In a recently broadcast episode of US show Modern Family, the gang headed to Florida to visit their Granddad in his gated community. As the manicured lawns and tidy neighbourhood rolled across my TV screen, I found myself thinking that there was something very neat about living in such an organised and comfortable space. Even when a caretaker showed up on her electric scooter complete with authoritarian country club attitude, I wasn’t entirely put off.
I get a similar feeling when I visit friends who live in apartment blocks with doormen and 24 hour security. It’s that sense of being protected and cut-off from the world, safe in the knowledge that aliens won’t be allowed access. Behind the gate you can drive to your home knowing that nobody is after you and behind the broad back of the doorman you can enter the lift knowing that the front door is shot behind you. You can leave whoever is outside the safezone to look after themselves.
Critics (and there are many) will tell you that you’re being antisocial, that you’re damaging social cohesion, that such living arrangements are manifestations of a them-and-us attitude and that they’re not even that secure anyway because statistics show that you’re no more protected from crime in these environments than you would be on the outside.
And then there’s the symbolism. What does our desire to barricade ourselves, to pull up the drawbridge, to build walls that separate our peer group from those on the outside say about us as humans, about our fears and about our attitude to the world? Are the doormen and the gates microversions of border walls between nations (and, previously, city states), or are they just sensible and reasonable measures that we take in order to protect our families and our belongings? Isn’t it fair enough to crave this sense of security, particularly if one lives in a crime-ridden, dangerous area?
I don’t know. But I would love to hear your thoughts and comments. Especially if you live in a gated community, be it vertical or horizontal.
Posted by Mette on 22nd April 2017