The Increasingly Negative Society Growing in Utah
I know several people in Utah will read this because they think I'm about to start talking about the culture in Utah, claim that I hated it and there's obviously something wrong with Utah. I'm actually going to take an entirely different approach to this. One that none of you have probably ever heard before. So for the past seven years I have been living in Salt Lake City. I was attending the University of Utah, working and living life. I got engaged and married after a little more than 2 years living there, I was married for 2 ½ years, got divorced and spent a little more than 2 years in the Salt Lake area before finally leaving. My first 2 years there were quite fun. The 2 ½ years that I was married were great too, my social circle became much smaller (as is expected when you get married). So I didn't really see what Utah society was becoming while I was married. I had a small glimpse of it just before getting married, but it was only enough to annoy me rather than cause me to speak out about it. After getting divorced and increasing my interaction with everyone around me, I discovered that everything had changed drastically. Now I have left Utah and I feel like I should speak out about this to spread a little bit of self awareness to those who think they are so self aware, but in fact lack desperately.
Allow me to first identify some aspects of my character. I'm not the type of person to allow myself to be in a situation where I don't want to be. Hence the reason I left Utah and I don't want to go back for a long time. The social norms that have taken over Utah have become overwhelmingly negative and I can't stand to be around it. So I have chosen to get away from there. To sum up the aspect of my character I'm highlighting here... if there's a situation I don't want to be in, I remove myself from it.
Now, with that being said, let's move on to the reasons I want to stay out of Utah. Let's start with a scenario. For those of you from outside Utah, imagine you're living back home. You've grown up with everything around you, the culture, the predominant religions, the politics, the people, everything. You're used to living with this and it's home to you. Now imagine people start moving in all around you and their main topic of discussion is “This place sucks! I hate it here! The people here are all so fake and sheltered!” I couldn't tell you to close your eyes prior to this, because then you wouldn't be able to read it. Just pretend I had and that now I'm saying “Open your eyes.” Welcome to Utah! :-)
That's right, Utah is full of people from out of state who come to cry and pitch a hissy fit about everything there. And after you bring this up, they will claim the reason they are so hateful and waste so much of their time whining about the situation they put themselves in is because the culture in Utah is messed up and they are trying to bring some knowledge of the “real world” to the state to “help” everyone there. Thank you all so very much for coming to talk down to everyone in Utah. We are truly appreciative that you have come to act like you are better than Utahans and more knowledgeable about the world. You have shown us the very definition of pomposity and self-righteousness. Moving on...
These are the types of people who will (if you're LDS) get up to the pulpit in fast and testimony meeting and say things like “So, like, I just like moved here like three weeks ago, and um like I'm like from California, and like... what a culture shock, (sigh) you know” Alright, now without the valley girl accent, “I just moved here to Utah, I don't know why. I guess I just felt like attending school here because they have a good program in ...” or “I went to school at BYU and uh... now I'm working up here in Salt Lake and I'm just kind of surviving the Utah culture. I didn't think I'd be here this long, but here I am.” Now imagine this happening where you come from. Everyone has come in to rip on everything about the state they moved to. Imagine guests come into your house. They're respectable for a time, but then begin to act as though they're better than you because they like the way their house is decorated more than yours. They like the food better, they like their family better than your family, maybe they don't like your yard, or the temperature in your house, or they don't like the God you worship, they also don't like the way you act and get offended by everything that's said without even a thought to giving the benefit of the doubt to anyone, yet expecting it to be given to them. This is nothing but the mental and social equivalent of bullying.
