Why is New Jersey So Hated? Google Autocomplete Divulges (Not-So-Secret) State Stereotypes
Google: Where we ask our most personal questions, share our deepest fears — and apparently expose our deepest-held stereotypes. A map of the 50 states using Google Autocomplete for the question "Why is [state] so?" popped up over the weekend, and the results don't paint a complimentary picture at all. In fact, the rather crude looking map exposes that Americans are super judge-y about one another.
Some of the results include "bad" for New Jersey, "corrupt" for Illinois, "backwards" for Georgia, "big" for Texas, and "mormon" for Utah. "Expensive" was the result for New York, New Hampshire, California, Alaska, AND Hawaii. The states that are perceived as the poorest include New Mexico, Mississippi, Arkansas, Kentucky, West Virginia, and South Carolina. The northern states of Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Michigan are known for their extreme cold and little else.
Political overtones are seen in Idaho ("republican"), Iowa ("democratic"), Wisconsin ("liberal"), and Ohio ("important" — as in "important" for presidential primaries as a swing state). States that are met with a general "meh" include Nebraska ("boring") and Kansas ("flat"). According to the map, the only "good" states are Oregon and Alabama (which, let's face it, seems questionable at the very least).
I noticed there are at least two inconsistencies with the graphic's data (although this may be due to Google's insistence on conducting searches via location).
Here's what I found most interesting about these state searches:
First up, according to the graph, my home state of New Jersey is apparently the worst in the entire U.S. But it's actually the most hated. At least, that's according to my search.
I get it, we've got some political corruption issues (with Gov. Christie and Bridgegate being the latest fiasco), but let's not forget New Jersey is also responsible for bringing the light bulb, air conditioning, and bubble wrap to the world.
Next, let's look at Connecticut, which was labeled as "haunted." Haunted, really? My very scientific computer-based and observational analysis shows that Connecticut is actually known more for being a bunch of entitled rich snobs.
Why Are You White?
Oh my god, Karen, you can't just ask people why they're white. Apparently, people didn't get that memo from Mean Girls when searching about Maine on the Web. The Bangor Daily News tackled the lack of diversity in Maine back in 2012, attributing it to vast rural areas and low job growth.
Other strange results include "windy" for Wyoming and "strict" for Virginia. Wyoming is actually very windy, according to the Western Regional Climate Center:
During the winter there are frequent periods when the wind reaches 30 to 40 miles per hour with gusts to 50 or 60. ... In many localities winds are so strong and constant from those directions that trees show a definite lean towards the east or southeast.
It's less clear exactly what people are referring to when they call Virginia "strict." Based on that Google search, it could be about the state's DUI or traffic speeding laws — or maybe linked to Virginia's recent restrictions on abortions.
Are These States Really That Great?
Lastly, let's circle back to the "good" states, Oregon and Alabama. We know Oregon is busy keeping Portland weird and stocked with food trucks, plus having nice scenery and a lax lifestyle or whatever, but most of the Google search results focus on the University of Oregon's football team, the Ducks.
As for Alabama, the "good" vibes come entirely from the football team as well, the University of Alabama Crimson Tide. Because these are the other options for the state, where nearly 20 percent of adults and 28 percent of children in Alabama live below the poverty line:
But maybe that's just because my attitude is based on the "temperamental and uninhibited" state I live in.
Oh, and don't worry, there's even a test to find out which state's stereotype would fit your personality best.