The Facebook feeds of my Seattle friends are all about the recent spike of murders there; 21 people so far this year, which was the grand total for all of 2011. While I’d never joke about people dying and am not really joking about anything this time, I am slightly bemused (which is not the same as amused, look it up) at how this is considered to be sensational news.
Maybe I’m not Googling correctly, but I can’t seem to find how many murders have occurred in St. Louis so far in 2012. However, I was able to see that St. Louis’ violent crime rate for 2012 is projected to be at 7,647, with 156 of those crimes being murders/manslaughters. Statistically, a resident of St. Louis City has a 1 in 51 chance of being a victim of violent crime, while in Seattle, that chance is 1 in 171. Seattle is considerably less dangerous than St. Louis – considerably less dangerous than most cities of similar size, actually, despite the recent data – and really, very few cities outside of Detroit and Camden compare to St. Louis in terms of shittiness year after year.
Of course I want to live somewhere safer. This is just one of the reasons we’ve got our sights set on Seattle later this year. But due to St. Louis’ continuous title as one of the country’s most dangerous cities, it seems odd to me that murder can be big news. It’s kind of de rigueur here, and doesn’t usually make much noise unless more than three people are dead in the same place or someone shot at a cop. So again, I’m not mocking Seattle’s crime victims for being victims or saying that people shouldn’t be upset about murders, but I do find it strange, I guess, and maybe a little endearing that it’s all such big news.
And I’m pretty excited to move somewhere like that, even though I now live in one of the lowest crime areas of St. Louis City. I went up (or down, depends on how you look at it) four whole crime rate distinctions from my old neighborhood! Movin’ on up, indeed!
In other cross-country news, I’m considering unfollowing every SoCal-based Tumblrer who tries moving to New York and then moves back to California. Christ almighty, the way these people complain. Yeah, dumb-dumbs, we know New York moves faster, is harder, and takes more everything than L.A. does. That’s the point. I know you thought you were the fastest, hardest, and everythingest you knew, but that doesn’t mean you can hack it in a place that considers itself the center of the Western world for a valid reason. People from Omaha can move to New York and make it their home. You can’t. There’s a reason for that.
When I tell people who’ve known me for awhile that Graham and I are moving to Seattle, they express concern. “Didn’t you hate it out West the first time?” they ask. Well, yes. Yes I did. Like, a lot. But first of all, the Internet did not exist in its current form back then, which made things like finding restaurants and knowing where I was going way too problematic than it had to be. Second, Seattle West and SoCal West are entirely different animals; in fact, anything north of Sacramento is so entirely different from Southern California, they can’t even be classified as in the same region.
While I’m sure that a lot of people like Southern California for some entirely valid reasons, I found it to be one of the most soulless, vapid, obnoxiously self-obsessed places I’ve ever seen and I am thankful every day that I had the good sense to leave. This has nothing to do with the person I was with at the time, by the way, although I think he was a very good fit for Southern California because he was just as selfish and empty-headed as most people there. Because I enjoy making broad generalizations, I’ll say that people in Southern California have trouble understanding the existence of the world outside of Southern California, and that the violent crime rate where they live vs. anywhere else would never even occur to them unless they themselves were the one being murdered. It was literally stunning to me that I could go anywhere in San Diego and be such a non-person to every single human being I encountered (with the exception of my upstairs neighbor, a 70-something old lady named Apollonia who made me terrible diabetic brownies but I was so touched by the sentiment that I cried by myself for about half a day), and that my just-over-a-year there was spent witnessing so many daily ignorances of basic human kindness, from homeless people to car accidents to anyone who was obviously lost or in distress. I don’t think that compassion or concerns are purely Midwestern traits, nor do I think they can or should be applied to every conceivable situation – remember those things I said about St. Louis, and I’m from here – but I do think there are areas of the country where they are considered detriments of character. Southern California is one of these places. It is the land of Me, of Hurry Up and Wait, of No One Else Matters and Everything That Isn’t Here Isn’t Worth the Time, and Why Bother Unless You’re 110 Pounds and Possessing of Melanin. It’s soul-sickening, is what it is, and I have grave concerns about the people who claim to love it there.
I’ll just stay here in my relatively safe little pocket of St. Louis and wait for the day when I can move to an empirically safer and much larger pocket in Seattle, where some people are still polite and I can wear hoodies and read the news without being looked at like a space alien from Planet Pale Brainy Fatass.