Thinking about public spaces and microtransactions.
These two things are not related.
But I'm still thinkin' about 'em at the same time.
1) We got no public spaces. They're mostly gone, usurped by commercial spaces.
2) Payment processors have rendered payments of less than roughly $1.50 worthless.
I'm going to discuss each of these things in thread form.
There's a park in front of my apartment complex, and it has a giant electronic billboard facing it, that plays video and audio 24 hours a day. It's a public space made commercial.
We treat coffee shops like public spaces, but they still close at 10pm, and give you dirty looks if you don't buy something.
Hell, three nights a week when it's cold out the lady and I will just go wander around various retail establishments so that we can get some walking in, and not be out in the wind and the rain.
When I get together with friends, we mostly have to do it in someone's home, because our options are that or a bar or a coffee shop, because even commercial spaces that were at one time geared towards socialization and drawing a crowd have either disappeared or shifted their business model to one that places greater emphasis on consumption.
(Most arcades are gone, for example. Tabletop stores are moving towards a more event based model, where there is some kind of buy in for the evening.)
I can't blame these retail establishments for doing these things. Money is tight, inflation eats it away. Wages increase at a rate bellow inflation, anyway. Our buying power is lower than it has ever been.
Of course businesses are struggling to keep up.
Of course traditional public spaces are being eroded by more value extraction.
There's so little to go around from all of us, and capitalism is a game with winners and losers.
I never lived on a college campus, but I had lots of friends that did. I spent a large portion of my late teens and early 20s in the Public Spaces that college campuses provide. Every building, it seemed, had a huge ground floor with tables and electricity and wifi, and some of them also had free coffee.
I imagine that this is what it would be like if we made libraries more focused on being community spaces, gave them longer hours, and encouraged socialization or events in the evenings.
And my apartment complex has that kind of a lounge area. Many apartment complexes do.
But when I was hanging out on campuses, I would just walk in to a building, plop down, and start working.
I've never been to an apartment complex that didn't have access control on the doors to the building, the doors to the lobby, the internet connection, and the printer. You know?
Heck, at this place I have to swipe my dongle to get a cup of coffee.
It's almost a public space, but it isn't really.
In my home town, they have a "community center" that is allegedly available for community events.
The sign says "community center"
If you call them, they answer the phone "Senior Center"
You can rent the building for events two nights a month, if you've already rented it before.
Every other night of the month, it's closed.
I'm not sure what even is the point.
But even in other towns that have "community" centers, you're still looking at a pay out of a few hundred dollars to get an empty room and some chairs for the evening.
It'd work if you wanted to host an event, but it's not really what I would call a community center, in that it is by design not at the center of any communities.
Anyway, I don't really have a point here other than that our lack of public spaces is wearing us down as people and we should work to create new public spaces.
@ajroach42 You've just detailed why I don't live in the big city.
Cold, impersonal, horrible places with zero trust. Also, the aggressive driving habits with no manners at all.
I'm basing most of this off life in small towns.
@ajroach42 Really!? Um, without doxxing yourself, where-ish?
@ajroach42 Those are all pretty populous places (to me).
I live in https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terrace,_British_Columbia with ~12k ppl. The next biggest place is a 7 hour drive and has about 70k ppl. My kids couldn't believe how big it was! :-)
My town in North GA has a population of 2k people. The town we were in in Alabama has a population of 6k.
The other place in GA was pretty big, but still definitely a suburb.
It's just the American south, or the US in general.
We're not nearly as isolated as what you're describing, but you'd be hard pressed to find many places in the states that are.
Canada is the second largest country, but nearly empty of people.
My province is the area of approx. 1.5X that of your state of texas, but has a population of only ~4.5 mm and most of those live near the border in the south.
I'm thinking about your main point. Where could I go to hang out for free? The mall. Library. College (cafe and library anyhow). It's winter 6-7 mos of the year, so I exclude parks etc.
@ajroach42 I thought you were talking about cities, because of all the locks and checks and stuff.
Ah, no that's my apartment in DC, although it was also true of my apartments in GA.
But the rest of this is pretty applicable to all the places I've lived. There aren't enough public spaces in the US, and even the smallest towns feel the effects.
Haha! No, sorry Washington DC.
@ajroach42 I have an internet friend of over 15 years in the district of columbia and also a IRL (but mostly internet) friend in dawson creek (because it is such a long drive).
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