Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Curbed: Are Wealthy Neighbors Boring?

Here's a post on Curbed that caught my eyes a few days ago. A reader asked:

I have an apartment in a new, relatively small condo building in lower Manhattan. Although many of the residents are creative, artist types, the atmosphere in the building is one of dullness and boredom. I might as well be living in the suburbs! So the question is: Does wealth and sophistication often breed dullness and distance from other people? Or is this some kind of "neighbor fear" or shyness? All I know is that neighbors hesitate to say hello to one another, and instead scurry quickly into their units. What is your experience?
I was recently having a conversation with someone in which the phrase "boring banker type" was used, so the association of money and boringness was kind of intriguing me. How one interacts with neighbors is only one part of the question. There may be certain cultural tendencies that are more common within different income levels, but I don't think having money necessarily makes people boring. One friend of mine, a struggling artist type herself, once told me that she found people more interesting if they had also experienced some kind of struggle to succeed or a sense of living with risk. To her, having money meant that people took safety and comfort for granted, and that they hadn't had interesting experiences.
Of course to others, it's boring to be poor! Money gives people the opportunity to do interesting things that might otherwise not be possible, like traveling, or working in low-paying but rewarding careers, or devoting oneself to philanthropy.
As for the issue of isolation from others, I do think money can cause that. I've written about this before-- the fact that the more money we have, the more we use private cars instead of public transportation, the more we live in private homes instead of apartment buildings, and use technology like iPods and DVD players to experience music and movies that we might otherwise hear or see out loud, in public, among other people.
Comments on the original Curbed posting included these remarks:
As far as rich people being dull, perhaps spending all that time counting your money, excuse me "managing" your money, can make Jack/Jill a dull boy/girl.

Expensive buildings, generally, have better soundprofing. and yes wealthier people do tend to be more boring. More space does means less human interaction. Even the children of the wealthy have less interaction as they don't have to share a room and can do as they please.

I prefer not to talk to poor people because I am rich and they are not. I am better than them, and they are beneath me. I wish genocide was legal. All poor people would be gone under my rules! Smelly, dumb bastards!
As you'll see, some of the comments went even further into deliberately provocative, rude, trollish remarks, but it was an interesting dialogue nonetheless! What's your opinion?


Anonymous said...

Some people are boring.
Some people are interesting.

It has nothing to do with the size of the wallet.

That said... some people who "have" money don't flash it or brag...

PiggyBankBlues said...

i don't find wealthy people any more sleep inducing than the working poor. what is boring, however, is living in their neighborhoods. i thrive on cultural and class diversity, and the wealthier the 'hood, the more homogenous it is. if i wanted to live like that i'd live in the suburbs.

i love curbed, but a lot of the comments are class warfare.

Escape Brooklyn said...

I've noticed that NYC has gotten increasingly "suburban." Maybe it's the Red Lobster that's opening around the corner from my work that's pushed me over the edge, but this city resembles my native Chicago suburb more and more. Not exactly what I expected!

But I suppose that has more to do with the corporatization of America and it's happening all over. We see it in NYC lately because the commercial spaces are so darned expensive to rent, so only chains can afford the overhead (often paying exorbitant rent simply to have a "presence" in NYC, even if the store isn't acually turning a profit).

But can we can blame the increased number of rich people in NYC for *that*? I guess they're keeping residential real estate prices high because they can afford it. (And with that logic, so are the hipsters who pay outrageous rents and turnover every year.) But I don't know about the chain stores.

But are rich people personally boring? The folks I know who have money have to work insanely long hours to earn it, so yeah, they're probably boring because they don't do anything except work. Unless they're trust fund kids - those brats get to travel a lot at least. ;)

Marina Martin said...

I don't think there's a correlation between wealth and how interesting a person is. There are too many variables leading to either of those situations.

I move to a new state at least once a year, and I'd have to say that the most social apartment complex I lived in was in a wealthy neighborhood in Los Angeles, while the most boring was in a wealthy suburb of Portland, OR. So -- no correlation there for me.

Unknown said...

I don't know if what I'm about to say is related, but it is in my mind, so I'm offering it. It seems like the more money we made the less we need people in our lives. Growing up, my parents would trade babysitting, friends would bring in food at times of crisis, help each other move, etc. Now that I have money, I pay people to do those things (or will in the case of babysitting). Because of my lack of need for these things, it does create a lesser sense of community. I still have good friends who I am very close to, but we don't provide for each other like my parents' friends did.

thisisbeth said...

I think what's interesting to one person is dull to another. I like sports, and I love talking about them. To my co-workers who like going out to movies, I'm boring--but I think they're boring, too.

I know people who enjoy their jobs so much that it's sometimes hard to tell when they're playing and when they're working--they've managed to make great careers out of doing things that others enjoy as hobbies, but don't put as much effort into. People who don't enjoy that hobby at all would find these wealthy guys immensely boring.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Beth. When I made a third of what I do now, I could go to the local bar, drink cheap drinks, watch videos and talk about who was better - Britney or Madonna. 6 years later, I work more, have more disposable income, and by default (not really conscious choice) hang out with a crowd who would rather talk about novels and theather, and drink wine. Each group finds the other dull because they cannot relate.

Oh, and even 6 years ago, before these crazy shenanigans, Madonna always won. :)

M said...

I agree with the first reply (anonymous) about some people being boring and some people being interesting. I also think some people are just shy or busy. I live in a building with five other units. We have only met one neighobr, and I don't think we're snobbish or boring!

T'Pol said...

Sometimes the difference between the income levels make the better-off person a bit more shy. One does not want to be envied because of her/his life style and comfort level. Of course there are some people who would like to wave their many around to show-off too. I am not friendly with my neighbors because, I like a private life and I do not like anyone to just knock my door and come in as they please. Besides, it is easier to handle rude and loud neighbors if you have not developed a somewhat social relationship.

Anonymous said...

I've had the benefit of spending a lot of time around different classes. I grew up in poor and working class areas, but went to college with and thru career gotten to know a lot of affluent and very wealthy people.

Clearly, money gives people the luxury to pursue education, travel, and so-called "interesting" experiences and vocations. Even if you scratch the surface of a starving artist type, you will generally find the undercoat of an affuent upbringing and expensive education.

The poor and working class people I haved lived around were mostly focused on getting by. Family, TV, sports, and popular music were primary interests, not politics, art, dance, literature, etc. However, I would agree, that in poor and working class areas, there was a much greater sense of community. People truly needed to depend on each other.

Now, that said, what you find interesting or boring in people has much to do with who you are. I can't really say if its a matter of rich or poor, because I simply find people and how they live their lives interesting regardless of class.