Anyone here from "The South"?

Copied and pasted this article from today’s paper - using Airbnb to describe geographic culture! Not sure if I should laugh or roll my eyes! Full disclosure: I am NOT even remotely from the south and will have to look up “game day”!

"With the help of data, we drew the ultimate map of Southern culture

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BY ANDREW VAN DAM

THE WASHINGTON POST

If you wish to calculate the most Southern things on Earth, you must first draw a line around “the South.”

It’s hard!

The South isn’t just geographic. Plenty of states in the southern half of the United States aren’t even remotely Southern. It’s not entirely historical – it probably goes beyond the boundaries of the Confederate States of America, but doesn’t encompass every former slave state on the Union side. It’s entirely cultural. And culture is notoriously hard to measure.

Normally, an argument like this would be settled by the Census Bureau, the ultimate arbiter of all things dweeb. But the Census definition of the South seems wildly generous, sweeping up every state from Delaware in the East to Oklahoma in the West.

Data journalists have raced to fill the breach, but a final answer remained elusive until we noticed just how many places on Airbnb advertise their “Southern hospitality” or their “Midwestern charm.”

All those Airbnb hosts were, we realized, creating a one-of-a-kind map of America’s true cultural boundaries. Airbnb listings represent hundreds of thousands of pages of text capturing exactly how Americans describe their home regions to outsiders, and every single word of it has a geographic location attached.

That little insight would eventually lead to a database of more than half a million listings. With it, we could calculate what words and ideas made Southern culture unique. But first we’d have to define “the South.”

It wasn’t as simple as searching listings for the word “Southern” – too many people say they’re in “Southern Oregon” or advertise their home’s “Southern exposure.” But we soon found that searching for phrases such as “Southern charm” or “Southern hospitality” would limit the results to true Southerners.

By that measure, the South’s heartland lies in the Deep South strip of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina. Their northern neighbors – Tennessee, North Carolina, Kentucky, Arkansas and Virginia – are also relatively easy inclusions.

From there it gets dicier: West Virginia, Florida, Texas and Washington, D.C., are on the bubble. By our reckoning, hosts in those places are only about a tenth as likely to name-drop the South in their listings as are their friends in Mississippi, the most Southern state of them all.

But they’re also substantially more Southern than the rest of the country, and our data show they include major regions with strong Southern culture – think East Texas or the Florida Panhandle – so it made sense to include them.

To be sure, this version of the South includes areas that were more or less loyal to the Union during the Civil War (it’s complicated). Kentucky and West Virginia were slave states with substantial pockets of rebel sympathizers, while D.C. – also home to enslavers until emancipation in 1862 – experienced a decisive infusion of Southern culture in the mid-20th century, when Black men and women from farther south flooded there in search of economic opportunity amid the Great Migration.

With the outline of the South firmly drawn, we can calculate the most Southern things. To meet our criteria, something had to be mentioned in at least 200 listings. We removed place names and anything that got more than a third of its listings from a single state – they represent a state, not a region.

The result shows a South still defined by the legacy of slavery. The two most Southern words in our entire database are “antebellum” and “plantation,” words deeply tied to the Confederacy and a romanticized vision of an era defined by the mass enslavement of Black people. (“Confederate” also ranks among the top 15 most Southern words.)

But it also shows a place that’s unique ecologically, with alligators, dolphins, armadillos, shrimp and redfish all being among the most Southern words in the database. Southern trees like crape myrtle and longleaf pine didn’t have enough mentions to make the final cut but would have been among the most Southern things in the entire database. The same goes for the daiquiri.

Many other entries point to classic touchstones of Southern culture, such as the second-person plural pronoun “y’all,” Mississippi-born crossover artist and pompadour popularizer Elvis Presley and that most hallowed Southern holiday, “game day.”"

The article included this map:

Another chuckle/eye roll - Alaska and Hawaii weren’t included, duh!

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When I was a young teenager, my cousin in Brooklyn, who I barely knew and only saw once every few years, told me how much she loved my “Southern accent”.

