By Kenneth Justice
~ “Staying here the rest of my life? No way dude. Hopefully I can get a job in Florida or California; but there’s no way I want to live in the Midwest the rest of my life” she said
Have you ever observed a trend? In the Western World we place a lot of emphasis on what is popular, in fact, businesses pay great sums of money to analysts who promise them the pulse-of-the-nation; ‘I can tell you what people will buy and what motives them’ the analyst says.
Step outside your door and you will see various trends,
—-) The houses in your neighborhood likely look similar; they were built in a particular trend of the era they were built in
—-) The type of clothes you wear likely resemble the clothes of other people in your age demographic or geographic area
—-) The type of music we listen to tends to represent the era in which you grew up; the music of your young adult years tends to stick with you throughout your life
I’m currently on a tour of 100 coffee houses throughout the Western World and having completed stops in Atlanta, Chicago, and Pittsburgh I’m noticing a very distinct trend; a lot of people in the United States are looking to move…..eventually.
—-) I met with a late 50ish man in Pittsburgh who told me he hoped to retire to Arizona in a few years
—-) I met with numerous college students in Atlanta who told me they hoped to live out of state after graduation
—-) I met with a 30-something engineer in Pittsburgh who hoped to eventually move to New York
—-) I met with an early 40ish businessman in Chicago whose long term goal is to live in California
If I didn’t know better I’d say that the whole bloody United States is in a state of transition; everyone seems to want to move somewhere else. Obviously that would be a gross exaggeration because I’m sure there are plenty of people who are happy living where they are at……..and perhaps that is an important thing to ponder.
For more than a year I’ve been writing articles about Western Culture and the observation that we have become more and more disconnected as a people group. People tend to spend more times looking at the screens on their phones and computers than they do looking at the faces of friends and loved ones…..and perhaps this issue of ‘transition’ is the problem; if so many people are planning on moving to another city or state then what’s the point of truly connecting with those around you?
—) What’s the point of becoming good friends with your neighbors if you’re only planning on leaving them eventually?
—-) What’s the point of developing connections and relationships at a local coffee house or hang out if you’re only planning on spending your retirement years elsewhere?
—-) What’s the point of putting effort into relationships and friendships that you’re only going to sever when you move out of state in a few years?
Could this possibly explain the massive disconnect so many people feel and experience throughout Western Culture? Could it be that too many of us have bought into the ‘grass is greener’ mentality and we are much too focused on tomorrow rather than on the here-and-now?
My long term plan has always involved a winter residence. Born and raised in the Mid-West, the winters up here can be brutal at times and so I’ve always had my eye on a purchasing a second home in a warmer climate like South Carolina, Costa Rica, Panama, or the Florida Keyes (four places I really like). But I’ve never thought I’d leave the Mid-West permanently. My roots are here. I can walk into a coffee shop in any one of six communities here and I will likely know nearly everyone sitting in the place.
Why would I want to uproot my entire existence from the people I’ve known for years?
Of course, sometimes circumstances dictate the decisions we make. When the housing bubble burst in 2008 many of my friends were forced to leave the Mid-West in search of better job prospects. One of my closest friends (I’ve known him for 18 years) had to move out of state in order to get a better job to support his family.
Sometimes, in order to pursue a particular vocation or hobby we have no choice but to move elsewhere. So I totally understand that there are exceptions to most everything in life. But perhaps, this general ‘’I’m planning on relocating eventually” attitude is having a negative effect on our culture.
Did people back in the 1800’s think to themselves, “I’m only going to live in Iowa till I turn 65, then I think I’ll move down South”? Obviously that wasn’t a popular way to think. Before the era of fast automobiles and jets that whisk you from one place to another at 600 miles per hour; most people planned on living in the same place their entire life. They hoped to live long enough to see their grandchildren and perhaps even their great-grandchildren.
But the world is a different place now. Many people are in a state of transition. We are on the go more often than not and we simply don’t have time to spend a few minutes chatting with the person sitting next to us at coffee.
Of course, if you do have a few minutes to spare I will be in Philadelphia this weekend and I’d love to have coffee with you!
Categories: Culture & Society