Here is your Worst Essay Of The Day. The herp derp really picks up around paragraphs 7-8, but it’s kind of juicy in that “LOL WHITE PEOPLE” kind of way even before that.
I think you’ll get the same impression if you just read it. But to talk a little bit more about the ideas in the essay and the form of the essay itself…
For one thing, I’m not saying that Richard Florida was right about everything just because I’m saying this essay is extremely faulty. Richard Florida had a theory that seemed to make some sense (with loosely-correlated data to back it up), and then he sold it to whoever was buying it. That doesn’t mean it holds up… but that doesn’t mean that it does not hold up, either. If anything, Richard Florida is guilty of oversimplifying the problem of bad urban planning and community management. But Mr. Bures is doubly so. He comes to the conclusion that it “doesn’t really matter” where you choose to live, and that creative class indicators are misleading ones in comparison to raw economic indicators. This argument falls apart quite rapidly when you toy with situational constraints - collapsing faster than any theory Mr. Florida has floated. (and, in any case, it’s much more difficult to disprove Mr. Florida’s theories than Mr. Bures’ current attempt. There won’t be a controlled experiment on this anytime soon.)
But even worse, Mr. Bures’ counterargument is built on a foundation of vast egocentricity. “We didn’t make friends in Madison, so Richard Florida was wrong.” This is not just illogical and non-scientific, but also totally oblivious when it comes to community building and social bonding. Perhaps what’s telling about Mr. Bures’ extended, pathetic personal anecdote is the exhaustive list of insanely obvious ideas/activities that he doesn’t attempt.
It might be fair to argue that, in his personal experience, he found few people willing to reciprocate on social effort… but does that negate the existence of culture, necessarily? In my personal experience, I’ve found places that were creative culture magnets (relative to the barren suburban wasteland surrounding) and had plenty of culture… the culture was incredibly shitty by my standards, but it was there! It was functional! It’s lame existence did me no favors, but it still sort-of correlated with what Richard Florida was talking about, since it was economically vibrant. So, maybe I didn’t fit in. Richard Florida said nothing about culture fit, as far as I know. Sometimes you can’t be the Cowboys fan in the Redskins town. And Mr. Bures and his wife, for all we know, could be a couple of drips. He certainly sounds like it based on the ideas he has and the company he keeps!
Speaking of which: “Penelope Trunk, a branding expert, a Gen Y prognosticator, and a ruthless, relentless self-promoter.” Three paragraphs later, she’s coughing up her own egocentric idea about how places correlate with happiness, a matter in which we know she is personally involved, and we’re supposed to accept it as axiomatic. This is just terrible writing. “She’s obnoxious… but she might have a point!” I was instead convinced that she could NEVER have a useful theory on this matter.
And ultimately, the essay concludes that we should take Richard Florida’s advice, it’s just that we shouldn’t move if we are unhappy. Except that’s what the author did anyway, to a positive result. Twice! Even the author’s own results - one bad relocation out of three - indicate that there is a general correlation between cultural vibrancy and social happiness. The author never really strays on the “creative class” factor spectrum… he just gets different results from being in different cultures. And yet he claims victory over Richard Florida’s theories anyway. Christ almighty. Was this even edited? I’ve sleep-typed rants in a drunken stupor that made more sense than this.
So, to conclude: the author comes across loathsomely as a self-involved yuppie, presents arguments about socioeconomic theories that are based entirely on his interactions with random strangers, his supporting theorists are all people more loathsome than he is, the arguments in the (completely unreadable) heart of the essay are an affront to statistical science, ultimately the author presents information that further weakens his argument, and then he essentially wraps up with “I win.” Wow. Cue the principal’s speech from “Billy Madison”, and we’re done here.