Sacred Heart Cathedral's student-run newspaper. We've got issues.

The Emerald

Sacred Heart Cathedral's student-run newspaper. We've got issues.

The Emerald

Sacred Heart Cathedral's student-run newspaper. We've got issues.

The Emerald

A Nation Divided


In the polarized world that we live in today, it is easy to jump to conclusions about people who are different from us, but taking time to understand one another might prove that we all have more in common than we may think.

I have gone to sleepaway camp in Texas every summer since I was nine. Often when I tell people this, the response is “Texas, really?” Then I launch into a big speech about how my friends are actually really great people and that parts of Texas are a lot different than what is publicized on the news and social media. While I defend the idea that my two groups of friends are similar, I wanted to see if it held true by polling both my friends from San Francisco and my friends from Texas. To ensure my results weren’t skewed, I surveyed 15 girls from each state. While my sample of 30 friends doesn’t account for every person in a state, it does give a glimpse into the lives of teenage girls from two very different parts of the country.

I asked a total of 15 questions, beginning with easy-to-answer questions like “What’s your favorite movie?” and “What’s your favorite music genre?” These first sets of responses had common trends between each state. A simple example is that, between both CA teens and TX teens, Harry Potter and Pop music accounted for 45% of responses. 

What surprised me was the response to my 7th question- “Do you have presumptions about people from Texas (if in CA) or California (if in TX)?” The results showed that 93% of people responded “yes.” These assumptions could simply be based on what social media markets and what the news broadcasts, as none of my friends in TX know any of my friends in CA and vice versa, yet both are so quick to judge one another. In a follow-up conversation, I asked senior Chloe Thorpe what she believes Texans are like; she responded simply, “Really redneck.” Similarly, when asking my Texas friend, Riley McDaniel, she said that Californias are all either “vloggers, influencers, or surfers.”

Do you have presumptions about people from Texas (if in CA) and California (if in TX)?

My data suggested that political perspectives could be an additional dividing factor. About 65% of my friends identified as Democrats, with almost 40% stating that they supported current gun control laws. But, presenting this data in a simple black-and-white way is exactly what separates our states.

My friends in CA may look at this with the idea that my friends in TX are raging, gun-loving, conservative Republicans, but that is simply not true. Actually, both groups of friends do similar activities in their free time: eat burgers, get ice cream, and listen to Taylor Swift. What data cannot reflect is the beliefs behind these numbers. The reason why my TX friends may support gun laws is because hunting is part of their lifestyle, while hunting is not a common practice among my California friends. A conversation between my friends may help each group understand the other on a deeper level.

Do you support current gun laws?

Fundamentally, we are all human. All my friends are stressed about college applications, school projects, and sports. They all hang out with their friends and enjoy their state’s fast food burger shop (Whattaburger or In-N-Out). The misconceptions about one another stem from data that is not personalized or explained. While yes, there are differences in beliefs and lifestyle, each teenage girl is wondering and worrying about similar things.

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