Things To Get Used To In New York City

So you’ve just moved to New York. By all means, be bright eyed and bushy-tailed, because that is a good way to start things out. There are inevitably going to be some things that will be different from home, and these might irritate you initially. Over time you will begin to acclimate yourself to the unique features of this massive metropolis, and you might even start to like some of them. Frankly, the sooner you do the better. Therefore, in the spirit of public service, here’s a short list of things you’re going to have to get used to now that you’re here.

Going out is unpredictable

You’ve just arrived in New York, and you intend to enjoy yourself in Brooklyn. You hear about a show around Myrtle-Broadway at a well-known DIY venue. The cover sounds low, one of the bands is fairly well known, and 89 people have RSVP’d on Facebook. At least three of your friends text you that they’re going, so you assemble a group and make the trek through the projects to get there. You arrive at the door, which is surrounded by kids in black clothing who look like prostitutes from the 80’s. You notice that some of them look like they’re sulking. Upon entering, you notice that the place seems somewhat . . . sparsely populated. You still want to see that band, but the place has a vaguely forlorn vibe, now that the night’s turned out to be a bit of a bust. And the people at the front table are suddenly trying to charge ten dollars.

You are learning an important lesson: Hype can be very misleading in New York. Going out in general can be quite hit-or-miss. Sometimes something great happens and just the right amount of people show up. Most of the time, if something’s good it is either swarmed or inexplicably shunned. This is why New Yorkers tend not to go out in large groups. You need to preserve your mobility, cuz anything can happen. There are a couple venues that are really reliable right now for a good time, but I’m not going to say what they are. Ask one of your friends from the section below.

Everyone will talk to you

If you come from a middle-sized city, it’s probably a more traditionally snobby city than New York. That’s not to say that New York doesn’t have a tradition of snobbery. It’s just that the rampant network-y, capitalist spirit that animates New York leads to a situation where almost anyone will talk to you, regardless of social capital or class. People want to know who you are, whom you might be connected to, and what that means for them.

For this reason, ordinary people seem to be allowed into rich-people parties. You don’t even know where those happen back home! This is because traditional snobs in normal-sized cities know for sure who’s important and who’s not, and when confronted with unimportant people are much more likely to simply not respond when addressed, or, my favorite, allow their eyes to glaze and pass over the outline of your silhouette. You don’t exist.

In New York, everyone exists and doesn’t exist at the same time.

People don’t give a shit about history, politics, current events, etc.

I mean they really don’t give a shit. They give so little of a shit about those things that sometimes they actually enjoy discussing them due to the novelty factor. Somehow that’s even more irritating than apathy. Get used to it though, because no one in this city has time to worry about the big picture – they’re trying to survive, dammit! You’re not going to change this place, so get on with your hustling and just pretend you live in a dictatorship.

This brings us to our next thing:

There is no counter-culture

First of all, no one is rebelling against anything. I guess it would be hard to know where to begin, since everything here is totally fucked. But what this means is that that no one pretends that art, literature and music have any function other than commerce. You will find that almost anything creative that happens in New York is instantly re-contextualized as a product and marketed through social media. After all, how are people supposed to survive these crazy rents if they don’t at least try to monetize everything around them? You will meet more people than ever before using the term “personal brand” without a trace of irony. In your old city people played this game, but they would never acknowledge it so openly.

Like most new experiences in this city, you will actually come to find it quite refreshing.

image – AngMoKio


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  • Jess

    What? This is stupid and not even true.

    • Casey Jones

      Yeah but that boarding school piece this dude wrote was so good i think he gets to skate for a while.

  • Jade Mitchell

    It would seem like people would be snobbier – every New Yorker I’ve ever met has always been rude.

    • Michael Koh

      not all New Yorkers are snobby? And by that logic — all Albanians I know are thieves because every Albanian I’ve met has always stolen something from my house.

      • Sippycup

         Not all Albanians are thieves some of them are just thugs.

      • Jade Mitchell

        Well, if I met 100 Albanians that have stole something from my house, I’m somewhat inclined to believe that they’re all thieves. 

        Just saying. 

  • Kate

    “People don’t give a shit about history, politics, current events, etc.”  Oh, honey. What?

  • beans

    do you live in new york city?

    • Meg

      I think the point is that it’s for outsiders… 

  • Guest

    blah blah blah
    this is bullshit, especially the last two
    get out of brooklyn/the community of recent grads and you’ll realize that

  • Rice Paper Plant

    Hey there, Kitty Cat. Have you ever left Times Square? I mean, literally, none of this is accurate.

  • SippyCup


  • Born in NY

    I think going out anywhere can be hit-or-miss… or am I mistaken?  Does living in a small town or the suburbs guarantee a good night out with friends? 

  • NYC

    While I really like your writing style, I find this to be an incredibly inaccurate description of New York. What are you…talking about there is no counter-culture? Where do you think counter-culture was even created in the first place?

    • STaugustine

      ” Where do you think counter-culture was even created in the first place?”

      Erm… Bloomsbury? Montparnasse?  Weimar Berlin?  Robert Graves and Laura Riding on Mallorca?

  • Meghan Blalock

    Some of this is true. I’ll stand up and say I know exactly what you’re talking about re: “In New York, everyone exists and doesn’t exist at the same time.”

    I wrote on TCat about being a poor person at a rich person party and people got pissed… but what’s magical about NYC (I don’t think it’s a bad thing at all) is that everyone treats everyone as if they are someone potentially important/valuable/worthy of talking to. Everyone has this mysterious power to change your life, and you theirs – even if it’s ultimately their own ambitions leading them to treat you with respect, who cares? It’s always preferable to the glazed-over eye look of which you speak. You just never know “who” you’re talking to in NYC when you go out and meet new people. And I think that’s beautiful.

    I get what you’re saying.

  • onlyL

    What New York are you living in? I wanted to like this, I did. Born, raised, living in Brooklyn and working in mid-town, I really wanted to love this. But you are so off, your world is flat. 

  • I get it...?

    This article was supposed to be a “controversial” and “inflammatory” conversation piece…right? It reads like the journalistic equivalent to sticking your tongue out at someone.

  • Meg

    Even if it’s not accurate for everyone’s experience in New York- from locals to newbies, it’s clever and witty and touches upon some kind of experience for everyone (or so I would think). 

    I’m a newbie from Paris and I think this is f-ing hilarious, personally. Accurate in some ways for my personal experiences, and other from friend’s stories, and some from imaginary stereotypes. A good read in general.

  • batista

    I just don’t understand how anyone could make sure massive generalizations about the biggest city in the country,

  • mmm

    IDK, the first thing I thought about was this TC article:  

  • Kyle Wagner

    “I bet this asshole isn’t even blind” becoming your first reaction to anyone with dark glasses and a cane. 

  • Everybody

    If you can relate to even one or two of the points this article is worthwhile, because everyone’s experience is going to be different.  I just arrived here and found some of these points very accurate.  The piece is a little superficial but isn’t that the experience of a newcomer?  Experiences of a new culture are almost certainly going to be taken more at face value, and will be more generalized and less integrated, than the lifers.

  • Caroline

    Everyone’s a critic. 

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