The nation is all atwitter about the supposed demise of New York City. It’s going to hell! Will it ever come back? Everyone is leaving!
As the New York correspondent for The Federalist, part of my job is to tell the rest of the country what is going on in our greatest city, and what the mood is. Right now? Well, the mood is something along the lines of “Mind your freakin’ business.” Does that sound harsh? Yes, of course it does. This is New York City.
Okay. Real talk. Is New York in big trouble from five months of senseless lockdown? Yeah. Are people fleeing the city as if there were a forest fire going on? Sure. Is our mayor an incompetent fool who couldn’t find France on a labeled map of France? Obviously. Is there any chance that Democrats will be voted out of office and the city will have responsible leadership? No, there isn’t.
But here’s the thing. I get to say that. You don’t.
My friend, the New York Post columnist Karol Markowicz, put it succinctly.
Me: NYC is a mess.
You: NYC is a mess.
Me: I will fight you.
— Karol Markowicz (@karol) August 14, 2020
There are a few things to understand about all of this. First of all, yeah, lots of professionals are leaving the city very quickly, but a lot of these people were going to leave over the next few years anyway, as Nate Sliver from 538 points out.
It seems probable that many of the people who will permanently leave NYC during the pandemic are people who were likely to leave within 3-5 years anyway.
— Nate Silver (@NateSilver538) August 16, 2020
This is a normal New York City phenomenon. The technical term is “Poser Churn.” Professionals in their 30s start families, want more space, and don’t want to do cocaine as often. It becomes more like a New Year’s Eve and summer in the Hamptons specific thing, so why live in the city? They don’t need bars that close at 4 a.m. anymore. They spend enough of their time sober that driving a car becomes a reasonable option. So, why not move to Scarsdale?
Is it a problem that five years’ worth of exodus is happening in five months? Of course it is. And very seriously awful things are happening. But honestly? What happens in New York City has very little to do with what happens in the rest of the country, and it never really has. All of this doom and gloom from those who do not live inside the heartbeat of Gotham is unwelcome and comes across a little false.
We have seen you all these years. All those blockbuster movies where New York City gets destroyed. We saw the little smile creep over your faces — yeah, I’m looking at you, Boston. This little fantasy that the Big Apple gets wiped off the face of the earth and wherever you live matters for 10 seconds when it’s not hosting the Super Bowl? We get it. It’s only natural.
But listen, not for nothing. Most of us would rather live in a bombed-out, post-apocalyptic New York full of zombies and giant rabid rats than go to the swap meet. Or whatever you people do. And that’s okay! We like you guys. We are worried about your communities, too; this has all been terrible. But we don’t sit around feigning concern about how whatever place you live in is never coming back. We don’t even know where it is, or what happens there, or, you know, anything about it.
So please, just leave this up to us. Not only do most of you have no idea what you are talking about when you talk about New York, we don’t care. Has it even occurred to you that losing a generation of mostly white professionals who are suddenly scared to buy avocado toast at 2 a.m. basically means losing a bunch of de Blasio and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez voters? See, you probably didn’t think of that. But we have.
New York City is like capitalism: it’s the worst place on earth, except for all the others. We don’t really have a huge problem with all of your concern, but it’s kind of like the person on Instagram worrying if Leonardo DiCaprio has enough energy to keep up with his 24-year-old girlfriend. We’ll manage.
The going is gonna be tough, but it always was. Maybe not for the millennial professionals who have only ever known Disney Land New York where they live with college roommates in luxury apartment buildings with way too much communal space, but for the rest of us? Nothing to worry about. We got this. It’s all good, and frankly, we’d prefer you not talk about it.