has without exception enabled associates much like me to realize their targets. Your own warm and friendly key points indicates a lot to me and extremely more to my mates. With thanks; from each one of us. Cara Meyembuhkan Kutil Kelamin dari Dokter Spesialis de Nature

    By Blogger Eighth Aly, at 12:32 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home