Are people from SF better than everyone else?

I had a disappointing experience in San Fransisco the one time I was there. I was there overseeing the final production of an exhibit I had designed for a computer industry trade show. We have an office in San Jose, although our primary office is in Minneapolis, where I work.

So anyway, we were working with some of the other vendors there during set-up and this guy I had just been introduced to asked me if I come up to San Fransisco often. I said “No, actually, I’m based in Minneapolis.” To this he replied “Oh, I’m sorry,” in a tone that sounded not apologetic, not joking, but condesending.

As I walked around the city for the rest of my stay, I saw trendy miniature entrees served beautifully. I saw plenty of designer clothes and expensive automobiles. And that statement kept coming back to me. I left SF with a stereotype that I could not, and can not yet shake.

To all the SFans reading this, I apologize for the negative sterotype I’m relating, and ask those among you who are well-travelled to offer your opinions.

Postscript: And why is it bad to say ‘Frisco?’ Chi-town is not the proper name for Chicago, yet they don’t make a point to inform you of the ‘acceptable’ name of their metropolis.

Oh. I thought you were asking if Science Fiction fans are better than everyone else.

In the 80s, the company I was working for transferred me from here in Chicago to the SF Bay area and I stayed there a number of years. I never lived in SF itself, but I encountered a condescending attitude about Chicago twice in casual conversation during that time. When this occurs in a city that’s reputed to be more accepting of differences than elsewhere, it really stands out. I was absolutely shocked both times it happened.

Of course, here in the Midwest we tell California jokes like this classic: “Q. How many Californians does it take to change a light bulb? A. Five. One to change the bulb, and four to share the experience.” Some Californians don’t think that’s funny. I do. :slight_smile:

There are plenty of nice people in San Francisco. You just happened to run into their version of a first-class asshole/snob.

Although I have never lived in San Francisco proper, I have resided in the SF Bay Area for my entire life. There are numerous things that can contribute to such an attitude, regardless of how rude such snootiness is.


This area has one of the most diverse groups of people in the world. It is much more difficult to maintain any sort of backwater bigotry without being called on it pretty d@mn quick. The same goes for anti-semitism and homophobia too. The large scale immigration of both Asian and Hispanic people to this region automatically imposed an unavoidable degree of cosmopolitan aspect. To understand the reasons for why there is less social stratification it is necessary to examine the origins of culture as well.

The gold rush brought to California people with incredibly diverse backgrounds. A consistent pattern among them was the willingness to take risks and respect for an individual’s labor. A sterling example is when a Confederate slave owner showed up in the gold fields. The other miners were outraged. Not at having to work with black folk as one might think back in an era of institutionalized racism. What was so irritating was that the black men did not get to profit from their labor and someone who did not work at all reaped the rewards.

Because the West was a place where people came to start their lives over, there were many ex-criminals and failed business men. It became ingrained into the culture to judge a person by their words and deeds instead of their “social standing” or background. This in turn engendered a distaste for people who relied solely on their breeding for status. For this reason this area is less socially stratified than the East coast.

Because of the gold rush, there were literally hundreds of overnight millionaires. These people, who frequently started out dirt poor, often would delegate a large portion of their wealth to acquiring the trappings of high culture. Fine houses were built on the hills of San Francisco. Famous opera singers were brought to perform. The local agriculture allowed for excellent foods to be served, and once again, the varied population made for all sorts of exotic cuisine being available.

The substantial economy that derived from the extraction of several billion (if not trillion in today’s numbers) dollars of gold from the California foothills also created its own brand of business man as well.

The gold rush mentality inculcated the participants with a proclivity for risk taking almost alien to the more staid financial institutions of the East coast. The instant accumulation of wealth made for the blossoming of large scale commercial enterprise. It is seen to this day in the entrepreneurial attitudes of Silicon Valley.

The willingness to take risks has allowed the state of California to become the economic engine of the planet. The local state economy is currently eighth in the entire world surpassing that of many industrially developed nations. This becomes a self propagating mechanism that continues to attract wealth from around the world.

With the enormous wealth that continues to flow into this region there is a concomitant influx of educated people as well. To foster this knowledge there have been many Universities built to utilize and disseminate this learning. As the gold fields once attracted people of all backgrounds, so too do the current institutions of higher learning. The SF Bay Area specifically serves as a magnet for some of the most educated people on earth. The number of Nobel Laureates that derive from our local community is pretty much unsurpassed on a demographic basis.