This is the number one reason I have left Utah and do not want to return. The popular thing to do in Utah now, is to hate everything about it, yet, refuse to remove yourself from the situation. Could anything be more pathetic than me moving to a state such as... oh let's say Hawaii, and begin a bunch of hate speech about the culture and demand that it all change for me. Instead of removing myself from the culture, I want you all to change to accommodate me! That's what you have in Utah. The problem is, so many people have already accepted that something is wrong with the culture that it's become a movement within the state itself. It is now unpopular to be a citizen of the state and live the way you want to live. People have moved in to tell you that your way of life is jacked up and you must change because where they come from is what the rest of the country is like. And that brings up a good point, anyone who would move to Utah and not expect culture shock... why did you move out of your home in the first place? You should have stayed with your parents. I'm beginning to think these people have never traveled outside of their own state. I've traveled extensively throughout this country (and the world) and one thing is for certain, no state has the same culture. Even CA has several different cultures within that one state. SoCal is different from the bay area, which is different from Northern CA which is different from Arizona, which is different from New York, which is different from Texas, which is different from Kentucky, which is different from Florida, Tennessee, Michigan, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Virginia, Maine, etc. You get the point? No two places are the same. And I thought we appreciated different cultures in the world these days. I thought people appreciated a little bit of change now and then. And of course I figured everyone was smart enough to understand that there would be serious changes and differences when visiting a different place. Northern Utah is completely different from Southern Utah. Yet people expect Utah to become what they wanted it to be. To put this plainly, if you have an idea in your mind of how events should play out in life, but that idea is not realized, you become bitter. If you enter a new phase of life with an open mind to whatever you may experience and look for something deeper than what you initially experience (and stop looking for something wrong with your situation) you'll learn and become a better person for it.
If I may use an analogy, this is one of many problems in marriage these days. Male and female alike get married and instead of loving the person they married, they actually love the person they think he/she will become. And when that person doesn't manifest, they get bitter and despise the other for not becoming who they had envisioned he/she would become. Now, I know moving to another state is not marriage, but it can be compared in the sense that you are taking yourself out of your comfort zone and moving into unfamiliar territory. The difference is the expectations with which you enter that new territory. If you move into that territory with expectations of what it will be like, chances are, you'll become a very bitter individual who hates their surroundings and is completely miserable. Good news for all of you who hate Utah, you have plenty of company there in Utah to wallow in misery and self-pity with you for the situation you put yourself in. On the other hand, if you move into that new phase of life a little more open-minded and willing to accept challenges and learn and grow from experiences, accepting that nobody's perfect... well, you'll certainly have a much better life filled with fun and wisdom rather than hate and bitterness.
Now, I brought up the point that everyone's hatred for Utah is nothing but the mental and social equivalent of bullying. So allow me to elaborate a little. What does a bully do? Let's not get into the mindset of a bully here. Let's just think about the outward actions of a bully. They pick on others. They usually pick a few people in particular, perhaps just one person as the target, and they make the target's life a living hell. Perhaps they push them around, perhaps they steal their lunch money, make fun of the fact that they wear glasses or braces, tell them they're no good, remind them everyday that the clothes they wear are outdated and they come from a poor family, make a play on words with the victim's name and create a derogatory nickname for him/her, or in general simply make fun of an attribute of their physical appearance or the way they speak (maybe the victim is foreign or something), I'm sure we could go on and on with this list, but the main idea is that bullies tease someone over something that is outside the victim's control.
This is exactly what is going on in Utah. People think they can place themselves above every LDS (Mormon) in Utah under a preconceived assumption that Utahns have never experienced the “real world” because they are LDS and from Utah. Therefore, you must assert yourself as better than them and make sure that every Utahn is aware of where you came from and that you are better than them because of where you grew up versus where they grew up; something outside their control. Now I must ask a personal question, why is it that so many people who come to Utah think this way? I'm beginning to think that they are coming to Utah thinking this is a place where they can rule like a king/queen. They think Utah is a place of peasants, in terms of their worldly knowledge, and therefore they must rule over Utahns. Allow me to run away on another tangent for a second with this one. Remember that guy in middle school or high school (maybe girls did this too, I have no idea) who told outrageous stories of great accomplishments he had done that just seem too good to be true? Remember how you listened to it but didn't feel like calling him out as a liar because you didn't care to argue with a half-wit? Yeah, that's what everyone who acts too good for Utah is like. Yet Utahns will sit there and listen to you tell us about the “real world” that you experienced in the distant land of... you ready for this??? Colorado (or any other state in the union) thinking to ourselves, “um... that sounds exactly like my experience here in Utah.” But in the interest of avoiding confrontation, we'll let you bloat your ego a bit more every time you tell it to someone from Utah.
