SaturnIX, if you are waiting for the "rural backwoods" to "catch up" with a cosmopolitan major city like Atlanta, well that just ain't gon' happen. But I would suggest you evaluate your metrics, and make room in your narrative for the undercurrents, the furtive conversations, the privately-held, perhaps still inchoate feelings that many a southern-born at this moment most definitely hold that things are not as they should be in the world. And that the world that matters is indeed bigger that the county, state, or even Mason-Dixon line can contain. I'm currently in Austin, which is much like Atlanta. But I have roots in those backwoods you disparage. So do many of my friends. Some came here attracted by the city lights, others were running away... There is a tendency to enclave in our highly mobile modern society. But we would write off the sticks, the podunks, the COUNTRY, at our own peril.
I often choose to play devil's advocate on these threads against common assumptions about unpolished places and spaces. Assumptions that write people and places off have suffused with the affirmation-algorhythms of Facebook, search engines and what I call "click-bait activism" to lead many to view vast swaths of the US as unredeemable wastes. Get out of your comfort zone and just go talk to people. Don't preach or persuade. Just shoot the shit and go from there.