I was born and raised in Kansas City. People from that area of the country have virtually no accent- its pretty much straight dictionary pronunciation and I had never even heard the phrase “Well, bless your heart” :rofl:. She had obviously never met anyone who was actually from the South.

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I am from Texas and I would never refer to it as the South. To me, the South is MS, GA, AL and I guess SC - basically what the map shows. Their food is very distinct and very different from TX food and I think they talk funny, lol.

You can fit all of those states into TX, which is why TX has its own culture, it’s so big. And we do have multiple distinct accents but none of them are “southern” accents. (East TX comes closest but it’s not the same tongue or lip movements, I’ve had to learn them all for film work).

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I stopped at a diner on cross-country drive from my SF home in the early 70’s. While I was ordering, the waitress was smiling and staring at my mouth like she was lip-reading. When I paused, a bit uncomfortable, she laughed merrily and said, “I just looove your accent! Y’all talk just like them folks on tay vay!”

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This is the most surprising thing I will read today.

I wasn’t born in the South and I only lived in the South for (Memphis, TN) for half of 1st grade. But my parents were true Southerners despite spending all of their adult lives outside the South aside from the months my mom and I were in Memphis and my dad was in Mississippi.

I understand all of the article and think it’s an interesting take. I don’t find the words Southern Hospitality or Southern charm to be particularly appealing. For obvious reasons Airbnb hosts leave out one of the most Southern words…“Christian.”

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Oh my GAWD! Lordy mercy. Game day is nearly as important as church. :rofl: :rofl:

It’s short for football. If you’ve never been to a southern tailgating party please find you someone who will invite you. There’s nothing like it, especially at Ole Miss for example.

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I have actually seen a listing or two where the hosts stated that they have “American values” and expect their guests to as well. There was a post on the CC years ago where the host was complaining that she should be allowed to decline any guest who didn’t have the same “American values” that she did. She got instantly pounced and stomped on by the responders, and reported, and I noticed a short time later that her listing had been removed.

What is “Southern hospitality” supposed to mean anyway? That you get offered a seat on the porch swing and a mint julep? That they have a corner on the market when it comes to being hospitable?

The funniest thing I saw when driving through the South was a chain of self-service gas stations, I think in Louisiana, called "Hep U Sef ".

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I guess I’m just not with it!!! My (northern) high school did not have a football team, neither did my college!! Can’t say I missed it!

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I don’t even know how to respond to this. I am from a combination of GA, SC & NC.

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Yes. Question it (as I’m sure you will) but the reputation exists.

xoxoxoxoxo

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Guilty as charged. For me, it is mimosa and bloody mary supplies upon arrival with farmers market fruits and veggies for garnishes, served on a low country sweetgrass woven platter. :woman_facepalming: I’m not even from here. But, works like a “Southern Charm”.

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I’m from western NC… Definitely “south” geographically but I’ve always considered myself Appalachian rather than Southern. Totally different culture than the deep south plantation folks.

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Ole Miss graduate here. Mississippi girl. I can attest to the sacred level of “game day.” If you want to be entertained, Google “game day in the grove.”

You will see pictures of women wearing 4 inch spiked heels, cocktail dresses, diamonds everywhere, and tailgate tents with real chandeliers hanging from the roof with fine silver and fine China. Not everybody is that psychotic, including me, but Ole Miss game day is an off-the-charts experience in the Grove.

But then there are normal people like me in the grove wearing jeans and tennis shoes and a ponytail. Each to their own, I guess.

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I was also raised in the Kansas city area, Lawrence, KS, and it’s true we don’t really have an accent.

When I moved to Michigan for grad school a girl in my department from Georgia said something about me being from the south coming from Kansas. I had to explain to her how huge of an insult that was to a Kansan. She just wasn’t aware of the history.

Kansas isn’t even physically in the south, it’s basically smack dab in the center of the country. But some people are even clueless about the geography of their own country.

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