The quintessential picture of the American Dream. Littered with nice, quiet neighborhoods, barbeques, softball games and fences surrounding every yard. Everyone must strive to be 'normal' in the faces of others, and extreme gossip is a must. Note: should be avoided by anyone with original ideas at all costs, as the main purpose of the suburbs is to suck the life out of fresh ideas.

Suburbs are places where people build houses to try and get away from other people and have larger yards. The result of this is that people are more spread out. Where before people could walk to work or the store, now they have to drive there.

This way of living is by far the most wasteful thing anyone could possibly devise. Not only does society destroy its pristine wilderness areas and farmland, but society itself is slowed in its progress because reduced contact with other people reduces the spread of ideas from one person to another. People thus have less to think about as they waste the non-renewable resources of the Carboniferous age by driving further than anyone should have to go to get someplace they have to be on a daily basis.

The less people have to think about, the worse civilzation will seem to its members. In cities, however, ideas still flow from one person to another with little effort. This is why culture genrally flows from city to suburb after a considerable period of time. The trouble is that as more people go to the suburbs and like them (I suspect they're the sort who don't like to admit mistakes), the balance of power in a democracy is weighted toward those who have no understanding of the importance of cities.

Specificly, suburbanites have little or no concept of the interdependence of all people. We are all connected to and dependent upon all other members of society for everything we have. This includes both culture and material possessions. None of us exists independently of others, and this is a fact that suburbanites would like to obscure from themselves by hiding their search for happiness behind a privacy fence. By taking money away from urban projects like public transportation, inner city schools, and social welfare in general, suburbanites may well lead to the downfall of civilization.

mblase: re Suburbs will eventually be the downfall of civilization: High-density city areas are the primary cause of higher crime and, ironically, fewer personal relationships. This is documented. How can this be a bad thing?

Me: Personally, I don't like being robbed, most people feel the same. That is why it's a bad thing. The cause of this crime tends to be economic inequality. I do not think that it's a bad thing that rich people are robbed by poor people if the government is so corrupt that the poor have no hope for getting what they need in any other way. My biggest point is that urban areas make society more connected. I think urbanites will have a greater appreciation of the idea of equality of oportunity and have more realistic ideas for achieving it.

As for fewer personal relationships, again, perhaps this is personal, but I kinda like to be able to tell people to fuck off. Although the number of people you may consider friends is lower in an urban area, those friends tend to be higher in shared interests than those in rural or suburban areas. Cities allow you to sort though vast quantities of people and keep contact with only the ones you want. The lower the population density, the less choice you have.

Suburban adults don't realize their life is their prison. A locked cage of responsibility. Work the job, save for retirement, send the kids to college, have thirty minutes of sex twice a week, eat well, go to church, visit your neighbors. Every day of every week of every month of every year, forever. They mustn't think about it much, for the sake of their sanity. They hide it from themselves so well that if you mention it to most of them, you get a blank look and the reply "but I really enjoy my life!"

They're lying. Witness the plastic surgery, SUVs, quiet alcoholism, television, driving fast on the highway, cheating on taxes, cheating on spouses, midlife crises. Mindless destructive consumption, to recapture a youth they didn't enjoy having the first time around. Fantasies of escape vivid in their eyes; as much as they can't admit it to themselves, they'd rather be somewhere (anywhere), or someone (anyone) else. But they've taken their lot and chosen their path. They've done it all to themselves, so they convince themselves that they enjoy it, or risk exposure to dangerous novelty.

Perfectly and individually designed torture by endless boredom, with each of them convinced it's what they want.

Also, in suburbia there is always at least one child for every adult. The children don't start out with the defense mechanisms the adults all have, though. They can see the prison and the prisoners for what they are, but can do zero about it. Thus they are prisoners too, and in a worse prison than their parents, for they can see the bars.

Some of them adapt the same way their mothers and fathers did, by making believe that everything will be okay. They play games with balls and lead cheers and make the honor roll and date somebody nice. They know the pain will be over soon; soon they'll be happy, smiling adults with their very own mortgaged house and SUV and two children. They usually get their wish.

Others are too sensitive to walk that route; the bars are just so solid and black and hopeless that they can't be ignored. They realise ignoring the steel only makes it stronger, and try to find a way through. They try drugs, college, crime, extreme looks and ideas, and doing whatever is opposite to their parents' wishes. If you ask them, they're "living their own life" and "doing whatever they want." They're totally convinced of their freedom, as convinced as their elders and peers.