How about another example to illustrate this. Remember the TV show The Office? Of course you do, it's not that old. I think this was a deleted scene from the 4th season... anyway, Ryan had come to visit from New York City and was talking with Jim about how great New York is. Jim was talking happily with him and agreeing with everything Ryan was saying while adding his own experience in New York saying something to the effect of 'Yeah, when I was there I had a lot of fun!' However, Ryan would not accept that Jim could understand New York the way he understands it. So Ryan says something to the effect of 'No it's not like that Jim, it's something that you simply couldn't understand unless you're there living it.' This exchange continues about 3 more times until Jim coughs out a secret word to Pam “Birdcage” and Pam calls Jim's desk phone giving him a way out of the ridiculous conversation Ryan is forcing on him. Could there be a more pompous prick? Certainly, There are thousands of them in Utah right now. They have all come to let you know that you are inferior to them because of where you live. Let's just face it, they'll never be happy until we are all on our knees begging them to forgive us for being raised in Utah. Forgive us for enjoying our childhood and adolescent years growing up in Utah participating in all the recreation available and now for some crazy reason, we like Utah. Please forgive us for liking Utah! I don't know why anyone would enjoy Utah after growing up there. Perhaps because that's where they made themselves who they are today. Perhaps because that's where they made the happy memories they have. How would you like it if someone came to you home town and continually spewed a bunch of hate speech about the place where you grew up?
While I'm on the topic of acts of pomposity and self righteousness, I should discuss a few common occurrences in LDS churches throughout Utah. Who has heard someone say something degrading towards Utah in church? It could be from the pulpit or in Sunday school. We once had a Sunday school president from Washington (not DC) who only taught lessons when he knew he could include something hateful about Utah in his lesson. One of the lessons he even based entirely on problems in Utah. His approach to this was not problems with politics in the state or anything institutional, but problems that all people from Utah have because of where they're from. We're all thinking it, I'm just saying it... what a douche! I thought he was a pretty cool guy at first. Especially since the girl I started dating in that ward (not from Utah either) said that his lessons were always so good. Come to find out, she hates Utah too. And come to find out, this guy could be cool, if he didn't have to express his hatred for Utah in the most inappropriate ways.
This is fun, let's try another common occurrence in Utah Young Single Adult (YSA) wards. For those of you who are not LDS, on the first Sunday of each month in church anyone can go to the pulpit during the main meeting at church to give a statement of their belief in the church and perhaps share a few short experiences that helped them to gain that belief. In a YSA ward there are always new people. So it's common that everyone takes a few seconds to give their name and perhaps tell people where they're from where they go to school or what they do for work, something to that effect. Wellllllll... this is a chance for all those not from Utah to make a statement of who they are! Not just their name and where they're from, oh no no no, but where they believe they stand in the social order in the state they have come to. I imagine their thoughts are something like this: “This is my chance to let everyone know that I'm cool, because I'm not from Utah! This is my chance to show everyone that I have real world experience because I'm not from this place that I didn't grow up in which makes me better even though I have no idea what it was like for those who did grow up here.” So they immediately begin ragging on Utah. This is their opportunity to tell everyone exactly where they stand in the world. They have self-identified as someone who considers himself/herself to be better than all of Utah yet for some reason they remain... in Utah.
My question for everyone is this: Is there any greater act of pomposity and (if it were a word) douchebaggery than to get up in a religious meeting (not to mention this is a religion in which you profess to have a belief) but instead of testifying of your belief in God and the Savior in this setting and short amount of time set apart for that purpose, you use that time to set yourself apart from the crowd as someone who is definitely not from Utah, is above Utahns in every way and, let's not forget, is disgusted, to some degree, by the culture and people in Utah. Oh, and how could we forget REFUSES TO LEAVE! Instead of professing your belief in God and His greatness during the 1 hour per month the entire ward has set apart to do so, you use that time to profess your belief in yourself and how you are above the place to which you chose to move.
