An Arizona (Bubble) State of Mind

In my experience, Arizona is a bubble that shields us from national events or disasters. I haven’t pinpointed an exact cause, but I surmise it has something to do with the state’s culture and location. We’re not on either coast, and we’ve got so much land between us and adjoining states that it’s easy to feel isolated. Moreover, when the sun is shining nearly 24/7, it can be difficult to stay focused on something difficult or upsetting that’s happening thousands of miles away. Also, we don’t interact with people on a day to day basis, so it’s hard to cultivate a collaborative concern over something.

When 9/11 happened, I lived about 30 miles away from the towers. The entire tri-state area shutdown; all of the tunnels, bridges, and major buildings were evacuated and closed. The sentiment was of complete systemic shock – for weeks and months. People spoke with their neighbors, friends, relatives, and complete strangers on the street about it. As you probably heard, there was an incredibly unified feel between people. However, when my family moved to AZ in January of ’02, the emotional climate was completely different. Yes, everyone had been wholly shocked by what happened, and yes sympathy was unbounded for the tragedy, but no one really heard details everyday, and there was a definite disconnect in understanding the severity of the situation, in my opinion.  The same is true for other newsworthy events nationwide, and perhaps globally. When planes crash in India, economic crises hit Greece, hurricanes strike in New Orleans, terrorists fail to explode a car in Times Square, or even an oil spill occurs in the Gulf of Mexico, we see a snippet or a sound clip, but we don’t really feel it here in Arizona. I don’t really feel it here in Arizona.

Let’s take the oil spill. We hear it on the news, in the paper, online, everywhere, but there’s no real connection between us and the spill. All I hear is politics – words. This person accusing that one of lack of action, that one claiming it’s Obama’s “Katrina,” and some other dolt claiming to have experience that she/he doesn’t have. It’s so contrived by the media whores. There are numbers and statistics, but the entire situation has been so oversaturated that it’s lost all meaning for me. I feel completely isolated from it.

In New York,  I felt more invested in the outcome of the ordeal than I am here.  Maybe, aside from location, it’s also due to the type of communities that surround us. In NY, I felt like I was part of a community – lots of different people from various backgrounds going through the day together in the subway, the bus, or on the streets. I felt invested in humanity, so to speak. Here, we don’t talk to our neighbors, or bump into each other on the street. We drive everywhere, run into our homes to hide from the furnace outside, and don’t really interact. Our friends live miles away, and we usually can’t get there without driving. The culture of the state is to enclose each of us in an air-conditioned bubble for six months out of the year. So how can we expect to feel personally connected to events occuring around the country and the world?

I don’t know how to fix this, to be honest. It’s an easy bubble to get trapped in – any ideas?

What do YOU think about this bubble? Can you relate, or am I only speaking for myself?

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3 responses to “An Arizona (Bubble) State of Mind

  1. i can totally relate-you can only feel that “trauma” IF you were there…

  2. I think the isolation extends beyond Arizona. I have found that in many places that I’ve lived and when it comes down to it, I think it is due to placing too much importance on independence. I for one pride myself in my independence, but slowly I am seeing the detriment that has caused in my life as well. Americans live a life of isolation and in general are not willing to extend their social circle to many beyond a few close friends and family. I think that this issue becomes more apparent when there is a natural disaster or something terrible happens. I have found that if I want to feel connected to an issue it takes mental effort and emotional guts. I have to break down my own emotional barriers to try to really listen for the story that’s taking place not just the event that happened. I’m not special, but I do think that it takes special effort to learn how to be Emphathetic and not just sympathetic….anyway, that’s my food for thought 🙂

    • You know, I think you’re right! What I find most about places like NY and NJ is that people are more connected to their families and friends. They liver closer and have more emotional involvement with them – and we lack that in places like Arizona.

      I also pride myself on my independence, but at the same time I try very hard to be connected to my family, and I can see how difficult it is to be independent and not become isolated.

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