Why is Florida Man Always in the Headlines?

Toni Koraza

Photo by Jhefferson Santos from Pexels

Florida Man is a mystical figure that makes you read the same headline twice. Sometimes you have to call your parents and discuss your life after reading some of Florida's top stories.

  1. “Florida Man charged With Assult With a Deadly Weapon After Throwing Aligator Through Wendy’s Drive-thru Window”
  2. “Security Camera Catches Florida Man Licking Doorbell”
  3. "Florida Man Gets Tired of Waiting at Hospital, Steals Ambulance, Drives Home"

Florida Man is a neverending charade of shenanigans. The stories are real, but you're already familiar with the Man if you live in Miami or anywhere in Florida.

Many believe the Sunshine State is a special place because the headlines coming out of Florida are indeed something else.

“Florida Man Tries to Rob GameStop While Wearing Transparent Bag on His Head”

Is Sunshine State just different? Maybe the high temperatures, floodings, hurricanes, and margaritas are partially to blame. But the State of Florida has something else on its repertoire.

Florida is a meme state.

Men of Bizzare decadence are common on the streets of Miami. Just walk down Ocean Drive after 8 pm, and you’ll know that there’s something more to life in Florida than Cuban food and luxury cars.

Media Laws are different in Florida

Florida Man is not one guy.

It’s supposed to be the bread and butter of America’s crazy. Florida Man is a moniker for every disturbing event involving a person from the state. Colorado Man and New York Man don’t occupy the same headlines. They don’t exist as a central idea of crazy.

Journalists would top the essential information of each story. Instead of using names, many would include a common moniker “Florida Man” or a “Florida Woman.” The journalistic culture created the monster. Calling every one of these bizarre events helped the internet trace back Florida Man stories.

Florida Man became a meme around 2012. The Miami Canibal Story from June that year propelled Florida Man into pop culture. According to Lithub, that Florida Man smoked bath salts and chewed off a homeless man’s face. The story took off.

Some described it as a “Yankee nightmare in a human form.”

The Miami incident was ripe for the age of the internet. The meme culture was in its early days in 2012, and people loved to share these headlines.

Everybody with a DSL could connect to endless wildness.

Florida Man Challenge came soon after. Twitter, Reddit, and Facebook groups encouraged followers to google their birthdate + Florida Man. The idea was to discover your inner crazy.

Floridians never really pushed back against the Florida Man either. The headlines continued filling our cultural zeitgeist. Florida Man… Florida Woman….

“Florida Woman Charged with Stealing Rental Car Says ‘Demons Took It.’”

The Sunshine Act

We can’t say for sure what would happen. But maybe these headlines wouldn’t go as far if Florida wasn’t the first state to pass a unique 1st Amendment Law called The Sunshine Act.

The Sunshine Act has fundamentally changed journalism in Florida.

“Basically, any government document is available for reporters to go in and see.” — Craig Pittman

Reporters started knocking on Police Department doors, looking for crazy and ridiculous headlines. News changed. Stories were tailored for the readers. Sensationalism took over. Media became just another product to sell. And crazy sells like crazy.

Today, Florida Man is a cultural phenomenon also known as the internet meme. Unfortunately, many fail to realize there's a real person behind the Florida Man. Someone is suffering on the other end of that headline. We have depersonalized mugshots, and we’re making fun of them online.

However, it’s not just Florida. The man lives everywhere around us. He’s a resident of every state. Optics are the only difference. Florida is not crazier, not tamer than Arizona, Texas, New York, or California. It’s the same people.

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