Let me stipulate at the outset, I love many things about Santa Barbara, but I could do without many of its residents. Before I’m run out of town for suggesting what many are too intimidated to say, let me first state unequivocally that Santa Barbara is a great place to live. It’s been my home for 33 years, and for most of that time there hasn’t been another place I would have wanted to live.
As much as I love this city, it pains to me to say that I increasingly feel alienated by the overabundance of meddling busybodies who think they know what’s best for all their neighbors and are never afraid to stick their noses into everyone’s business, even when they have no idea what they’re talking about. It really sticks in my craw to have tone deaf, insufferable, and sanctimonious know-it-alls lecture me about my white privilege or moral indifference.
To be perfectly clear, it doesn’t bother me that a majority of the citizens of our fair city don’t share my political views, inasmuch as I don’t expect, nor do I want, conformity of thought. What does bother me is the blatant hypocrisy and constant lecturing from people who routinely don’t observe their own rules.
Every day I am forced to tolerate abject virtue signaling by having to behold the signs in front of million-dollar houses in lily-white neighborhoods, professing the homeowners’ affinity for black people and all other victimized people on the intersectionality totem pole. If I had a nickel for every time these homeowners had a meaningful social encounter with an African American in the last decade, I would probably be broke by now. These are the folks who send their kids to mostly segregated schools and would have a nervous breakdown if someone proposed a low-income project to be situated in their insulated neighborhoods.
Maybe most annoying is what I have witnessed in the last year during the pandemic. Until I quit the neighborhood social media website, I was astounded by how many of our residents have imprisoned themselves in their homes, shunning all interaction with the outside world. I don’t begrudge anyone for doing what makes them feel safe, however, I am not amused when they declaim others as selfish or morally deficient for refusing to embrace their highly eccentric lifestyle.
To control my blood pressure, I was forced to get off social media after watching my neighbors snitch on small struggling businesses for niggling technical violations of pandemic rules. Their lack of empathy for the people who serve and feed them was unfathomable. It must be nice not having to worry where the next check is coming from so you can pontificate about the moral failures of less virtuous people in our midst. Where is the compassion for high school students who have had their lives ruined because of closed schools or the people who lost their jobs because a state and a community let their fears run amok?
Of course, I don’t want to overgeneralize. There are many wonderful people still living in Santa Barbara. Many are open-minded and nonjudgmental. I also encounter many fine people every time I shop in our supermarkets and other retail establishments. They are our essential workers, who go to work every day because they don’t have other options. They can’t sit in their fancy homes, posting derogatory comments about their neighbors on social media sites whenever the impulse strikes their fancy. They are unfailingly polite and cheerful, no matter that quite a few of the people they are serving have zero empathy for their lives.
One of the things I love to do is taking hikes on the beautiful beaches by UCSB. Despite the suffocating political correctness on college campuses today, I am happy to report the students are not allowing the grown-ups to take the fun out of college life. Yes, it may be irresponsible that they are breaking all the rules, but it’s nice to see they will resist overbearing adults who think they know what’s best for them.
Not too long ago someone said to me that I might feel more comfortable living in Alabama. Obviously, it was said condescendingly and meant as an insult to people living in less woke states. Surprisingly, I agreed with this person and wasn’t offended at all. They probably could have included Texas, Florida, and 15 other states. But, alas, I am probably not going anywhere. Santa Barbara is my home, and, like a family member who annoys me, I don’t discard family or the place where I have lived for most of my life, even though it can be maddening most of the time.