5 Reasons I Hate The Suburbs

Oh Lordy, Lordy, Lordy, Lordy: How can people live in these soulless, plastic, empty Legolands? Every time I drive through the suburbs, it just makes me want to punch a cute kitten in the face.

I guess I’m just a city kid at heart, so I simply cannot fathom how American tract suburbs are appealing to anyone. But apparently 150 million do (and I guess they like it?). Don’t these people want noise, dirt, grit, tall buildings and urban street crime, liquor stores and dimly lit dive bars all within inebriated walking distance?? I tell you, their lives are doomed to a vacuous, empty, unlived existence of emotional and intellectual poverty.

Don’t get me wrong- I like the country too. Mountains, rivers, small towns with history and charm. Natural beauty refreshes me, and I’m always down for a camping trip outta the city. I’m not sure that I could live in a small, rural town my whole life (I think I’d get restless honestly), but it wouldn’t be the worst place in the world. I heard the moonshine ain’t bad either.

I don’t actually know what it is about the ‘Burbs that bother me so much. Perhaps my hatred is plain irrational, but we all have a right to our feelings sometimes and nobody’s gonna dissuade me from my rant at this juncture. Here are some salient points:

1. You Have To Drive Everywhere: I honestly hate driving. The idiocy and incompetence of most drivers on the road is demonstrated to me almost every time I get behind the wheel. I do own a car, but try to use it only for trips out of town or grocery shopping. Otherwise, I’m most content walking and taking public transportation to get around.

The absurdity that every human being on earth somehow needs a 1 ton steel machine to transport their 150lb body everytime they need to simply pick up a pint of milk is galling. Yet, the entire physical landscape of the suburbs is constructed entirely for the automobile. You are NOTHING without a car, and those who cannot drive (the young, the elderly, the poor) are geographically isolated and helpless.

Suburban development is so spread out, that communities feel like they don’t exist at all. They’re just bland swathes of houses, with no corner store, local cafe or plaza where one might meet their neighbors. This empty morass of residences is then connected by a freeway or 6 lane thoroughfare that connects to the strip mall- all of this environment only accessible to cars. Those caught walking on the streets are often viewed as freaks or suspicious deviants only worthy of law enforcement scrutiny.

I just cannot understand how people will drive an hour to an hour and a half to and from work in teeth grinding traffic, just so they can get back to their identical, stucco McMansion. “So my kid can have a yard” they’ll probably answer.

2. All The Houses Look The Same: It goes without saying that all houses look the same in the burbs. Why? Do people prefer this? I guess most people all dress the same too, even when they have the chance to get creative with their appearance. So, perhaps their house is a reflection of this same ethos or their same personality).

Can’t builders have fun with making some sort of statement of artistry on the domiciles they erect? I mean, look at these houses from the late 19th Century in San Francisco:

Light, Beauty, Architectural Detail, Individuality in every home. Nowadays, we just have these:

An endless tide of cheap beige stucco as far as the eye can see. No doubt the people living in these ticky tack boxes have little to say or any original ideas of their own. Might as well just spend their days stuffing their faces with microwaved Hot Pockets and farting on the sofa as the Kardashians stream in on Netflix. The next generation will probably do the same.

3. All The Businesses Are The Same: Same as the houses, all businesses in the suburbs are, by and large chain, stores and chain restaurants. Most of the eateries serve sugary, fattening, non-nutritious food, that (if you’re lucky) is at least some sort of white, homogenized facsimile of spicy ethnic cuisine.

Combined with the driving only environment as mentioned above, fast food and their sit down superiors only reinforce the obesity and diabetes epidemic that’s turning our children into greasy-faced Land Whales. Again, people must find this stuff comforting when they travel to visit other people in another faceless suburban hellhole in some other state. “I’m in a different city, but Thank God for that green Starbucks sign on the horizon! Maybe the world outside of my own cookie-cutter bubble isn’t so threatening after all…”

Drop yourself down in any large modern area of any American city, and you’d be at a loss to actually know where you are; the physical appearance is literally indistinguishable from anywhere else. But if you landed in say, Manhattan- you would instantly know you’re in Manhattan.

