3 Exaggerations about Florida
By Kelly Dean
I tease Florida a great deal. My gentle ribbing is meant only to poke fun at some of the quirks that seem to be predominantly a “Florida-thing.” But that is untrue, of course. Those very same quirks exist everywhere. They rise to the surface here because the media loves it. Quirky people love the warmth as much as normal people – whatever normal people might be, that is.
I’ve been guilty of this ribbing myself and I’ll man-up to it, but satire is satire, and think people are taking it a bit too literally.Nonetheless, I’ve call myself out on it.
I mention this because I recently did a Google tour of some websites and blog postings that were downright mean about the Sunshine State and the titles were obviously designed as click bait. Many were discouraging people from moving here.
Yet many were written by people who don’t live here at all or had lived here briefly and moved away – for whatever reasons – or had simply vacationed here. Too often, it seems they are putting down Florida to highlight another warm-weather state such as Arizona or New Mexico, as if there’s a heat completion going on. Sorry you had a rainy vacation, but really?
One must realize that Florida is now the third most populous state. Plus, over 105 million people visited here last year. The population is growing faster than any other state and has for some time. Florida is an eclectic mix of many different ethnic groups, nationalities and social backgrounds. If one takes time, they can really absorb a great deal of insight from this “humanity salad bowl,” much like in many other culturally diverse places.
So having soap-boxed this point, I’d like to point out some misconceptions that are overblown or over repeated.
1. Florida is gun crazy
As mentioned, Florida is the third most populous state at roughly 20-million people, and has more concealed carry permits than any other state, at about 1.5 million of them. Despite this, Florida ranks #14 in gun murders per one hundred thousand as of 2010 according to the FBI Uniform Crime Reports of 2010. With one out of every 13 people having a legal right to carry a concealed gun, it is likely Floridians walk by several guns daily, yet somehow that doesn’t manifest into gun violence. I watch people eat with knives and forks each day at lunch and dinner, but somehow they restrain themselves and don’t rob me with their steak knife.
Of course, it would be a better world if people felt safe enough to not want to carry a gun, but that would be a different world than what we’re living in right now apparently. So we wait.
2. The political folks are a bit sketchy
On this one, I guess it really depends upon whether your sketchy politician beat the other sketchy politician in the latest election. It is a trait of human nature to seek excuses for outcomes that just didn’t go their way. In this case, either people are responsible for their behaviors and their subsequent outcomes or they seek excuses for their behaviors and their subsequent outcomes. Their faithful allies tend to follow suit.
Fact is there is no more noted corruption in this state than anywhere else. Certainly, philosophies don’t always line up with what some want; election outcomes don’t always yield the results we want; but it isn’t proof of any corruption. Winning and losing is a part of life. The system needs that yin and yang to stay balanced. Florida elections Fall right at about 50/50, which is much like the nation as a whole. When it’s 30/70, then it might indicate a problem, or potential problem.
But this is not a political site.
3. Florida’s weather is completely out of whack
Florida’s weather is fairly predictable. June to September it will start at about 78 degrees and temps rise to around 90 degrees — and it will probably rain in the humid afternoons two out of three days. In fall and winter, it’s dry and many parts of the state go without rain for some time. In spring, it’s pleasant leading right up to summer. The fall and winter temperatures will start at the 50s and 60s, and get up in the sunny 70s most days.
That’s pretty predictable.
The last truly devastating hurricane in Florida was Hurricane Andrew in 1992. Charley hit in 2004. Yes, there is storm damage and frequent near misses, but we have several days notice, not like during the Labor Day storm in 1935.
We just get a great deal of hurricane activity and many, many days to hear about it. But two major storms in a quarter-century, which affected only part of the state each time, might make me evacuate for a couple of days, but not make me move away.
Some clichés about Florida are fair, such as the number of older folks — and driving being congested in winter tourist season. But considering the size of the state and the fact everyone seeks the warmth, yet not the heat, it’s a miracle we get along as well as we do.
I will continue gently ribbing the Sunshine State, but my comments are to be taken tongue in cheek. To many others out there are just written to be mean, unfair or to display jealousy.