Is 'Minnesota Nice' a myth? Transplants say they struggle with 'frosty' natives

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Is "Minnesota Nice" a myth? That's been up for debate in recent weeks, amid reports that "transplants" to the state say they feel less than welcome.

CityPages in October published an article called "Minnesota Ice: Twin Cities transplants think we're kind jerks," speaking with several transplants who found it difficult to make friends in Minnesota.

One of them, Baton Rouge-native Jared Townsend, admitted he is a "shy person" but on the occasions he would attempt to make nice with the Minnesotans he found them "so close knit with their friends" that it's "hard to break into that circle."

This is similar to another complaint described in the article, that Minnesotans are unfailingly "smiley" and "super polite," but make it difficult to get to know them.

This week on Reddit, a transplant to the Twin Cities went on a lengthy rant about why he intends to leave the Twin Cities, and while the horrendous winter was one of his main complaints, among the others was:

"The frosty and passive-aggressive natives who are polite but don’t ever let you become their friend; the nasally and condescending middle-aged women I deal with at work (I call them the “Carol Andersons”), the sense of complacency and smug contentment in the belief that Minneapolis/St.Paul/Minnesota is (obviously) the best place to live."

Needless to say his contentions polarized opinion in the responses, but there were several Redditors who agreed with his point of view.

One of them described trying to gain acceptance into a friend group.

"Once you get an in on a MN native (born and raised usually), there's a massive network that you are now privy to. Just one likely gets you 15-20 contacts that you can visit/see any time. However, you'll likely have to work on a single one of those 15-20 because this part is what people whine about. To truly make it into an MN native network you hit up one person or one group over and over until it sticks. Took me 15-20 meetings and I'm thinking that's a low ball."

This supposed phenomenon has even got business leaders concerned.

The Twin Cities Business Magazine wrote last month they are worried Minnesota has a reputation for not embracing newcomers, which in turn could result in a labor shortage in future decades if people are put off moving to the state.

The article notes 72 percent of Minnesotans are natives and while the state does well at retaining talented workers who move here from other parts of the country, getting them to move here in the first place is tougher.

"The data shows we can do a better job at welcoming and onboarding newcomers," Greater MSP's Peter Frosch told the magazine.

But not everyone agrees. On Thursday, Wisconsin-native but now Minnesota resident Geoff Harbach wrote for the Star Tribune, telling transplants to "back off the locals" – saying anyone struggling to make friends should embrace their local community, and put themselves in situations where people want them to be involved.

Those who aren't as forthcoming, for example at work, probably don't want to get in the way of doing your own thing.

"Maybe some Minnesotans are passive-aggressive, like the online commenters say," he writes. "But most of us aren’t. When I smile at you, it means I’m genuinely glad you’re here. I’m not faking it. I’m glad you showed. I’m a little awkward, that’s all. ... Also, I just want to get home to get some dishes done, or some reading, or some writing, or some laundry. I really just want to go home."

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