4. No Fun: What’s there to do for fun in the Suburbs anyway? Is there anywhere to go? And no: driving to the shopping mall to buy cheap crap made in China at a chain store is not my idea of fun. It seems most people in these areas simply drive home, bolt the door and turn on the TV- not to leave again until work starts again on Monday morning.

Is there anywhere nice to walk with a woodsy park? A concert in the nearby pedestrianized downtown? A street fair? Some cool graffiti to check out? What about Saturday night? There’s nowhere to bloody go! Maybe one bar or music club in the entire 30 square mile area? But even if you go there, then you can’t even get loaded! Why? Because then you would have to drive home in your 1 ton metal death machine, drunkenly mowing down telephone polls and grannies in their pajamas along the way!

If I can’t walk to and back from my nearest pub, what’s the fucking point of life? I might as well just stay home and drink and smoke funny cigarettes in my living room…

5. Paranoia: 

(Photo Credit: myradphotos via Flickr)

People who live in suburbs also seem really afraid. Afraid of shadows creeping up behind them… Maybe its the media that streams into living rooms replete with stories of urban crime, serial killers and terrorists, but guess what? Just being alive is dangerous. Last time I checked: you’re going to die anyway.

My friends that live in suburban areas all have serious gun collections as well. I cannot understand why, but they seriously live in extreme fear of someone “breaking into their home at night”. Myself and my friends that live in one of the most crime ridden urban areas in America don’t own any guns at all. It doesn’t even cross our minds to.

Indeed, there seems to be a bizarre inverse relationship between peaceful suburban living and weapons ownership. When I asked my suburban-dwelling buddy why he owned an assault rifle, he replied that “his neighbor owned one and had a hundred thousand rounds of ammunition in his garage”, so on that basis he needed to have one too.

100,000 rounds of ammunition: What. The. Fuck. Sounds like someone’s been watching too much Walking Dead to me… Zombie Apocalypse anyone?

Do you really buy a military-grade, semiautomatic machine gun just because your neighbor might use the same on you? That’s not civilization: that’s Chaos. You live in the suburbs- there’s no crime there! Nothing!! Its boring as fuck!!! Maybe one day when Ze Germans invade that gun might come in handy, but until then I’m not hiding under my bed at night, cleaning my rifle in the expectation that my wife might walk in with warm milk and cookies in her nightgown…

In short, the suburbs are built for one thing, and one thing only: to buy your house, have your kids and die there. Or the suburban life is simply sold to us through Hollywood movies and TV as the IDEAL EXISTENCE everybody should aspire to. There is nothing else: all human needs one could possibly think of are taken care of there. Or maybe, just maybe, there’s more to life than this…

What about you: does a drive into the Burbs feel like the equivalent of Chinese Water Torture? If you’re growing up there, do you long to break out of your plastic prison and move to the city where eccentric weirdos do interesting things?

7 thoughts on “5 Reasons I Hate The Suburbs

  1. that’s a whole lotta hate for something you don’t seem to know anything about

  2. i live in nyc but i sometimes imagin a sweet county town or village would be swell to dwell in. agatha christy might live there and we could meet up on the green or in the pub later. maybe we’d start a book club together. but the suburbs are frightful and do leave one lonely. a community for gathering together with– some hub to recognize yourself in and a real place of interconnections. a hive has a musical hum.

    • Post Author Greg Goldblatt

      Agreed. Suburbs – through their complete and utter deference to the automobile- only lead to atomized communities and isolated humans. No nexus, park or community hub where one might bump into a neighbor on the street. I can either live in cities or a small town, but not some bland artificial paradise between the two.

  3. Elders are moving back into cities for the connection to culture, events and street life. Burbs are for cheaper housing, backyards, and decent schools where there are no people of different ethnic backgrounds or economic backgrounds. Boring!

    • Post Author Greg Goldblatt

      Young Millennials are also moving back into the cities for the exact same reasons. They grew up in boring culturally homogenous suburbs and want out. Cities offer more to do, both intellectually and culturally and are starting to be seen as viable places to live again. Suburbs may have cheaper housing, but who wants to drive 1 hour on the freeway every day just to get to work. I guess many people do…

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