Have You Heard the Term West Michigan Nice? Here’s What it Means
Have you heard the term "West Michigan nice"? It's something I was unfamiliar with until a viral Tiktok introduced me to it. So, what does it mean?
Being West Michigan Nice
A quick Google search led me to a 2017 Linkedin article titled, "Is "West Michigan Nice" Hurting Your Business?" In it, the article's author, Ken Bogard, defined the term as a "strange cultural loophole around issues where you can’t seem to get full honesty from your closest neighbor, your coworker, and sometimes even your family."
The example he gave involved a woman named Charlotte who had recently moved from Chicago to Grand Rapids:
One day, Charlotte was picking her child up from school when she ran into Hannah (another mom at the school and a longtime native of West Michigan). Hannah asked how the family was settling in and said how glad she was that their boys were getting along so well. Her friendliness was gushing. But within the same week, Hannah had filed a complaint with the principal about a behavioral issue involving Charlotte’s son. Hannah had never given the slightest inclination that there were any issues between the two boys.
Charlotte went on to wonder if there was a hidden agenda behind the original conversation. Read more here.
Is This Just a Grand Rapids Thing?
Perhaps the reason I had yet to hear this term is that it seems to be centralized to Grand Rapids. Emphasis on seems to be.
Similar to the above Linkedin article, an article published in 2021 by the Grand Rapids Business Journal described West Michigan Nice as,
the love-without-truth side of things.
While bigger cities, like Chicago, tend to confront issues with more truth and "less love." Read the full article here.
Furthering my suspicion that this phenomenon is experienced in the Grand Rapids area more than others, the Tiktok video mentioned at the beginning of this post also points out Grand Rapids specifically.
The creator, @iblamebill, describes West Michigan Nice as leaving you with a feeling of being insulted even though no one in the conversation raised their voice, no one used any curse words, or used any direct threats of violence. And yet, you're angry. Take a look:
While this creator is directly calling out an organization, people in the comments seem to confirm that West Michigan Nice is, in fact, a thing.
Having grown up in the GR area...let's just say there are many reasons I moved to East Michigan. - Arianna D.
West Michigan, the land of ‘you don’t belong here’ Without saying a word, only looks. - immenotyou0
Waving from A2 👋 Lived in Holland for a while and yeeeah… you’ve got it exactly right - Amanda
I knew you were talking about GR as soon as you said West Michigan. - FrippWire
It seems to be an experience shared by many. Which, is really unfortunate and disappointing. If you've walked away from a conversation and feel confused about why you're feeling irritated or angry, perhaps you've just been West Michigan Niced, as @iblamebill puts it.
I'm going to be honest, wrapping up this article is proving to be difficult. Yes, I've learned something new, maybe you have too, but...it's kind of a bummer, no?
Wherever there is a human being, there is an opportunity for a kindness.