I spend a lot of time on Internet forums, and one of the things I always notice is how people complain about where they’re at. “New York is not the city it used to be”. “Hampton Roads is a boring place”. It never amazes me how much people complain and go on and go on when they are the ones that have either made the decision to stay or made the decision to move, concerning New York and Hampton Roads, respectively.
In the past, people moved into cities for work, and their decisions were not made out of a desire to be entertained. People knew that they could realize their dreams in a city, and they were looking to see what they could bring to the city, not what they could take from it. There have been three different migrations over the course of America. The first was the move out West, where America continued the cause of taking over territory from the Indians, with the added twist of taking over territory from Mexico. The second was the move into the North, where Southerners looking for work in the industrious North relocated to the North and the Midwest, to work in factories in colder environments. The third was a reverse migration of talent back to the South, but this time the work was not about labor, but intellectual capital, into Washington DC, Virginia and Maryland for federal jobs, and deep into the South to work in other fields.
African Americans and immigrants were involved in the first two migrations, and African Americans and Latinos were involved in the last migration. The difference in the first two from the last is that this current migration has more to do with hostile working conditions in as much that African Americans and Latinos have been priced out of the North, and while they can afford the Midwest, most of the jobs require a different type of talent than what their forefathers brought to the table back in the twenties through the fifties. The overwhelming majority of people that moved to the North and the Midwest during the earlier part of the twentieth century were not able to do anything to improve their lot in life. They spent their money as quickly as they were able to earn it, and while most became part of the middle class they were still living check to check. Many were able to put their children through college, but that number pales in comparison to those that were caught up in the game of life.
America’s labor movement ended in the late sixties. By the early seventies Americans saw their jobs being shipped overseas and their pay cut. A job that paid $25 an hour in the seventies, when $25 an hour was a lot of money, may pay $12 an hour today, when $12 buys about one fifth of what it did then. So it amuses me when I hear people talking about “this place is boring” or “hipsters are taking over this city”. There have always been rich people moving into cities and enjoying the good life and burning through their money while the rest of us, the 99%, are busy in the heavy lifting that is required to keep the machinery of the city moving. There are always entitled people, living off of benefits and struggling to get by, lounging while the rest of us are struggling to support them through our taxes; ironically, they pay taxes as well but appear to get more of an investment off their return than we do. Hipsters are nothing new, we just have a name for it now but what the hipsters are doing is no different than what the flappers were doing back in the twenties, almost a century ago.
New York, and many other large cities, have always attracted large groups of individuals that manage to experience the idiosyncrasies of urban life without putting in the back breaking, or mentally exhausting, work of surviving in the city. Hipsters are just more obvious and more obnoxious about it. If a city is boring and you can afford to do something about it move into one of the more interesting parts of the city or just leave that city altogether. I often wonder if the all of the creative people either stayed in New York, or went to other creative cities like Detroit, that they could actually afford, because all of the New Yorkers I know that come to Hampton Roads like to complain about how boring it is. Chances are those people are boring and they’re not the creative type, because creative people bring an energy that changes the atmosphere around them; they don’t lead boring lives and they can find fun and satisfaction wherever they call home.
What is interesting, and what is cool, was born out of pain and suffering. People had to be innovative to fill in the gaps of what they did not have, and had to find ways to entertain themselves that were unconventional. Now we’re spoiled, and we are looking for something fake that is prefabricated to humor us. Stop looking for something to walk into and do the hard work yourself. Find answers, instead of asking questions, solve problems, instead of creating problems. We have to learn how to become part of the solution instead of always being part of the problem. America can be a fun and interesting place to live in again, but we have look outside of what is always presented to us, and think outside of the box.