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The Origins of the Florida Man

The stories draw attention to Florida's alleged notoriety for bizarre and unusual events. The Miami New Times reported that Florida's freedom of information laws make it easier for reporters to get information about arrests from the police than in other states, and that this is the reason for the high number of news articles. The sunny state is full of strange stories. From failed robberies to deadly cockroach-eating races, there seems to be a wild story about a Florida man every day of the year. 

But behind all of this, there are sometimes deeper elements in many stories about "Florida." Florida’s public records law, also known as the Sunshine Law, makes it easy for journalists to obtain police incident reports and publish reports that cause concern. Of course, despite having such strong investigative capabilities, every news organization is also looking for the next viral report.

In addition, with cash-strapped media brands firing reporters, Florida's sunny laws, coupled with the viral appeal of Florida Man, enabled retail outlets to efficiently provide the Internet with high volumes of stories, sensational crimes, with minimal cost and relatively little effort. In short, the Florida Man became a global social media phenomenon. Internet users were encouraged to Google the phrase along with their date of birth to find out what scams involving nudity, alcohol, exotic animals, and sometimes all three.

However, while satirical, the Daily Show suggested that Florida's open records laws were responsible for wider media coverage of captivating stories than would otherwise be possible in other states. He also touched on the darker themes of many Florida stories, most notably poverty and deprivation, substance abuse, and domestic and sexual violence, and questioned the legitimacy of ridicule of less privileged societies. While Florida as a whole is not a poor state, it ranks fifth in income inequality according to a 2018 study, with most of its wealth concentrated in the South.

Florida, the southernmost state of mainland America and the last border, has 21 million inhabitants and 90 million visitors a year. Florida is king when it comes to oddities, which has long been a recurring joke. Due to the oral traditions of these newspapers and the swamps, Florida has become a fairy tale for Florida residents such as Paul Bunyan and John Henry. Most of these sources represent the oral traditions of the Gulf Coast villagers, including the swamps and their less mutated neighbors.

The Florida Man is a microcosm of how many of us struggle with online ethics and how easily a crooked joke can turn into anecdote. In fact, this is not one person, but rather a bunch of all the men in Florida who have done something … unusual. 

If someone tells you they understand Florida, don't believe them.  What it has is strict public records laws that make it easier to get mug shots and arrest reports than many other states.

RESOURCES

  1. Barach, P. (2018, April 12). The Origin of Florida Man: The World’s Worst Superhero. Medium. https://medium.com/@PaulBarach/the-origin-of-florida-man-the-worlds-worst-superhero-34df69c806c3

  2. Brandon, J. (2021, July 6). When a Florida Man Researches His Home State for a Book (Police Not Involved!). Literary Hub. https://lithub.com/when-a-florida-man-researches-his-home-state-for-a-book-police-not-involved/

  3. A Brief History of ‘Florida Man’ | Florida’s Most Notorious Criminal. (2018, April 26). Kaire & Heffernan. https://www.kairelaw.com/history-of-florida-man/

  4. Florida Man | Fallout Fanon Wiki | Fandom. (n.d.). Fallout Fanon Wiki. https://falloutfanon.fandom.com/wiki/Florida_Man

  5. Hill, L. (2019, July 15). Is it okay to laugh at Florida Man? Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/magazine/wp/2019/07/15/feature/is-it-okay-to-laugh-at-florida-man-2/

  6. Luscombe, R. (2019, May 21). Florida Man: what lies behind the Sunshine State’s crazy stereotype? The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/may/21/florida-man-what-lies-behind-the-sunshine-states-crazy-stereotype

  7. Norman, B. (2019, May 30). Who is Florida Man? Columbia Journalism Review. https://www.cjr.org/business_of_news/florida-man-news.php

  8. Orjoux, M. C. L. A. A. (2019, March 22). Florida man challenge: Why so many crazy stories come out of the state. CNN. https://edition.cnn.com/2019/03/22/us/florida-man-google-challenge-trnd/index.html

  9. Smart, G. T. C. (2019, March 25). Why is ‘Florida Man’ a thing, when ‘Pennsylvania Man’ (or Iowa Man or Ohio Man) isn’t? Treasure Coast Newspapers. https://eu.tcpalm.com/story/opinion/editorials/2019/03/25/heres-why-florida-man-thing/3266020002/

  10. Vareikaite, V. (2019, March 15). 60 Times Florida Man Did Something So Crazy We Had To Read The Headings Twice. Bored Panda. https://www.boredpanda.com/hilarious-florida-man-headings/?utm_source=panel.ai-writer&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=organic

  11. Wilson, C. (2019, June 26). Florida Man or Not Florida Man? Guess Which of These Stories Happened in Florida. Time. https://time.com/5608485/florida-man-quiz/