(Not) Understanding the Suburban Mentality


Mulder: “I mean, is it so damn important for everybody to have the same color mailbox?”–The X-Files, “Arcadia”

Okay, I admit, the mentality of suburbanites and gated-community dwellers just plain mystifies me. I used to be a little more philosophical about it–live and let live–as long as I don’t have to live there. Or even visit people I knew who lived there. Until I really became aware of the environmental impact of the suburbs (back in my late teens/early 20s–so a while ago *wry laugh*).

Little Boxes: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VUoXtddNPAM

Crabgrass Frontier: The Suburbanization of the United States

Let’s temporarily forget about (not that you should) the acres upon acres of wilderness (in Florida, where I’m from originally, it’s the already severely diminished wetlands and swamps) that fall prey to the developers’ chainsaws. Let’s look at the communities themselves. Instead of renovating an older home or apartment building, there’s this trend where everything has to be brand-sparkling-new. This one young person I knew actually said those specific words when she was complaining about her old-building rental. So, now, because people don’t want to live in a place that’s been used and lived in by someone else, they help contribute to the destruction of the environment, because of all the new construction materials that have to be manufactured to build these perfect new homes. And, typically, they are pretty cheaply built on top of that. Or, if there’s an old home on the site, it has to be demolished and carted away to a landfill, generating more environmental issues.

So, having ignored all of the above, I don’t understand why you would even want a cookie-cutter home that looks like all the others. Boring. Plus, how on earth do people even find their trendy brand-new home, after one too many mixologist-concocted drinks, if they all look alike? (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gLxC1bJmF_Uhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gLxC1bJmF_U)

Then, the lawn mania. It astounds me how obsessive people still are about having perfect green lawns. All day long, every day, you’ve got people or lawn crews out with lawnmovers, leafblowers, weedwhackers–the noise is constant and it’s all…day…long. One couple even had a ShopVac that they used to vacuum leaves off their lawn–seriously. People, having those green lawns, especially in Florida, takes a toxic combination of chemical fertilizer, herbicides, and pesticides. And guess where all that stuff is going, especially in coastal communities? Yep, right into the waterways. (http://www.rodalesorganiclife.com/garden/dark-side-lawns) And, it seems to me that it’s completely unregulated. Even organizations and people who are supposed to be advocates for environmental protection and protectors of our natural spaces not only use things like Round-up, but are strong supporters of its use. (I know, I contacted some local representatives of these organizations directly). You know what that causes? http://www.cnn.com/2016/07/01/us/florida-algae-pollution/http://www.cnn.com/2016/07/01/us/florida-algae-pollution/ (This recent news item is the main inspiration for this article, by the way.) I can also speak from personal experience. Red tide used to only happen maybe once a year when I was growing up. When I was living there more recently, red tide was happening practically year-round. When I was growing up, there were less turfed green lawns–now everyone seemed to have one. And, of course, there’s the dead zone in the Gulf. http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2015/080415-gulf-of-mexico-dead-zone-above-average.html. So, what can be done about it? Even for those of us trying to fight it, it’s difficult when the local city and state politicians are corrupt and firmly on the side of developers and tourism. See examples here: http://www.heraldtribune.com/article/20150630/ARTICLE/150639959  and  http://www.srqmagazine.com/srq-daily/2016-03-26/3713_Institutional-Corruption and http://www.heraldtribune.com/article/20150319/ARCHIVES/503191026

This paper espouses a stronger viewpoint about the state of things in Sarasota: http://sarasotaphoenix.net/

Sadly, even when people strive to implement xeriscaping, or try to use mulch beds in combination with native plants, they then resort to using Round-up to keep the weeds out. Which makes no kind of sense whatsoever. I mean, why bother with the environmentally friendly landscaping if you’re just going to dump Agent Orange Round-up all over it?

I hated to leave Florida without being able to affect any kind of change whatsoever. It felt like I was abandoning it to the mercy of the people who just wanted a beachfront paradise/condo–abandoning the swamps and the natural Florida I loved as a kid. But I couldn’t afford to live there among all the rich snowbirds, and an opportunity opened up to get out of that conservative hellhole.

So, I moved to New Mexico. Santa Fe. Where I’m at, at least had a little bit of a rural feel–a touch of the wild. There’s a ditch right by my driveway, and it was lined with beautiful flowers. Tall yellow flowers that followed the sun, and little orange and purple flowers. Essentially, lots of green growy things that helped take the edge off moving to the desert from green, lush Florida. And it was so quiet–no sirens, no SWAT teams running down the street, no gunshots,  and, best of all, no lawn equipment.