They hide the prison by acknowledging it, and pretending they want out. But always in their hearts is the knowledge that their "rebellious phase" will someday be over. Someday their biological clock will catch up to their lifestyle, and they'll take a spouse and have a child, and get a nice house in a nice neighborhood of a nice town. It's inevitable for them too, it just takes a few extra years.

The inevitability is the saddest part, really. The fact that so achingly few suburbanites will ever get out. So few will ever find a life they never expected, but still love. And, conversely, so many will end up with the life they always expected, but can't admit that they hate. A life as a clean-cut, happy, respected, productive member of suburban society: a pig, in a cage, on antibiotics.

"Suburbs will eventually be the downfall of civilization"?

What a peculiar idea. After all, suburbs developed as a direct result of the development of civilization -- specifically, the development of large cities. As the Industrial Age progressed and more and more people moved from the rural farmlands into the cities to find work in factories, the cities themselves became crowded, dirty -- indoor plumbing hadn't been perfected yet -- and crime-ridden. Those who made their wealth in the cities could afford a higher level of comfort, but the majority of those living there were blue collar workers, and they couldn't.

Until one marvelous invention changed everything, that is: the train. Not the cross-country locomotives that hauled freight and passengers from one part of the world to another, but the smaller metropolitan rail networks that moved people around the city itself. Suddenly it was practical to live outside the city while still working inside of it, and the worker's daily commute was born -- and so was the suburb.

In these small cities that grew up around the large ones, people could build homes with a comfortable amount of space rather than being crowded into small apartments with poor sanitation. They could get married and raise families without being surrounded by crime, noise and pollution on a daily basis. Children could go out and run around with a reasonable assurance of safety. It offered all the benefits of rural life without the effort of maintaining a farm or the forced removal from city life. Who wouldn't be willing to sacrifice about an hour twice a day to commute in and out of the city factories, if it meant all of that?

Today, there are almost as many people living in the suburbs of any major metropolis as there are in the city itself, and a few other innovations have come along in the meantime. The automobile, as it developed throughout the first half of the twentieth century, became an efficient replacement for the intra-city train -- although that efficiency decreases as intra-city traffic rises higher and higher. As the suburbs grew larger and larger, they naturally became more and more self-sustaining. Couple that with increased telecommunications and transportation technology, and today most suburban towns can and do operate almost entirely independent of the cities that birthed them.


Why do so many urban dwellers have such a strong loathing for the suburbs, then? After all, the suburbs are the only reason they can live comfortably inside the city rather than being crowded in by their fellow workers. Even as they become more independent, they still rely on their city's airports and harbors to move goods to and from other parts of the world -- and the city relies on the suburbs to provide the demand for them. In short, everything that makes a modern city a city is dependent on the suburbs that surround it. Without them, the city would still be a crowded, noisy, polluted mess where only the richest could live comfortably and the rest would be left to their own devices.

I believe it's two things. The first and most obvious is culture, which the cities still create and the suburbs absorb. Entertainment of all kinds is created in the city, where the higher population density provides a wider audience for new types of music, visual arts and performances. New restaurants and stores can be more successful in a city, even though they are also more expensive to establish, for the very same reason. Eventually the successful stores and restaurants either attract customers from the suburbs, or are able to reproduce themselves out in the suburbs, or both -- but the city is where it all originates.

The second reason is related to lifestyle. Suburban life is generally defined by comfort -- space, health, and a lower cost of living -- while urban life is increasingly driven by energy. In a city, youth culture is constantly exposed to new music, entertainment, food, types of jobs, and each other. The decreased space and increased crowding of any city make it difficult to raise a family there, but it's ideal for young individuals and couples who like to see new things, meet new people, and try new experiences on a constant basis. Without a family, they have only themselves on whom to spend their time and money in pursuit of these things. The exact reverse is true of the suburbs. In other words, the more family-oriented you are, the more appealing the suburbs become.

This, however, is not the "downfall of civilization" -- just the opposite, in fact. Cities may be the fount of modern culture and lifestyle, but civilization itself is defined by man's ability to perpetuate itself. As the global population continues to rise, Western civilization becomes less driven to reproduce -- and the advantages of suburban family life are lost on more and more people. But without them, the relatively few families that live inside the cities wouldn't stand a chance of keeping their culture, their lifestyle, alive for another generation.

The cities provide the ideas. But the suburbs provide the people, and it's easier for those people to live without new ideas than vice versa.

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