Due to the overall degree of education and wide cultural base of those educated people, there is a greater degree of social tolerance for people of different faiths, creeds and orientation. This disinhibits such constraints as religious prohibitions and other overarching restrictions upon learning, behavior and attitude. Because of this atmosphere of freedom and free thinking, a level of innovation and discovery unknown to many regions of the planet finds comfortable foothold here.

All of this brings us full circle to the issues of population and culture originally mentioned at the beginning of this post. For this reason, you will often meet people who are convinced of the outstanding and often superior nature of this region. Without going into further detail, the weather and food supply also contribute to the internal perception that this area is unique to any nation on earth and remains so to this day.

If people occasionally come off as a bit smug about living here it is for well established reasons. Please remember that it remains both insolent and rude to rub someone else’s nose in it, but the feeling of satisfaction this area brings with it is undeniable.

I hope that this clarifies the encounter that you had. Please visit this area again some time so that you might gain further appreciation for the natural and cultural wonder that is the San Francisco bay area.

Thanks, zgystardst, for the reply. I can see that there is a lot in Frisco that rightly instills pride in its residents. You talked a lot about there being less social stratification than what you would experience elsewhere, ex-criminals trying to start over, and a distaste for people who relied solely on their breeding for status, etc. The environment you described sounds like an Eden that I would never want to leave.

However, when I visited Frisco, I experienced an environment where I was looked down on because I was from some backwater fork in the road in the middle of the country. But, I fully understand that maybe I was just hanging around some poor ambassadors for Frisco.

However, in all of my travels, I only recieved that pity once. By contrast, when I traveled to North Carolina for a photo shoot, the photographer had admirable pride in his land. He took me to this place called Lexington Barbeque that stands unequalled in both his and my book for barbeque (this unassuming place that only takes cash has catered the White House). And if you’ve ever been to Chapel Hill you would see why it was voted one of the best places in the U.S. to live, to say nothing of the incredibly talented bands that have sprung from the place (Squirrel Nut Zippers, Ben Folds Five, Southern Culture on the Skids). Yet, he never looked down his nose at me. He asked questions and showed interest about Minnesota.

I hope that SFans understand that the many wonderful, admirable features that make their city a wonderful place are not unique to Frisco alone. Even in my backwoods Wisconsin home town (pop 2500), in my family alone, I can count a gay brother and a Muslim sister. Believe it or not, they have not been disowned. Believe it or not, it’s no more an issue than the color of one’s eyes.

Many people have pride in where they are from, I certainly do. I think that’s why it affected me when that fella pitied me for being from the Midwest. If not ignorant, it seemed like a bigoted thing to do.

With that said, it would be bigoted of me to insist that somehow an entire city of people could be rude, and postede this topic to hear evidence to the contrary, not so much to explain why such behavior does exist.

Whoops, the previous response was not to zgystardst, but to Zenster.

I don’t know how much of California you’ve been to BSerum(I’m ASerum BTW) but whenever I’ve heard comments like that, it’s been in jest (so far I’d only seen high strung NYers actually take offense). It’s similar to the rivalry between LA :frowning: :eek: and SF :cool: :D. As has been noted, the SF area is very diverse, which means it has bigots and other maggots, too. You may just have been lucky enough to meet one.

Of course, one hallmark of prejudice is to judge/generalize the members of a group based on one or a few. I’ve met some obnoxious blacks, jews, and whites (or midwesterners), but I don’t say, why are blacks, jews, or whites (or midwesterners) like that?

This may be to strident, and I do hope the person you encountered was just bad at making a joke (some of my best friends are midwesterners :))

A good friend of mine who is christian, told me once that you shouldn't look to christians for an example of what christians should be. You should check it out for yourself. While that statement didn't convert me, I think it may be apropo in this case.

Thanks, PosterChild. I think you’re absolutely right. I guess I’m just searching for some positive examples to nullify a bad experience.

I live in the Bay Area and can tell you that the vast majority of annoying people you meet are not from here.

chances are, those people making snide comments just moved here 3 years ago from Oregon. San Francisco is now the counter-culture capital of America! if you’re the coolest person in Illinois, you better head out to the City (the only name pretentious enough to be proper) and prove how cool you are when you get here.

makes for a lot of insecure people. and since they probably got made fun of when they arrived, they’re going to pass that on to you.

I’m from Los Angeles myself and have lived here for 10 years (well, Oakland, actually) and haven’t met too many obnoxious natives. us transplants can be a tough crowd, though.

it’s also sad to see 38-year-olds with blue hair and somewhat-trendy clothes–when are you allowed to stop being cool?

I agree San Francisco is a great place. In fact California in general is a great place. In fact it’s so great, I hope someday San Franciscans will actually start living in San Francisco, and stop moving here, buying huge ass SUVs and clogging our roads.