Then I was woken up (7 am on a Saturday morning, no less) to the sound a weed-whacker right outside my window. Yep, all the lovely wildflowers–gone. All the lilies around my rain barrel–gone. The whole lovely meadow, full of waving, shimmery grass in the compound–gone. And now the compound is coming after me because the area lining my gate looks “messy”, so, by the laws of the unit, I have to get rid of all the growing things along the fence.Or some of them. I still don’t understand what they are talking about. I don’t even know what I’m supposed to weed out. It’s no different than when I moved in. To me, it’s just beautiful, wild nature.

I don’t really feel like I belong in this world–it makes no sense to me.  I’ve never felt more like a social misfit then I have this week. And I’ve always kinda been the odd one out.

I have some things to figure out about where to take my life from here…to continue the fight and how best to make a difference for this planet and all its wonderful plants, animals, and other natural elements.





Author: The Chaos Realm

Copy Editor/Proofreader, Historian, Freelance Writer, Virtual Assistant.

22 thoughts on “(Not) Understanding the Suburban Mentality”

  1. Yes, suburbia just frosts me. I planted our front yard in our prior home with a porfusion of blooming flowers. People used to stop to take photos and leave me notes. The HOA wrote me up for not having “approved ground cover.” They were like The Fascists of Conformity. Now I live on 8 acres surrounded by a 1200 acre nature reserve. These neighbors ROCK!!!!

  2. My education of Florida has been through Bloodline. I’d be looking to live in a purpose-built refrigerator if I hailed from there. But I’m from a country obsessed with home ownership with the architectural imagination of a match-box. The rest of your post just confirmed my right to the cry at the prospect of moving into a new one soon (true story).

  3. I couldn’t agree more with this original post. You see, I’ve lived here in my family home forever and slowly watched my town all around me mutate into this yuppie hellhole it is today.
    I’m basically living in a very model (single bathroom–wow, how Can you?!) 60 year old home.
    My neighbors tore down the old houses around me and live in McMansions and McCastles that are 6 years or less old. They are complete Narcissist A$$holes who broadcast inequality, think they’re better than everyone else, and are incapable of simple tasks like cutting car-length strips of lawn themselves (they wouldn’t be caught Dead performing “peasant work”).
    Every Week, Each neighbor has their lawn service trailer of idiots come over (3-6 underpaid jerks who put on Shows) to spend Hours running noisy gasoline-powered monstrosities (ride-around things–these are strips of lawn, a few car-lengths long not acres!) and backpack carried blowers (imagine what happens when they leave and a big wind comes–leaves blow right back, wow!). I’ve literally watched these guys blow a fist-sized lump of leaves around in a circle for like an hour–like something out of the Three Stooges! And each and every neighbor pays for this service to prove their worth as English Lords or whatever! They cut the crap out of these every week and fertilize it to hell with poisons guaranteed to kill pets and all sorts of wildlife, all for the sake of having golf course quality green that symbolizes how great they are!
    So 6x each week have to deal with this nonsense–on Sundays I instead have to deal with their kids Screaming for little reason from their inground pool parties!
    Meanwhile these green keepers throw their water bottles and Starbucks cups on my property before departing (how minimal wagers spend their money!)–since I have all-natural, maintenance-free ground coverings, which my neighbors naturally assume means I’m a lazy, poor, lowlife “working class vermin” Inferior to them (despite being financially independent and an environmentalist!).
    These neighbors leave their lights on all night (Spotlights mounted outdoors–over a dozen of them each per mansion) which keep me up since I prefer Darkness at night! And the finishing touch is lining their yards with luxury vehicles (say 6 per mansion, despite only having families of 4, including kids too young to drive). One neighbor have 6 garages–and they’re Empty since they refuse to park their vehicles in there, as you can’t showoff luxury vehicles if you keep them parked inside garages! Even if it’s pouring out or snowing they park on or near the road and Walk the 30 to 60 feet because they Need to flaunt these cars.
    If One neighbor does it–they All do it!

    Bottom line: This is what you’re judged by now in America. What you live in, what you drive (as in Quantity as well as models!), how many servants you can order around (including maids), and how outright pretentious you are. If you’re a minimalist like me who abhors Waste in all forms, then you’re a bum to them not to be trusted or associated with.

    Most of the heads of households are white middle aged men, balding or bald, with trophy wives half their own age. I’m also willing to bet most are Italian-American.

    America is now officially a narcissist nation. And yes these are the studs who put Trump in the White House, and I’m sure they tell their kids that Trump should be their role model!

    1. Heartbreaking, isn’t it? And the noise from the leaf blowers and other lawn stuff is a constant drone. Just insane, this yard mania. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts/commenting.

  4. Omg yes!! Must they have pristine Lego pads for lawns?? Argh lol. Although I’d lived in the suburbs most of my life, I never held that mentality, and I don’t get it, either! 💚💙

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