If someone were to visit the place where you live for the first time, what do you think would stand out to the person? Would it be a food that’s popular in your region? Might it be your accent or a unique turn of phrase? Would it be the climate? Maybe it would be some social custom, like the way people greet one another or say goodbye?
In other words, what are some of the things that make the place where you live unique?
In “Explaining the South on Instagram, One Custom at a Time,” Rick Rojas writes about Landon Bryant, an influencer who found an audience by sharing the quirks, characters and customs that make his small town in Mississippi distinct:
If you had a certain kind of upbringing in the South, you likely know the strict hierarchy that dictates who brings the potato salad and cornbread to a covered-dish supper and who is responsible for the paper plates.
There is a good chance you know the difference between moseying and meandering. Just as you understand that a prayer request can be a genuine call for divine assistance on someone’s behalf — and a loophole for relaying gossip without, technically speaking, engaging in it.
But not everyone can have that sort of home training, bless their hearts. That’s where Landon Bryant comes in.
He has covered all of this and plenty more in his daily videos posted on social media on the customs and mannerisms he learned growing up in small-town Mississippi.
“The Lord laid it on my heart and we all need to lift her up because — insert information here,” Mr. Bryant explained in the video detailing how one might go about gossiping by way of a prayer request.
“The prayer list,” he added, “is sort of a news feed.”
With his sweep of silky shoulder-length hair and soft drawl that cloaks a devilishly sly sense of humor, Mr. Bryant, 35, has become a fixture on Instagram, TikTok and YouTube with his explanation and exploration of what it means to be Southern.
A lot of it is food: Grits, fried green tomatoes, sweet potato pie, divinity, corn nuggets, hot tamales and crawfish are just some of the delicacies he has discussed. He has done soliloquies on social protocol (a phone call should never end with a quick goodbye), language (defining “might could” and “fixing to”) and Mississippi’s climate (the humidity can feel like wearing “a sweater full of Vaseline”).
Since February, his “Landon Talks” posts have amassed hundreds of thousands of followers, many from around the world — a testament to the odd fascination that has always surrounded the quirks, characters and complicated history of the South.
Students, read the entire article and then tell us:
What is something new you learned about the South from this article? Does Mr. Bryant’s perspective make you see the region in a different way? You can watch some of his videos, too. Which do you find most interesting, and why?
Mr. Bryant shares with his followers what is singular about the South. What is unique about your town, state or region of the country? What features — such as customs, traditions, food, superstitions, words, phrases and climate — make it different from other places?
Choose one of the things you listed above and explain it as you would in a TikTok or Instagram post. What do you think this custom says about the place where you live and the people who live there?
Mr. Bryant realized that his videos could help younger generations “figure out which Southern traditions were worth preserving, and which were best left behind.” Which traditions from where you live are worth preserving? Which are best left behind? Why?
Students 13 and older in the United States and Britain, and 16 and older elsewhere, are invited to comment. All comments are moderated by the Learning Network staff, but please keep in mind that once your comment is accepted, it will be made public and may appear in print.