Everything said above is true, but whoever wrote that didn't say just how true it is. "Mostly rural" and "politically and culturally more conservative" indeed! If that is a way of saying that Salem is full of boring rednecks, then it is 100% true. Besides that is even giving it more credit than it is due. Its not like Salem is full of some type of militia people or survivalists. Mostly suburban people who have boring-ass jobs but think they are cowboys because they have gone fishin' on the weekends. Any stereotype about boring suburbanites who think Wal-Mart is the source for everything you need to know and need to buy works here.
I can't say that I was much different as a teenager. My mom was a bit more liberal and educated then most of the people in Salem, so I didn't think that the entire world ended at the Willamette River. But I was still intent to be a dumb teenager and think that cruising up and down the strip going to fastfood and maybe smoking some pot was really cool. My biggest outlet from being just as dumb then other dumb teenagers was that I got a job working at Goodwill, which was moderately quirky and also I went to community college and learned about environmentalism. Also, as a sign of teenage rebellion, I ran away from home and ended up running to an even more rural, pointless town. But pretty soon I did what all Salem kids do...moved to Portland. Even the lamest day here is 10X more exciting than being in Salem, smoking pot and going to Taco Bell. I hope that I am not whining too much, because I know there are millions of American teens living in even lamer places, but Salem is pretty damn lame.