Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Burb Trap


I went to the suburbs tonight for a party. Some of the evening festivities included beer pong, that "bags" yard game, and bud light. If you know me even a little bit, you know that this is not my idea of a good time. On the contrary, it is quite the opposite. Bud light, bags and beer pong is my recipe for a bad time. But hey, it was the suburbs. It's what I expected.

We recently watched Revolutionary Road. It definitely made the suburbs look like a hellish place for independently-minded people to live. And indeed, they are. The suburbs exist for families, comfort and safety. Quite a contrast against cities, which are host to artists, liberal thinkers, noise and unsafe environments. People like myself decide to live in the city because of these attributes. And, it's not boring. Progressive people dwell in the city, settled people dwell in the suburbs.

So this is the trap of the burbs. In an environment where nobody is taking chances on a daily basis, the most excitement people can find is on a TV or theater screen. In the city, you couldn't avoid an interesting person or story for more than a few hours. It's all around you.

Since the suburb environment is built upon safety and comfort, the collective spirit of adventure is quite low. People are trying to remain settled and safe in the suburbs. They value security over risk-taking, be that financially, politically or artistically. If an idea to join the Peace Corps comes to a person in the suburbs, they're going to have a much harder time making their decision than the city-dweller. The suburbanite is comfortable where they are. They're safe. Why take a risk? If risks must be made, well, they should be done at the casino or OTB. Then, after the risk is good and taken, they can return to their four-bedroom house, park their car in one of their three garages, and sleep in silence. Far away from even the possibility of sirens or gunshots. Safe and sound suburbia.

Oh but the city! The city is full of artists. Full of ideas. Your odds of going on a new adventure tomorrow are great in the city. If you don't like the traffic here, get rid of your car. If you're scared of getting mugged, carry mace. If it's too noisy, maybe get real stop being such a whiny little pussy.

Or if you want, go ahead and play beer pong in the suburbs. Keep paying tribute to your college days. Don't budge. Stay trapped. Don't walk anywhere unless you have a shopping cart in front of you. Go ahead, I'm sure that's a fine life to live. It worked out well for the Wheelers, right?

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