Saturday, 9 February 2008

Behind the gates

I don't see the attraction of a so-called gated community. Why would anyone want to live behind high-security walls and barriers where just getting in and out is like being at Fort Knox? What are they so afraid of?

There's a huge block of apartments going up just a few streets away, which are being sold on the basis that the security measures are so elaborate you need never worry about crime.

But the local streets are perfectly safe anyway. The chances of anyone nicking anything are practically zero. You could leave the telly in the middle of the road and it would still be there three hours later.

It's sad that some people have such an exaggerated fear of crime they're convinced their homes will be stripped bare unless they're protected by every security device known to man.

I'd hate living like that. I want to just walk in and out of my house without a fuss. I wouldn't want to run a gauntlet of security guards, padlocks and access codes every time I popped out for a newspaper or a pound of tomatoes. It may be necessary for a gawped-at celebrity, but is your average homeowner really that vulnerable?

How easily fear turns into raging paranoia. And how cleverly the idea of gated communities trades on it.
..................................................................................

Work shock: Once again I'm a victim of the mania for job restructuring. It looks as if I might soon be out of work and back on the jobhunting treadmill. Watch this space....
..................................................................................
Blog shock: Good grief, I'm on the shortlist for Best Newcomer in the Irish Blog Awards. Some mistake surely? The bribe must have been far too generous....

25 comments:

Grannymar said...

I am sorry to hear about the job shock. Lets hope it doesn't happen.

laurie said...

i suspect gated communities are inspired by more than fear--but also by a desire to appear elite, important, wealthy, above the masses.

they appeal to some of our worst instincts.

i'm terribly sorry about the job. the economy is difficult just about everywhere right now. my place has just laid off about a dozen more people too.

Nick said...

Grannymar - I fear the worst, but I'll just have to see what happens. After five and a half years there, maybe it's time to move on anyway....

Laurie - Yes, that thought had occurred to me too, that it makes them look important and above the hoi polloi. And they can pretend they're up there with the gawped-at celebs. Thanks for the commiserations!

herschelian said...

I'm off to South Africa tomorrow, and will be spending a couple of days in Joburg where gated, or as they call them, 'secure' housing complexes are two a penny. Mind you the crime rate there is mindboggling. It is a little disconcerting however to see a gate with a bloody big sign on it saying
"XYZ Security Ltd: This house is protected. Immediate Response by Armed Paramedics" - d'you think they shoot you first and then treat you medically?

Nick said...

I'm always reading horrifying stories about the level of crime and violence in Joburg. It sounds like 'secure housing' is a necessity there. Tell us more when you return!

Wisewebwoman said...

First of all, commiserations on the job insecurity, Nick, the economy is not looking very good, but I am sure with your skills that something will turn up.
As to gated communities, how sick, sad and sorry a bunch that dwell within them. They are everywhere and I'm awfully proud to say that none of my friends would dream of living in one of those prisons.
Nor would I. Nor would you.
XO
WWW

Medbh said...

Oh, how scary, Nick. My fingers are crossed for you and may there be no threat to your job.

Living in a gated community seems like living in prison. Who wants that? And always, security is an illusion.

Manuel said...

nick I hope your job worries are sorted soon....and as for the main post itself...what laurie said....

Nick said...

www - thanks for the concern. Yes, who would want to live in a set-up that's so jail-like? One day the locals will besiege them and won't let them out at all!

Medbh - yes, a bit scary but I'm an optimistic soul - something will turn up! Quite so, security is an illusion. Just like 'job security' in fact.

Manuel - thanks. Yes, I guess feeling important is a factor, though why put up with all that laborious 24/7 security just to feel important? Crazy.

Baino said...

Out here they're both elitist and I suspect a replacement for the loss of the village community. Many of them have say communal tennis courts and swimming pools. Little villages in their own right. Also many are the choice of older people who feel safer in a lockup. Problem is, what to do if you have to get out in a hurry! There's usually only one entrance and exit. Wouldn't happen in building design where exits have to be many and well labelled! Not for me I'm afraid.

Nick said...

Ah yes, the idea of a community - a popular sales pitch for all sorts of things. But of course it's not a real community that's evolved naturally, it's an artificial one plonked down somewhere. And you're right, the development I mentioned is aimed specifically at nervous oldies. Good point about the one exit - suppose there was a fire and the gate wasn't working?

Thriftcriminal said...

Ha, I rely on the fact that I have two children in my house that have rendered all items therein utterly worthless of looting.

Nick said...

Hi Thrift. I see you reached me via the brilliant Head Rambles. A good point indeed, children lay waste to everything in sight. Probably wouldn't deter a burglar though, as they wouldn't know if the house was full of pristine valuables or trashed rubbish. Perhaps you should put up a sign "Warning, children. Everything valuable wrecked."

Los Angelista said...

Ugh, gated communities are the antithesis of the word "community". There's too many of them here in the States. Also, I tagged you for a meme! Come see.

Nick said...

As you say, Liz, the exact opposite of the idea of community, unless your idea of community is an open jail with maximum security. Merciful heavens, not another meme! Will check it out.

red said...

well done on your short list nomination.

Mes Deux Cents said...

Hi Nick,

I think the symbolism of gated communities may be more the point than the security aspect, since most gated communities are, as you say, in safe areas.

People who live in them seem to be saying they don't really want to be apart of the community.

I'm sorry to hear of the job situation. I hope it turns into an opportunity for you to find something much better! :)

Medbh said...

Congrats on making the shortlist, Nick.

Nick said...

Red and Medbh - gee thanks!

MDC - That's the message everyone's getting, they don't want to be part of the community, they're terrified of being dragged down by the riff-raff. And thanks for the sympathy - yes hopefully it's not a problem but an opportunity!

conortje said...

Nick - sorry to hear about the work situation. I'll keep my fingers crossed. Maybe you can go into full time blogging :-) Congrats on the short list - much deserved.
I don't think we have any gate communities in NL, thank god.

Nick said...

Thanks for both, Conor! Clearly in the Netherlands people are less paranoid and less pretentious and don’t mind mixing with us lesser mortals!

Caro said...

Congrats on making the shortlist Nick, and sorry to hear about the job troubles. Maybe it's a sign there's something better out there for you?

Nick said...

Thanks Caro. And yes, I'm sure there's something much much better. I'm an engrained optimist!

John Self said...

Yes congratulations Nick - a much deserved shortlisting in my view.

Good luck with either the old job or a new one, depending on what happens. I hate insecurity, and once when I was made redundant I found myself much more relaxed than I thought I would be, simply because I finally knew what was happening!

Nick said...

Thanks, John. I know what you mean about the uncertainty and how relieved and relaxed you can feel when something's been decided. And congrats on your own shortlisting!