If you’ve ever wondered what the fastest way for me to unfriend you on Facebook is, it’s posting any “X Things That Only Y Type of People Will Understand” article. I get what they try to do: provide a unique group of people with a sense of community and pride for their quirks. The problem is that every item on these lists apply to a much broader audience than the author thinks. Here’s a particularly egregious one that’s making the rounds on Facebook: “10 Things Only People From Illinois Will Understand.” The author’s points are in bold, and my snark follows.
1. You Cringe Every Time You Hear Someone Say “Il-eh-NOISE” Everyone in the country knows that it’s “IL-IH-NOY” just like they know it’s “AR-KAN-SAW.” Everyone in the country should cringe if someone says “IL-EH-NOISE.” Besides, what’s far-and-away the most annoying pronunciation of the state’s name is “ELL-EH-NOY” and like half of everyone does that.
2. You’re Either A Chicagoan or A Northern Kentuckian Not sure who in the state identifies themselves as a “Northern Kentuckian,” especially considering Kentucky doesn’t make up huge part of Illinois’ border. I know that a lot of us up-state folk like to lump everything south of I-80 as “southern Illinois,” but after spending four years in college smack-dab in the middle of the state, I know there’s a lot of “central Illinois” pride.
3. Rubbing Honest Abe’s Nose Is Second Nature Personally, I prefer to high-five his kid.
4. Ketchup And Hot Dogs DO Not Go Together This one might have made sense on “Ten Things only People From Chicago Will Understand,” but not on this list. Clearly the author has completely forgotten the title of her post.
5. When It Comes To Baseball, There’s No Such Thing As A Fairweather Fan Sure, we love our baseball. But if you read on, the author claims “For Illinoisans, you’re either a Cubs fan or you’re a White Sox fan.” Again, forgetting there’s more to the state than Chicago, the author is ignoring the wide swaths of the state dominated by Cardinals fans. Take a peek at the NY Times fascinating interactive map on the geography of baseball fandom.
6. You Wear Shorts One Day And A Down Coat The Next As if Illinois is the only state that has weird weather. The entire northern half of the country could claim this one. I mean, how many lame stand-ups have used the same joke that whatever city they’re in that night is the “only city in the country where you can experience all four seasons in a single day.” Scientifically speaking, there are a number of states that experience wild temperature fluctuations more often then Illinois, particularly those affected by Chinook winds.
7. Orange On The Highway Means Summer The orange the author is referring to is construction cones, and apparently she thinks we’re the only state who does road work in the summer.
8. You Can Tell Corn From Soybeans In A Split-Second Yeah, Illinois is among the top corn- and soybean-producing states in the country. But so are Iowa, Indiana, and Nebraska. And a much higher percentage of their population lives in the rural areas. So they’re probably much more likely to differentiate those crops than us.
9. Starved Rock State Park Is The Most Beautiful Place Ever Starved Rock is beautiful, no question. But Starved Rock is constantly overrun by tourists more focused on taking selfies than staying on the trails. My advice: go in the dead of winter when the waterfalls are frozen and the crowds dwindle. Or travel a few more miles south and visit the equally beautiful and less crowded Matthiessen State Park.
10. Speed Limits Are Only A Suggestion The author goes on to say. “Illinois is pretty much the Autobahn.” Really? There were stretches of Montana highway that famously had no speed limit for a while.
Long story short: The people who write these articles aren’t as funny or special as they think they are. Let’s leave the top ten lists to Letterman.