Florida Is Not That Weird

Pet peeve: People and institutions that celebrate, promote and accentuate Florida weirdness.

Florida weird. Weird Florida.

It’s a cliché vertical (or keyword) in media outlets, like The Huffington Post, like the Sun-Sentinel, Miami New Times. Northern media outlets, like Slate, Buzzfeed, and Salon love to highlight, lambast and decry, “What’s wrong with Florida?” or “What makes Florida so weird?” or click here for “101 Crazy Weird Florida Stories.”

This is a big “FU” to all who promote Florida weirdness.

We’re not that weird.

We’re not any weirder than California or New York or Texas or Arizona. We’re certainly not weirder than cities that pride themselves on being weird, like Portland or Austin.

Have you ever been to San Francisco?

Okay, sure, there’s weirdness in Florida.

But here’s the problem with accentuating our weirdness.

It’s belittling and dehumanizing.

It creates a false stereotype that Florida is not-as-good-as other places, like the all mighty New York or Los Angeles or D.C. or even Chicago, as if these almighty entitled places aren’t as corrupt and filled with phonies and weirdos and residents that are just as miserable as anybody else. Here’s another problem with being weird: It weakens us rhetorically. Believe it or not, there are intelligent people in Florida. Believe it or not, Florida is evolving out of a stale, fun-in-the-sun, corrupt, party destination.

Here’s the truth about Florida, and Miami in particular: We’re not that weird.

Pay Respect to Florida

We are very poor. We do have some serious issues with income inequality. Our education system is also seriously underfunded. We do have some serious issues with crime and violence. We need jobs. We are without question the most culturally diverse population, heavily immigrated, trying to rise in a country that promises social mobility as its dream during a time when that dream of social mobility is paper thin.

Listen. We’re also very beautiful.

Our nature. Our residents. Our weather.

People wish they were here and they should.

We’re also filled with culture like never before.

So don’t come here for a weekend and think you have any idea of what Florida is.

You don’t.

Don’t throw stones like “what’s wrong with Florida?” from your own glass house.

There’s nothing wrong with weirdness or eccentricity. But highlighting and promoting it here in Florida is detrimental to our cultural growth and evolution. Florida is relatively young in comparison to other states. It’s a red herring. Florida is the future.

The last thing we need is to shoot ourselves in the foot with idiocy and false promotions. Instead, we should unite and push back against anyone who tries to dehumanize us. And while doing that, focus on issues that actually matter ~ writer drops the proverbial mic.


This article was filed by J.J. Colagrande, author of Reduce Heat Continue to Boil and Deco 2.0.

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J.J. Colagrande

Has written about Miami culture for almost twenty years, first with The Miami Herald, then Miami New Times and Huffington Post. He's the publisher of The Jitney and a full-time professor.