March 29, 2015

Im a Native New Yorker, How can I stop Hating Those Dicks, the Yuppies


                                                                             
 NYC Winter of 2015

I personally don’t think I hate Yuppies. For someone who used to sell Diamonds you appreciate people that can help you pay your rent and make your brand new car payments. Then the expenses of the job, nice suits, ties, gold cufflinks and nice hands and nails to show precious small stuff. You are also being hammered at every managers convention wether in Hawaii or Pennsylvania that if you sell enough of that stuff you will be better off than your customers. Which is true but only if you believe in the Lotto and that you will become a multi millionaire by just playing (religiously). 

You tend to interact with rich people and on special occasions eat were the famous eat. So you learn to have an appreciation for people better than you financially until you no longer selling precious gems and most of your income now is going to pay rent in NYC.

This is why this article on the New Yorker caught my attention and I had to ask my self if I still like them or have I developed that deep rooted desired to have the Walking Dead come by and eat them all, even if they eat you as well.


Here is the Q&A:
Dear Native New Yorker,

I, too, am a native Park Sloper, and I desperately need your help. By NYC standards, I am a young parent. Few of my friends have kids, and the ones that do moved elsewhere because they can't afford to live in Brooklyn. (The only reason that my family and I still live in Park Slope is because we rent a studio apartment from a family for far below market value.) I'm a little lonely, and would like to make more parent-friends, but am finding it difficult. The other parents that I usually interact with at school events/birthday parties/playdates are typically much older than me, and almost none are native New Yorkers.

My problem is that even though we have a lot in common (kids in the same school, same parenting problems, etc.), for the most part, I just dislike them off the bat. I feel this low level of hatred towards them when they start talking about how happy they are that they locked in a five-year lease on their $5,000/month apartment on 3rd Street, or how they moved from 2nd Street to 10th Street and the new commute is such a killer that they're thinking of leaving the Coop. When they suggest getting together at Greenwood Park so we can drink some beers (while they stop paying attention and let their kids runs amok) I want to roll my eyes.

Logically I know that it's not John or Sam or Susie's fault that the rents are too damn high, and the neighborhood is changing (not necessarily for the better), but I can't help feeling like it kind of is their fault, and to dislike them for it before giving them a chance.


How do I stop feeling this way? 

Please help,
Not Your Stereotypical Park Slope Parent
A native New Yorker responds:
Dear NYSPSP,
I feel your pain! It sucks being poor in a rich neighborhood, especially when you were fucking born there and all the new people grew up in Ardsley and work on Wall Street and are probably not even current on their Food Coop shifts and take up all the good spaces with their enormous SUVs.  
In the past I'd tell you to meditate on how you are, of course, still far richer than most people in the world, and you should feel grateful for not having to live in Syria, but I've been reading up on "relative poverty", and I've come to believe that being surrounded by people with a lot more money than you comes with real psychological costs, especially for children. 
I still remember how my parents wouldn't buy us those Benneton striped green shirts in 1985 because they didn't have the money, and we were social outcasts because of it. This is another way of saying that inequality matters, even in a prosperous place like Park Slope. 
You could move, but it sounds like you've got a pretty good deal on that studio, and given the current size of New York's real estate bubble, you'll probably just end up paying more for an apartment near a school you like less. 
Don't hate, though. Appreciate that most of these other parents are also oppressed by late-stage capitalism, breaking their ass to afford those $5K apartments, and also feel stressed out. The nature of material wealth is that the more you have, the more you want, so even the ones who are really, really rich, still want a bigger apartment at a lower price. That's why talking about real estate makes everyone miserable except for parasite real estate brokers and blood-sucking lawyers, who profit from everyone else's pain. 
So the key is just to avoid idiots who bring up real estate or money in conversations with people they barely know. That's just being an inconsiderate dick. Some topics—money, reproduction, religion—are for close friends only. With everybody else, you talk about neutral stuff like how hard parenting is, which new restaurants suck, and why Girls is such an inaccurate portrayal of Brooklyn. 
If there aren't enough non-dicks in your Food Coop shift or amongst the parents in your kid's class, gravitate towards places where down-to-earth types congregate. Unitarian or Quaker church services, for instance, or story time at the Public Library. But my experience back in Park Slope these last six months is that there are plenty of normal, non-rich people around if you look.
[This approach may not alleviate all of your discomfort. To cure deep seated spiritual malaise you must turn to philosophy or religion. May I drop some deep truth on you for a moment that you may find consoling?
There's no such thing as free will. Every person is caught in an unbroken chain of causality going back to the very beginning of time. Your entire life has been shaped and will be shaped by things that are beyond your conscious control—big things, like who your parents are, where you were born, your health, the state of the real estate market. But little things too; if you meditate on it for a while, you will find that even such straightforward decisions that you appear to make, say, whether to eat cereal or toast for breakfast, you don't really "make" at all.
(For instance: this morning I ate breakfast because I was hungry. I was hungry because after a certain period without food, human bodies require food; this is not within my conscious control. I chose toast because I felt like it. I don't know why I felt like toast rather than cereal, I just did. At some point, you always hit a wall like that: the decision either emerged from the subconscious, from material events in the past, from the actions of others, etc. The actual feeling of choosing is an illusion that our brains tack on after the fact.)*
Adopting this view makes you a lot more sympathetic to other people, since you realize that all the hurtful things other people do to you are really the result of vast forces beyond their control. Likewise, all that shit you blame yourself for and feel guilty about, you come to see as a product of an infinite number of causes beyond yourself, and that lets you off the metaphysical hook. 
I'm not suggesting that you become a nihilist; the proper approach is to live your day-to-day life as if you have free will, but keep the good humor that comes from realizing that it's all an illusion. This is particularly important when writing big rent checks or when you encounter bankers at parties who want to talk about politics.]
But let's say you don't go in for deep thoughts or Brooklyn Buddhist bullshit. Even if you think yuppie dicks are 100% personally responsible for their dickishness, I think you're still better off directing your hostility in a more productive direction. Maybe toward political action oriented toward creating more affordable housing in Brooklyn, or at gathering a like-minded community of normal people together for a book group, or really anything besides resenting rich people. That kind of negativity isn't good for kids to be around.

Finally, remember, when it looks really dark‚ there are still tons of us old-time natives hanging around in the nooks and crannies of each of these neighborhoods, and we're all going through some version of the same thing. Don't give up and don't move to the suburbs!
*An excellent secular argument in this direction is Free Will, by Sam Harris, as well as Daniel Dennett's response.

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