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The Lost Common Spaces of Our Hyper-Segmented Lives

posted by Jason Kottke   Jun 03, 2019

From Ranjan Roy, an essay called The Sweetgreen-ification of Society about how technology and customer segmentation are increasingly separating people into socioeconomic groups that don’t interact:

Just next time you get lunch, take a good look around you.

We are losing the spaces we share across socioeconomic strata. Slowly, but surely, we are building the means for an everyday urbanite to exist solely in their physical and digital class lanes. It used to be the rich, and then everyone else. Now in every realm of daily consumer life, we are able to efficiently separate ourselves into a publicly visible delineation of who belongs where.

We lost the lunch line. We lost the coffee cart. We’re losing the commute. Innovation has bestowed upon us an entire homescreen worth of transportation options that allow us to congest the roads and never brush elbows with those taking the subway. Meanwhile, the crumbling of the subways aren’t felt by an ever growing number of the somewhat well-to-do.

At a certain point, it becomes difficult to have a democracy on this basis. This reminds of a Tom Junod essay I think about often as I’m navigating daily life in the US: The Water-Park Scandal and Two Americas in the Raw: Are We a Nation of Line-Cutters, or Are We the Line? (via @naveen)