So I have a few theories on why they are in Utah. Theory the First:
They don't actually hate Utah, they just say they do because it's the easiest way to gain credit in the eyes of everyone around you who is not from Utah. I've seen this a million times in different scenarios. Everyone remember when the Lord of the Rings (LoTR) movies came out? Everyone loved 'em! Everyone was fascinated by 'em! After a few years, people began to forget that they liked them and started to agree with the few people who never liked them and said that they were “too slow” or “the third one took to long to end.” Whatever the case may be, it became popular to not like LoTR. And now, I struggle to find people who like LoTR.
I remember when my best friend growing up and I went to watch U-571. We both loved it. Then we got on the bus to go to school a month or so later (I think we were freshmen in high school) and I hear a few people talking about the movie. One of these people was a girl he liked. She didn't like it. “It was too slow” when translated this means “There wasn't any romance.” And guess what? Suddenly, my friend doesn't like the movie. He says it was (you ready for this?) “too slow.” So my theory here is that because it's the popular thing to do, people go along with it. Even if they don't think that way. They go along with what the crowd is doing. When are people going to stand up for what they really believe in? I've heard this so many times “If you feel you should stand up for what's right, then do it! There are probable tons of other people wanting to do the same thing but are too scared to do so. So be the one to step up and stand alone if necessary.” I heard that a thousand times growing up. I guess it never sunk in to anyone's head. So I guess that's part of the reason I'm writing this. To be the only person to stand against pomposity and disrespect. Alone if needs be.
My other theory is that they need Utah as a place where to self-proclaim themselves at the top. They get up in front of everyone, but instead of testifying of what's appropriate in that setting, they self-identify themselves as not being from Utah. But they don't do it in such a way that they simply say “I'm from (enter city and state here) and I came here for school, work, etc.” Yeah, that was a period at the end of that statement. I don't see a need to supplement that with a lame joke about the place you put yourself in. They need to bloat their ego and show just how prideful humanity can be. They need Utah for the prejudice with which they entered the state. This prejudgment of Utah is what allows their mind to continue in the idea that they are inherently better than all of Utah and therefore everyone who grew up there. They don't want to be challenged in the social setting like they were where they came from. Their prejudgment placed all Utahns below them and now they walk around with a bloated sense of self-worth thinking of themselves as kings/queens. They need Utah combined with their assumption of what Utah and Utahns are like so they can feel good about themselves. In essence, they are a bully. They refuse to leave Utah alone because it makes them feel better about themselves to speak badly of Utah and make some people laugh while doing it. I got news for ya though, most people aren't laughing with you, they're laughing at you for demonstrating your poor character.
I have to wrap this up with some questions... and feel free to post your answers in the comments. Why are you in Utah if you hate it so much and think everything needs to be changed? Why do you rise to the pulpit during a fast and testimony meeting and waste the short time you have to profess your belief in your God trying to joke about how you dislike Utah? Has it ever occurred to you that your hate speech about Utah is only showing the extent of your character rather than making everyone hate Utah with you? Kind of like Max Hall's hatred for the University of Utah. Did he bring attention to the wrongfulness of throwing beer on someone at a sporting event or did he sound like a little kid full of anger and hate? What do you sound like when all you do is talk about how much you hate the place you came to? Furthermore, what does that make you for staying in Utah and refusing to leave? I got tired of all the negativity in Utah, so I left. And I'm hoping to stay out of there for a while. I love it in Utah. I love the mountains, reservoirs, lakes, rivers, the space, and most of all, the snow! I just can't stand to be there right now. There is too much negativity and so little effort on the part of those negative persons to change their attitudes or situation. The way I see it, you have two options, change your attitude or change your situation. Stop expecting everyone else to change in order to make you happy. I guess that last sentence can be used for another argument coming soon.
Anyway, I hope this served to bring a little self awareness to those who have been lacking desperately in that department. Hopefully we can work to make the world a little brighter and lift others up rather than climbing on top of others to give us a sense of self worth. Honestly, if you don't like the place you are living, why don't you leave? Why don't you change your situation? Please, go where you are happiest and stay there! That way we can avoid all this negativity. Go and be happy! Don't stay and remain bitter. I am a strong believer in making a happy life for yourself. So please, put yourself in the situation that will make you happiest.