It’s something I’ve talked about before, but I think “Dead Malls Predicted the Erosion of Public Space in America” by Rachel Presser is a good read, discussing the unfortunate decay of public spaces in the United States, and the impact it has on our sense of community, feelings of isolation and loneliness, and our general mental health.
But perhaps we mock because it’s the only way to come to the grips with the fact that we’re just losing places we can actually go without immediately being hustled out once we’ve dropped some cash.
It’s happening whether you live in a small town or one of the largest cities in the nation: places where we can just congregate and socialize freely are being yanked out from under us. To say nothing of how this disproportionately impacts young people who seem to have even less autonomy and rights than when I was their age; as even adults with decent incomes and control over their time thanks to remote jobs and freelancing are finding themselves lonelier than expected with very few places to go.
But when discussing Millennial loneliness, is no one seriously noticing how few places we have to go compared to yesteryear? Blame us being buried in our phones all you want, for a lot of us it’s the only way to find other people at the rate we’re going.Rachel Presser
That our privatization of everything has done significant harm to our society is, in my opinion, indisputable at this point. I don’t think it’s irreparable, but I do think it’s going to take conscious effort and perhaps broader support than things currently have. There have certainly been attempts to revitalize areas by making areas more walkable, bringing in new businesses, updating shared spaces, and so on. But I think their success ends up depending a lot also on the intentionality of the people governing and participating in that area. If they want an area to feel alive, then they need to reconcile a disdain for “loitering”. The same practices they use to make an area “hostile” to homeless also drive away others who might gather in that area. You also have to let go of some degrees of control, and understand that an area is going to evolve and grow on its own, and if you try to force an area to be “just so”, you stifle the sort of organic community you are (in theory) trying to cultivate.
Just more food for thought.