Forty-Something Years in Ninaland

Ten Ways The Suburbs are Killing us Softly with No Song



  1. Strip Malls: They used to be called Plazas. They are not pleasing to the eye or the checkbook, or more likely the debit card or credit card. Strip malls are in fact ugly little chain stores all chained together, all geared to make us spend money on stuff we don’t know we don’t need. I mean you can get a clown wig at Target, but what the hell are you gonna do with a clown wig? Why are they selling it and why are you buying it? Ask yourselves if the next strip mall trip is really necessary.



Another way strip malls are literally killing us: Is it right that you can buy an actual rifle at a Wal-Mart in a strip mall? I don’t know, call me crazy, but I could swear that insane killers would buy their weapons at a plaza around the corner, on their way to McDonald’s. Big Mac in one hand and big gun in another and they are ready to massacre schools and malls. Watch out people, strip malls are actually deadly war zones in the guise of casual Bed Bath and Beyonds.


  1. No Walking: Americans are getting fatter, lazier and less likely to walk outside than ever in history. I saw someone drive to their mailbox at the end of their driveway the other day. C’mon people, do you really thinking driving to every destination is doing you any good? Our species was meant to walk miles and miles. Never mind the treadmill that every suburbanite has. It’s not the same, it just isn’t. Even the gym doesn’t make up for the great outdoors.

The notion of a ‘subdivision’ negates any and all retail, grocery, pharmaceutical and restaurant venues from being anywhere that is a walkable distance from homes since they are considered an eyesore next to perfectly manicured lawns. Now you don’t even have to walk out of your car to get a prescription at CVS! They have drive-through windows for our convenience. For our convenience or so we will need more prescription drugs from them when our legs stop working?


  1. Isolation: We live in a locked house, we don’t answer the door or know our neighbors and we most likely screen our home phone, if we have one. We surf the Internet, play video games and watch T.V. for leisure activity. We are alone people, alone. What happened to sitting around the bonfire sharing stories? Cave people may have been barbaric, but at least they spent time with other people. We don’t congregate anymore. People hardly even go to church anymore. ‘Take me to church’ our pop songs sing because we don’t sing along with the choir anymore. We are at home listening to Pandora and Spotify.

Yeah, we go to parties, but our everyday life consists less and less of real people and more and more of interaction with machines and buildings. How many people consider their phone their best friend? What happened to human connection? What happened to sitting on the porch with grandma and peeling snap peas? What happened to dinner conversation with no T.V. and phone or Internet? What will we talk about you wonder? Let’s talk about how lonely we really are.

We go to therapists and psychiatrists and pay them to hear our woes. Where did friendship and camaraderie go? What about family? When is the last time you reached out to your siblings or your mom and dad? Are you relating to your kids or are they relating to their technological toys? Maybe they are as lonely as you are. Talk to them about it.


  1. Indoor Claustrophobia: Indoor air and indoor sedentary behavior has become the norm. Do you have any idea how dirty indoor air is? Either do I, but I’ve heard rumors. You can get all the air filters and pictures of landscapes and waterfalls that you want, but you will never rival the good old outdoors. We sit inside to do most everything meaningful that we do. We are not made to be inside all the livelong day. We crave adventure. We are animals really, who have decided to live unnaturally and it’s killing us.

The inside of my home in the suburbs…elephants are the only animals to be seen.


Let’s go outside. Let’s play like kids at recess. Every employer should have recess because playing outside is the greatest way to build collaboration and team spirit. Let’s take our laptops and tablets and sit under a tree. Buddha found enlightenment by sitting under a tree. It’s an ancient practice that can really do wonders for the soul.

Let’s look inside ourselves for peace, not inside our houses and strip malls. We go from one building to another, barely even experiencing sunlight. Is this some weird twisted form of hell or am I imagining things? Perhaps we need to shut off the air conditioner in the car and open the windows. Even better yet, let’s step out of the car and experience the actual world. What a concept.


  1. Techno Tantrum: When all you do is visit the Internet all day, community is replaced with showing off on social media. Looking at the man in the mirror is replaced by selfies. People even have devices now like the Amazon Echo that can turn on their lights at their command. Are you going to get off that couch and put away your tablet, phone, and laptop for anything other than a fire? No, not Amazon Fire! Get your head out of the web!



