Men’s Health on the isolation of suburbia

One can find commentary about suburbs almost anywhere, including at a Men’s Health blog. Here are their thoughts about the isolation of suburbia:

Researchers note that urbanites find liveliness, other people, and diversity more satisfying than those in the suburbs do. Suburbanites seem to find more satisfaction in economic status…

In the process, we replaced urban “stoop culture” with isolation. “Immigrants and other urbanites used to have casual interactions on a daily basis,” she says. “But once people started moving to the suburbs, they lost that sense of spontaneous social interaction.”

Sure, suburbanites technically could have walked the distance to their neighbor’s house. But the focus was more on individual households—partly due to the decline of the extended family. “Moving to the suburbs also meant moving away from your extended family into single family households,” Park explains.

This made our individual—fenced in—households the focus of our lives. Not just that—our new neighbors had different backgrounds and we had less in common with them, meaning forming new relationships took even more effort. (Fortunately, we finally had the TV to turn to instead!)…

The problem isn’t really suburbia itself; it’s isolation, which can affect anyone. (Fess up, city dwellers. Do you really even know who lives next door?)

On one hand, this post trades in some common images of suburbia: isolated homeowners who really live in “Disturbia, USA” (in the headline) and a thesis that asks “what’s wrong with the modern suburb?.” On the other hand, this issue of isolation is a commonly-cited problem in American life today. Interestingly, the last part of the post I cited above suggests the problem of isolation is found in both cities and suburbs. So is the problem really suburbia or is suburbia simply a symptom of larger issues of individualism and status-seeking within American culture?

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