I recently moved to a new city. A population of about a million so I didn't expect it to be radically different to where I have lived before. But in my first month here I just felt like things were radically wrong and couldn't put my finger on it. On the surface things look normal but there is a certain off-ness to the place. Almost like a town of stepford wives. People say the right things but there's an undercurrent of emptiness here that makes me feel like I've moved into some isolated enclave of weirdness. Then last night on my way home I got it. The couple behind me were talking and the woman said that XXXX city isn't a creative place.
I got a big a ha! Moment. That's what bugs me about this place it's where creativity goes to die. I had a think of all I had seen here and yes, yes, yes this is it! All the stores are carbon copies of each other, not one of them is unique in anyway. It's the same old crap ten times over. The eateries make the same food have the same decor. The people here are simple, in an very unpleasant way. Not simple as in mentally slow, or as in having only basic desires or interests. But simple in a hollow, want the same things, no variation to life kind of way. It's like meeting the same person over and over again. Nothing more to see nothing more to do.
I went to a local designers event, and what struck me is that not only were all the designers peddling the same aesthetic, the same lack of attention to craftsmanship, but that 60% of the stalls were actually from interstate. Although it was a local event and very small (probably about 30 stands in total) hardly any of them were local people and what was there were the drab remnants of creativity from somewhere else. I walked away feeling really bleak about this place because not only should a relatively large population like this harbour some form of creative outlet, but there is no counter-culture here, no local oddities, flair or flavour. It is actually a culture free zone.
I've lived in far more isolated and smaller places in this that had a lot more character to them. The town I was living in (pop 5,000, mostly retirees) had a more vibrant market culture. This is what life would be like if a city were made up entirely of middle aged couples with an SUV, 2 children and a dog.
Glad to see my culture shock isn't imagined, now wondering how I can survive here for the remaining 10 months of my lease.