Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Hey Roomie! My Computer is Not Your Personal Porn Store

Need-based roommate situations are one of the most looked over social institutions in this country. They are amazing. The results. Sometimes they work, sometimes they end in bloody double homicides. Nonetheless, they are an institution that crosses the socio-economic spectrum: from people pooling food stamps, to priveleged college students at private schools.

David Chen of the New York Times takes an eye or two to the topic of roommates in NYC:

In New York, the eternal struggle to cope with the high cost of living has often meant a willingness to live with just about anyone, anyhow.

Adults in their 30's routinely move back in with their parents. Young artists bunk with other young artists in $3,000-a-month apartments intended for two tenants, not six. Poor immigrants wedge themselves into unsafe tenements, mimicking generations before them.

But more and more, the unforgiving math of housing economics is altering and upending the lives of older New Yorkers as well, forcing them into urgent partnerships in which embarrassment is eclipsed by necessity, fear must be swallowed and the loves and habits of a lifetime must be bent just to make do -- often with complete strangers.

The rest of the story is a profile of the mixed successes of elderly New Yorkers being forced to room with strangers. At best, friendships are formed out of people - no longer able to entirely care for themselves - making the health of their fellow boarder a priority. At worst, roommates take just small enough bites out of leftovers for the other person not to notice and completely ignore hankerchiefs left on doors when one of the elder patrons is "hooking up."

I personally find the institution of random roommates a benevolent one. It is a great opportunity to learn about someone from a different culture, learn how to come to terms with your own pet peeves - and for those living on campus - learn how to deal with the awkwardness of sleeping next to someone you barely know having sex/jerking off.

Lastly - if this is too long then fuck off - roommates are a sound solution to increasing urban (or even suburban) density. This seems to be a hot topic outside of Jane Jacobs and an important one as suburban sprawl seems to spawn the worst of American culture. Big Media Matt (are we on those terms?) has a good point here, and I agree that there is no need for underutilized space in a country where so many have no place to live at all (much like many in Chen's profile).


Anonymous Anonymous said...

i dont know what you are talking about, i hate my roommate

4:16 PM  

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