The Urban Wasteland
Imagine a world where all shopping is done online and brick and mortar stores have become extinct. What does this mean for society? Try and picture it, you’re walking through your city center and all the stores that were previously there are vacant and the place where the stores logo previously hung is replaced by a “for rent” sign. The only survivors in this urban wasteland are a handful of bars, cafes and restaurants. The sound of people’s chatter and footsteps, replaced by the sound of silence. If this weren’t a city this would be the part where the tumbleweed rolls through the streets.
The city center has become nocturnal, life only draws back to it when it’s dark. The pubs and clubs open then and life is drawn back to the city for a short period of time. The closing time of the bars and clubs is the closing time of the city too. The city will almost be devoid of life until the following night. Walking through the city the next morning would be like walking through a beach resort during winter. Only memories of life and the echoes of the past resonate throughout the area.
Technology does bring us closer together but it can also make us more alone. Our interactions are not as fruitful anymore, we might be able to reach more people through our phones and we might talk more often but something truly is missing.
A good cure for that feeling of loneliness would be just walking through a busy lively city center. Groups of people carrying out their shopping, groups of people walking and talking, the bustles of life all throughout the city make us feel that feeling of connectedness to remind us that we are not alone. A stroll through the city and you might run into familiar faces, your old friend from high school who you haven’t seen in years walking side by side with his wife, apart from being a reminder that we’re getting old these small interactions are part of the beautiful human experience.
The value of most things around us is in the life that is present in them. You can own the most amazing mansion with the biggest pools but it won’t be of that much value if the house is always empty and you can only share it with yourself. You can own the nicest piece of land but not having any plants, trees or animals living on it would render the land worthless, well apart from the hefty monetary value that’s probably attributed to it. Our city center devoid of people and life would be similar to this piece of land. You might have the most beautiful cathedral in your city center with the surrounding buildings having the most exquisite architecture but if there are no people to liven up this concrete jungle then it would be like having the most beautiful drawing without any colors and paint in the places where the color should clearly be.
I hope this dark scenario will never become a reality. I hope we never have to live in cities so deprived of life. Let’s do our part in keeping our local stores open. Let’s keep our city streets lively. Let’s do everything in our power to stop our city centers from becoming an urban wasteland.