When hating McMansions becomes part of a local identity

A BuzzFeed quiz about Bergen County, New Jersey suggests hating McMansions is a mark of local identity:

A new quiz posted on BuzzFeed tests takers’ Bergen County-ness, using malls, spray tanning, and wealth as some of the metrics. The quiz asks BuzzFeed readers to identify which things they’ve done before to see just how Bergen County they are.

Some of the indicators include whether or not you live within 10 minutes of more than two malls, know someone who got her nails done regularly in high school, hate McMansions, and know people who wear Juicy track suits and Tiffany charm bracelets.

Sure, it is an online quiz but this seems to be a popular means these days for establishing, or at least broadcasting, identity. The choice of McMansions as a critical marker is interesting because presumably it means there must be a decent number of them in Bergen County. After all, this is New Jersey, a place that has a lot of suburbs between Philadelphia and New York City. Are the McMansion residents not really Bergen Countiers? Is it fair to presume they are all outsiders chasing cheaper and bigger homes? This particular question sounds more like a means to differentiate between long-term residents of the county versus newer residents who moved into newer subdivisions. This sort of long-time resident versus newcomer has a long history in suburban areas, particularly in places that settlements long before post-World War II suburbanization.

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