Living Alone

29 Aug

Have you heard that the most coveted metropolitan apartments are those with 3 or more bedrooms?  If so, did you, like me, conjure images of bloated blended families, bedrooms crammed with same gender minors?  How quaint you and I are.  The bedroom explosion is not due to excessive procreation or bunches of newly made families.  This new real estate holy grail’s raison d’etre is so that no child should ever have to share a room.  There are a handful of very legitimate reasons that children should have separate rooms (ex., gender differences, disabilities, etc.) but we’re not talking about those right now. We are talking about small people who do not share a bedroom and sometimes not even a bathroom(!) with others.

Ordinarily I care not how people choose to fritter away their resources.  I do care however, when I can connect the dots between those choices and how they will/do affect society at large.

A wonderful piece was written today about college roommate selection.  The author mourns the loss of randomness of the process and bemoans the new (internet generated) self selection of like-minded roommates.  I share with him the loss of no longer leaving room for serendipity in one’s (young) life.  I have observed what I consider even more troubling, and that is the rise of the “single.”  When I was a freshman, our (cave) dorms were populated with doubles and triples.  I think there might have been a handful of singles, available at a premium, stashed in some undesirable old-people (a.k.a. upperclassmen) dorm.  Some people came to college with a friend from high school.  Those duos seemed to be equally split between choosing to room together and choosing to take their spin at the wheel.  Eight of us shared a living area, 20+ of us shared a common area and 100+ of us shared a television room.  And to any reader under 25, YES, we had indoor plumbing.

The last time I was on a college campus (much more recently than is normative) there was communal gathering, but no actual communing that I could discern.  Not surprising, the parallel play runs amok on campus.  Walking, and eating together still occurs, but all while the participants (electronically) communicate with others.  Single rooms are no longer the outliers, and there are more “grab and go” food stalls than dining rooms.  I have no issue with progress (technical or otherwise) but I do have an issue with isolationism.

Bert and Ernie have been negotiating shared space since the dawn of (children’s television workshop) time.  They compromised on lights-out among other grave points of conflict.  I wonder if the recent (abhorrent) discourse about the sexual orientation of (non-genital equipped puppet) characters, is a sign of the times.  Do we no longer even recognize the intent of these characters? Is sharing of space so foreign we must assign romantic intent?  What are we now teaching our toddler by giving them their own room?  What lowered social expectation do we have for our college bound adolescent when we approve a single?

Are these then the young people who enter the workforce (via the subway where they have sat with their legs splayed or stood at the door) to play their music audibly, eat (pungent) foods at their desk, and emanate noise through their attire and scent through their health and beauty aides?  Do they grow up to view public space as private, demonstrating this belief system by; crinkling plastic bags in theatres, strolling down the middle of sidewalks with double-wide strollers, driving without burden of directional signals, etc.?  Perhaps not.  Perhaps I am making a flawed leap of logic.  But leaping aside, I am at a loss how not teaching children/adolescents to live well with others is progress.

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Posted by on August 29, 2011 in Childhood


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