Imagine waking up one morning to learn that your state has been definitively proven to be the “least fun” in the US. That’s a reality for West Virginians discovering a new WalletHub report about the country’s “most fun” states — though the findings aren’t exactly scientific.
The report compared all 50 states using 26 indicators of fun, including how many movie theaters there are per capita, accessibility to national parks, casinos per capita, and more. Yes, everyone’s concept of fun is vastly different. Yes, trying to settle on a common definition of fun is harder than agreeing on Monopoly rules, but why pass up an opportunity to dunk on West Virginia, Mississippi, and Delaware?
Despite the overwhelming subjectivity of this study’s premise, let’s break down why, exactly, states like West Virginia are considered no fun. Two key categories were considered in determining the rankings of the most fun states: Entertainment & Recreation and Nightlife. Then, metrics like “most casinos per capita” were graded on a 100-point scale for each state, and weighted averages were determined for each state to arrive at a total score.
The results were good news for California (as if it really needed the hype), which scored higher than any other state. Following closely behind are Florida, Nevada, and New York, with Colorado, Washington, Texas, Minnesota, Illinois, and Pennsylvania also cracking the top 10. California’s abundance of restaurants, movie theaters, performing arts venues, and fitness centers really put it over the top.
West Virginians, however, are probably curious why their state got snubbed. Well, it’s seemingly because they don’t have enough performing arts centers (though West Virginia’s Historic Theater Trail should not be looked over), fitness centers, and lack of variety in their arts, entertainment, and recreation establishments. Nevermind the fact that many consider fitness the opposite of fun and would rather go hiking to see incredible waterfalls like the ones found throughout West Virginia. The state is also tied for the lowest personal expenditures spent on recreation services. Because, you know, more expensive recreation is always more fun recreation.
But don’t cancel your trip to West Virginia just yet. Or Mississippi, Delaware, Arkansas, or Rhode Island either, for that matter. Ranking states by “fun” is as arbitrary as ranking states by the most popular music in a state. The volume of golf courses in a state does not correlate with “fun” unless you’re an avid golfer. It does, however, correlate with the number of preppy 20-somethings in your city crushing beers in broad daylight. To many, that alone might be reason enough not to live there.
Trying to squeeze a decidedly subjective topic into a set of objective criteria can be an interesting exercise, but it’s by no means an accurate reflection of reality. Not only are there thousands of potentially fun activities — certainly more than 26 — there’s also likely massive disagreement over whether most of those activities are fun at all.
So don’t feel too bad, West Virginia. And California, don’t let it go to your head. If fun were a measurable data point, it wouldn’t be very fun at all, now would it?