The American space program

It has nothing to do with what goes on beyond the stratosphere:

Even within families, square footage available in the average home exceeds that of families in the rest of the world. Europeans have 1/2 the space of average Americans; Africans live in 1/26 the space available to us.

So Americans get used to having room to stretch out. The cultural expectations of the rest of the world is that adults will have to manage their interactions within their family to maintain harmonious relations.

Outside of that family, Americans have space, Europeans do not — lots are much larger in America, allowing a bigger buffer zone between neighbors. So, what your neighbor thinks you should do has less effect on you. Acting independently, and without a whole lot of concern about what the neighbors think, is a noted marker of American culture.

Which is not to say that everyone on this side of the pond thinks this way: there are people in America who really aspire to live in rabbit warrens. But nobody sells downtown properties on the basis of “You’ll share walls with three neighbors”; the pitch is always either convenience or proximity to Where the Action Is.

3 comments »

  1. fillyjonk »

    23 June 2019 · 4:32 pm

    I’d make some snarky comment about “if people weren’t all so terrible, I might be more comfortable living in closer proximity to them” but then I don’t know if those Europeans who live in hive-like apartment blocks have problems with that guy who wants to play his music on “11” at 2 am on a Sunday or that woman who makes tuna-durian saute every evening for dinner.

    Or maybe because every apartment I’ve ever lived in was, by and large, one inhabited by college students, that I have such a low opinion of them.

  2. McGehee »

    23 June 2019 · 5:00 pm

    Not only are those in America who want to live in rabbit warrens, there are those in America who think it’s horrible anyone is allowed to live any other way.

    The cold civil war going on right now is between them and the rest of us.

  3. hollyh »

    24 June 2019 · 8:20 am

    I’m siding with the curmudgeons on this one. The only good neighbor is one who lives at least 1/2 an acre away.

    Some recent transgressions come to mind: the 5000-decibel motorbike rider (just yesterday), the next-door neighbor who can’t seem to avoid driving his pick-up into my flower garden, the other neighbor who proudly displays his “Mosquito Joe” sign, while I am struggling to support pollinators just a few feet away from him. And that same neighbor’s kid brother who revs up his crappy old pickup out front, to the point that hubby and I have to abandon our peaceful porch sitting, so we can run inside and breathe.

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