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I'm the Local Gal in Richmond, Indiana, exploring my hometown and heart. I write about all thing local, sometimes global. It's a small world after all.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Are We Being Rude?

“Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.”  ~King James Version of the Bible~

A few weeks ago a story was picked up on the Local Lady radar concerning Indiana culture. On a nationwide survey study we, as in Hoosiers, were ranked as some of the rudest people in America, at least over the phone. In a follow up story on the Indianapolis Star, at least one person agreed:

“I have lived many places, and this is the rudest state I have found,” said (Kelly Larssen) Tank, originally from Iowa. “The only people who believe in Hoosier hospitality are people from Indiana. In order to be truly hospitable, you have to reach out to others who are not from here.

It seems to fall in line with my story on Speaking to Strangers. Not everyone is willing to sit and listen to a stranger on a public bench. When we aren't familiar with someone, we regard them with suspicion and that is only natural. It's so easy to be friendly and welcoming to people who we already know.

Several years ago, when my husband and I were still considering relocating, we looked into moving to other locations based on a few criteria I had come up with- one of those was that before we made the commitment to residing in any community, I would scan the local paper to gauge what kind of community we could potentially find ourselves in. Several cities were quickly nixed for rude behavior on their local news sites. One in particular allowed extremely racist comments on their threads go unchecked. After reading that thread, it was a resounding "NO!".

If I were to apply that same search criteria to my current city, what kind of grade would Richmond, Indiana receive?

I quickly scanned the Pal-Item just now. At the time of this writing, it's nearly free of commentary. While I was in college, the forums on the news site were full of anonymous, quarrelsome people. The Palladium Item moved from anonymous commentary to a Facebook platform in an effort to make dialogue clearer. I noticed not long ago, that comments that are posted to the Pal-Item site seem to be routinely purged. Therefore, it makes this point of criteria almost moot, unless one knows where to look. Presumably because commentary was not kept on the site itself, most community discussions have moved directly onto Facebook with such groups as "Speak Out Richmond/SOR" or "Common Sense Richmond". The latest group to form is called "Good News Richmond". (To visit groups, you must have a Facebook acct, login and click "Join Group".)

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We hear quite a bit about Facebook and social media representations affecting people on an individual level, in their personal life as well as their career. Maybe cities then are not that different?

How can Richmond promote itself best on-line, over the phone and in our daily interactions with people within our community as well as with out of town visitors?

  • Use Kind Words
  • Exercise patience, especially with whom you disagree.
  • Confront inappropriate behavior, especially as a group, quickly and directly. Let it be known that it's unacceptable. 

It's better to quickly respond to a problem with a direct confrontation then to let it fester over time. Personally, I'm doing my part by imparting etiquette (especially phone etiquette!) to our children.

Let's change this perception of Indiana rudeness and claim Hoosier Hospitality!

<3 Your Local Gal