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.