We choose to talk to strangers in chat rooms or online dating sites rather than having real conversations with the people sitting right in front of us or meeting significant others at the coffee shop or bookstore. When we do visit these places we take our laptops, tablets, and phones and never look up from them. Do you ever wonder if we are still human?


  1. Materialism: When you watch commercials on T.V. and see ads on the Internet all day, you want more stuff to fill the void of not having the meaningful connections mentioned above. How much stuff can you have? Hoarding technological toys, clothes, shoes and other frivolous crap is very common among the suburban clans.

Tupperware parties? C’mon people there has to be something better to do. Even jewelry parties are a joke. You are having a party so you can sell something and make money so you can buy more useless stuff. And in this all we in the suburbs are watching, and competing with the Jones’s (or the Patels and Wangs). Who has the bigger house, the better car, the more expensive watch?


  1. Self Involvement: When we are holed up in our own homes and we never see anybody starving or in need on our well-manicured streets, we forget that we have so much, I mean waaaay too much. Americans take up a ton of the world’s resources individually and collectively. We are collectors of useless stuff and we eat a lot. How about we slow down a moment and think about giving some of that food to someone who really needs it. Or giving some of that stuff away. We need to think about someone besides ourselves.


Suburbia is a haven for the middle and upper middle class and rich to live separately from the economically challenged. See no evil, then perhaps we will forget that there is this evil thing called poverty that is affecting the masses. Where is it, you ask? It’s definitely in not in our neighborhood. Let’s not forget people, living in the suburbs is a privilege. We don’t deal with gang violence and crack houses. Although the opioid epidemic is growing in the suburbs probably because of the empty nature of life mentioned above. All in all, we live in the lap of luxury and we are still not happy. They say that real happiness comes from giving another happiness. Do that. Try it.


  1. First World Problems: I mean if your Wi-Fi goes out and you are in the middle of an episode of Orange is the New Black on Netflix, is that a real problem? Our biggest rage and anger is geared towards rush hour traffic as opposed to more worldly things we could be upset about like say, global warming. Running out of toilet paper in the middle of a big dump is a HUGE issue to us when there are those with no toilets in many countries. A lot of people are actually starving to death, think about that the next time you complain that they gave you too many fries at Fridays and you take them home and they die a slow death in your fridge. People would die for your day old fry.

It’s true that everything is relative, just because we have a lot of wealth doesn’t mean we don’t have real problems. However, every now and then when you are brushing your teeth, be grateful for the clean water you just spit out into the sink. Clean water, food, toilets, and sanitary conditions are something we take for granted and we instead complain about our baseball team losing for the tenth time this season. Let’s face it people, we are the ones losing.


  1. Depression and Anxiety: Let’s be honest, the suburbs are depressing and stressful. Depression and anxiety are rising in this country day by day. We are on a treadmill and it ain’t Nordic Track. We are on the wrong track. Rather than address this we are taking Xanax, opioids, and antidepressants. We need to breathe and stop worrying so much about our day-to-day lives. Yeah, the mortgage needs to get paid somehow, but if we have managed to pay it thus far, I think we will be OK. We need to chill baby chill.

Think about this very moment, I mean right now. Is everything OK? Do you have relative comfort and are most of your needs met? Then what is there to worry about, what is there to be depressed about? Living this isolated robotic life may be causing an incessant itch in your being. But remember, you have a choice, you chose this life. You made your bed, now try not to drug yourself before you sleep in it.


  1. Robotic Personalities: Have we all become clones of one another, all wearing the same green polo shirt that was 40% off at Macy’s? Have you become a dreadful legitimate suburbanite who runs home to water the flowers in the summer and to plow the driveway in the winter? Are you afraid of strangers lurking in your ‘yard’? Do you eat dinner and watch T.V. then fall asleep most nights, winter or summer? Do you feel like you have nothing in common with your kids or your spouse?

It’s OK, you are not alone. You are part of a bigger machine called suburbia. Remember the neighborhood in Edward Scissor Hands? Be like Edward. Try to be yourself, even if you are different, despite all the challenges and requirements to be like the Jones’s, Patels and Wangs. Be a breath of fresh air, and get some as well!


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