Fake People are predominant in the Deep South. In fact, southern culture is based on fakeness - people here are 'friendlier,' but never more helpful than those in the North. Southern ladies will talk as long as you let them, but you can expect them to talk behind your back as readily. Other people give a lot of lip service, promising things that they're aren't willing or able to do, assuming that you won't ask it of them to perform. While being 'Christian,' the idea of straining themselves to help their next man is alien to them.
A culture of fake people is a weak one, while they are unwilling to help one another, they are still dependent. There is no truly equal relationship in the south, one always profits, one always reluctantly helps out. This makes them unwilling to help out of the kindness of their heart and makes the South as shoddy as it is.

Wonko: I've lived in Mobile, AL for seven years now. Come visit sometime, and learn what the deep south is all about. Rather, don't.

Discussing the South by extracting from personal experience conclusions about "Southern People" is as useless as daytripping through Paris and trying to assemble a coherent and accurate model of "French People." It is difficult to imagine that description applying to Walker Percy, Flannery O'Connor, William Faulkner, or to any of the Southerners I've met.

The real essence of "Southern Culture" can only be ascertained by examining the cognitive structures that the region's inhabitants use to construct their lives and identities. Their impressions of themselves and their world is far more important than the impressions of an observer, which in no way elucidate the central question: what does it mean to be Southern? What is the Southern Cultural experience? Are these even real concepts?

Southerners do not interpret their emphasis on manners and etiquette as "fakeness," and there are undoubtedly many "equal relationships." That some see the South in these terms highlights the fascinating disparity between Southerners and Northerners, which continues to exist even today.

Clearly, piq has had some bad times in the South, and that is regrettable. I would remind him, and of those who share his views, though, that while clearly not everyone enjoys living in the South, some of us Southerners are quite happy here. In fact, I would suggest that *most* of us are happy where we are - else we would pack up and move.

My experiences in the South have been completely different from piq's. I should preface this by saying that I live in North Carolina - certainly not part of the Deep South, but this is about Southern culture in general. I have never felt uneasy asking for help, directions, or anything, anywhere in the South. I get lost in Charlotte, I can ask someone on the street where to go, and get directions, a smile, and a "have a nice day." Try that in New York. See how many people smile at you, or even pay attention when you're trying to ask how to get somewhere. Hell, see how far people will go to avoid making eye contact. It's a fun game. Point is, people don't just put on a show of smiling and such - in my experience, they mean it!

And speaking of meaning it - a number of us do do our best to act in a civilized manner, particularly in public. People scoff at the whole "Southern hospitality" thing, but it is very real, and it truly plays a role in determining our courses of action. It is part of the values we grow up with, and it may be that if you don't grow up with it, it's hard to understand. I surely can't speak for all Southerners, or even a small portion of them, but I can speak for myself - and when I hold a door open for a lady, or pitch in to get a car out of a ditch, or even do something as simple as make eye contact and smile back when someone's smiling at me, I don't do it on account of I want to uphold some sort of image about the South. I do it because the way I was brought up, it's the right thing to do.

I don't know much about Southern cities, but I have lived in the rural South for nine years (Tuscaloosa, Alabama and Columbus, MS), and I believe that it is the rural South where Southern culture has originated, so that is what I'll talk about here.

I left Mississippi to go to college here in Pittsburgh. When I did so, my friend drove me to the airport and said, "So you're movin' up North, huh?"

"I've been up there before, and I'm gonna tell you that everybody up there is crazy -- you'll fit right in"

He was so right. Up here, culture is something completely different. It's something that people decide to belong to. There are so many different subcultures to chose from. In Pittsburgh, you can be a raver or a goth or a punk or a yinzer. There is no unifying Northern culture, people just do whatever they want.

In the South, you have just two cultures: Southern and not-quite-so-Southern. This basically amounts to rednecks (Southern) and everyone else. Everyone, however, shares the same sort of mindset discribed by hodgepodge, i.e., be hospitable because its the right thing to do. Be nice because you're s'posed to. Southern culture is this uniform mindset. Southern culture is tradition. Northern culture is diversity.

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