The way we are
We ended up in a basement bar in Gastown on a gorgeous evening, paying $24 for what was essentially a plate of fancy salami, but the beers on draught were excellent and the ambiance was good and the sun was sinking outside, so it’s not like we wanted to be out in that cold air anymore anyhow, and then the band started and people started dancing like it was 1921 and there was nowhere else I could have possibly wanted to be at that moment.
The company helped, too. I was with my friend, Stephanie, and her friends, Derek and Odette, and before the music got too loud to talk, we were discussing the way of the world right now, particularly people and their social habits these days, and I can’t remember how our conversation started exactly but it was one I had begun having way back in Georgia, when I was talking to a friend— the same friend who sold me his mom’s FourRunner that you now know as Marco. I had actually flown East to get Marco and I was driving this friend back to Atlanta, because he had brought Marco to me in Athens, where he actually lived for a long time before moving to Atlanta. Athens, he said, was a scene, not a community, so people were more concerned with being in that scene than they were with you and your well-being. Of course people are going to dispute this and bring up exceptions, because there are always exceptions, but this was his personal diagnosis of the college town where he started a big, successful business and spent many years running it and also having a social life on the side and after all that, he said, there were not that many people on whom he would call, if shit were ever to hit the fan. For the record, my sister and brother-in-law are on that short list of dependable souls but they are now living in Austin, Tex.
So, maybe that was not just an Athens thing, Stephanie said a few nights before we were sitting with her friends in that Gastown bar. Maybe it was becoming an epidemic, because she had certainly noticed a degree of flakiness on the part of peers around her in Vancouver, and maybe it was related to all this cyber socializing and maybe it was even going to start affecting real-life relationships, so that in dating, for example, people would start spreading themselves thin, as they held out for that better person, perhaps casually seeing someone for years and years until they finally ended it, because they said that it was an emotionally-shallow affair that just never progressed.
All theories based on anecdotes and perception, right? But we got onto the topic again with Derek and Odette, because I wanted to know what they thought about it all.
“I think we’re definitely reaching an age where people are too busy to connect on a real level,” Odette said. “They have (finite) time to see each other and then life gets in the way.”
She and Derek had just come from visiting a couple that moved there from Montreal a year and a half ago, for example, and altogether, the friends had seen each other twice, and now they were moving back East.
“We love them. We thought they were the greatest people. But did we meet up with them?” she said. “No.”
Odette wondered if people were eventually going to feel that lack of community and there would be a backlash and they would move out to smaller places where community could build. Derek agreed.
“I think there’s going to be a huge exodus of urbanites who go out to the country or not the country, just rural areas,” he said, “so I think rural areas are going to change.”
“Hipster rural,” Stephanie said.
“Yeah,” Derek said. “It’s going to turn into like an urban-rural.”
And then, he said, the truly rural people who are not into that are going to have to move out even further to maintain their rural reality.
“I think the hippie communes of the 60’s are going to turn into the activity communes of what whatever decade we’re in,” Odette said, giving examples, like retreats for writers and artists. “And actually, I think a lot of that already exists.”
What do you think?