The People of Bountiful Are Extremely Friendly

My family recently moved into a new neighborhood in Bountiful, Utah. We are in a bigger house now, the drive to work is much shorter, and we have lots of fruit trees. My wife and I made a lovely pie from our fresh backyard peaches on Sunday. I couldn’t be happier.

One thing that has pleasantly surprised me is just how warm and friendly our neighbors are. I feel like my family has received a very warm welcome into the local community. I have experienced this sense of hospitality in other places where I have lived, but never quite as strongly as in Bountiful. When we were moving in, my mother told me how happy she was for us, because “the people are so polite and courteous there.” I haven’t been disappointed.

I’ve lived in four different neighborhoods in Bountiful and the people have been friendly in each of them. This begs the question: Is this a trend, or a coincidence? Are the people of Bountiful really friendlier than in other places, and, if so, why?

My theories are thus:

  1. The low crime rate makes people feel safe opening up to others in the community.
  2. The homogeneity in religion, culture, and heritage help people feel at home with one another. People feel comfortable around people who are like them.
  3. The very family-oriented lifestyle here helps people to love one another.
  4. The slower pace of life makes people more relaxed and less in a hurry.
  5. The people here are older (Bountiful’s median age is 32 compared to Utah’s 27, making it the 9th oldest in the state), and old people are friendlier.

Or, perhaps I am just starry-eyed. It’s impossible to determine something like this quantitatively, so I think I will never know for sure. But of all the places I’ve lived in Utah, this place feels the most like Zion.

3 thoughts on “The People of Bountiful Are Extremely Friendly

  1. Friedrich Nietzsche said (and I paraphrase) “The surest way to corrupt youth is to teach them to value those who think like them more than those who think differently.” I believe that a truly inviting culture is one in which dramatically different individuals can still feel at home.

    Kevin, I think it likely that you feel at home because you are a part of the homogeneity you praise. I could probably take each of your potential causes for Bountiful’s beneficence and describe to you how it is a self-attribution and not an environmental one. Try reaching outside of your own identity when making judgements.

    Your observations could also be ascribed to basic attribution error; confirmation bias states simply that when one is expecting something and wants to find it, one will–and one will exclude the evidence of what one wishes to not find.

    -Dwight

  2. The main point of my post is that my neighbors have been very friendly to my family so far. It is great to feel so welcome. I’m shy, so I am especially grateful for the hand of fellowship we’ve been offered.

    I think this hospitality is not due to the people being like me. In fact, it may very well be due to them being different. In my previous neighborhood in Kaysville, there were many more young families like mine, but the reception was not as warm. People tended to be focused on their own small families. I’m not one to go out of my way to be friendly to strangers, so if everyone here were like me, the fellowship would not have been as strong.

    I don’t think it’s because of homogeneity. But for some reason or other, and I don’t know exactly why, the people here are very nice. That makes me happy.

  3. I think it is unlikely that heterogeneity is the cause for your acceptance within the neighborhood–unless contact with you was an attempt to determine if you were a threat, or if you required religious intervention (if you know what I mean). If either of these is true, then it would be an indication of the covert unfriendliness of the region, not of its friendliness.

    We could assume that the people are more friendly in nature without having any preconceived notions about you–although it would then be likely that they have preconceived notions about their region. This may defend your claim that they are more friendly, but we must then ask how friendly they would be outside of their comfort zone–namely, Bountiful. But the idea that conservatives are generally accepting of other people is outside of the realm of my experience, as well as the realm of conservative ideology.

    It is possible that older people are friendlier, but I think it more likely that they are simply less preoccupied, more established, and more secure, and are therefore less likely to consider a challenge from a new member of the neighborhood to be a significant problem, or to fear latent or expressed intimidation within their zone of control.

    I have to consider local perspectives regarding national and global social phenomena when formulating a hypothesis. I guess that my main theory is that conservatives in a highly conservative area tend to feel secure and unconcerned about threats, especially when they feel like they are not only superior, but also that they have a large buffer zone between themselves and inferiority. The xenophobic element that is so intrinsic in American conservatism falls to the backs of their minds. If you had not been from where you are from, and had not shown evidence of being “family-oriented,” middle-class, and of the desired religious demographic (if you know what I mean), you may have discovered an entirely different kind of friendliness, one which retains its culturally-requisite smile but never brings cookies to your door again.

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