Gentrification and anxiety.
The effects of gentrification are an interesting lens through which to view mental health. And before I get too far into the esoteric or perhaps abstract; I think a critical piece is that gentrification is not a general term. It is not used for when a lively immigrant community moves in, paints the buildings bright pinks and oranges and celebrate with all sorts of new food spots. A neighborhood losing its character comes from a parallel to colonialism – in that those with more power and money come into an area that is unable to defend itself.
The aesthetic of gentrification is recognizable across regions, cultures and nations. The ability for it to be replicated and the loss of unique and individual character is deeply connected to a psychological sense of loss and anxiety. Because how we feel about ourselves is deeply informed by the community; what the community reflects back to us and how we interpret that reverb. What happens if the echo bounces from an antiseptic wall? That may be fine if your selfhood was formed on a cul-de-sac with cookie cutter architecture and a Gap wardrobe. But if the environment of our origin was boisterous, crowded, dirty, people’s day-to-day lives layers of sediments.
In me there is a dissonance because as a person living in close proximity to others, I want to be in conversation. But these people want me to maintain their aesthetic. These people believe in the powers of calling in a noise disturbance. They seek a police intervention instead of a simple conversation. And that is the energy beginning to pulse against me.
It triggers my pre-existing symptoms of anxiety. Circular thinking amongst non-unique scripts – if everyone around me is saying the same things then is it my thinking or the environment that can’t get over the repetition. I get irate at the petty complaints about parking, litter and not enough organic food options. Irritability is a common symptom. So then is their annoyance at life contagious? Is it mine or theirs? These privileged people cannot face the larger and acute problems of our world; all their petty observations trigger my anxiety.