Who Are These People In These Stories?

Who Are These People In These Stories?

[lead dropcap="yes"]Beth Teitell is a “life in these modern times” reporter for The Boston Globe, who writes stories about the foibles and challenges of the fast-paced technological era we live in and how “ordinary” people cope1, often with a dollop of humor or irony. Some of her recent articles have focused on millennials ordering fast-food takeout instead of cooking their own meals; families texting each other within the same house or even the same room; teen boys who regularly take Ubers, usually prompted by parents too busy to drive them around; the fact that $1 million in Boston buys you a fixer-upper; the phenomenon of the “she shed” as a reaction to man caves; and so on.[/lead]

The ever-present common elements in almost every story include:

  1. The busy, harried working mom who sounds annoyed by the demands her family places on her.
  2. The guilty parent who knows their kids are way more pampered, sheltered and coddled than they ever were as a kid, but does it anyway, while simultaneously piling a work/play schedule on the children that would kill a 50-year-old with stress in the name of “getting into a good college.”
  3. The desire to be like all the other professional working women whose opinions they value above all others.
  4. Almost exclusively upper-middle class to upper incomes and hometowns in the toniest suburbs or neighborhoods of Boston
  5. The phrase “Don’t judge me, but...” followed by an excuse for a display of conspicuous excess.

The story that prompted this post was her article on parents relying on Uber to shuttle their kids to and fro instead of doing it themselves. What’s ironic is that I just remembered that three years ago today, I wrote a similar post about an article Teitell wrote about the ways that pre-Uber carpooling had taken over the lives of these well-heeled families and I see how both articles unspool in the same ways.

As I read these articles, I’m left scratching my head. Who are these people? Is this supposed to be what passes for middle class family life in the Boston area? Because none of these stories ever look like me and my family or any family I know.

If these do reflect a widespread reality, they make me tremble for what we’re doing to ourselves. The disconnection among family members, the barely concealed annoyance with family, the me-first individualism, the entitlement attitudes, the life-altering stressfulness: Is it any wonder people are feeling fractured and unrooted and dissatisfied more than ever before?

I wonder if this is a coastal or big city or Northeast phenomenon or if it’s fairly universal. But while it makes me worry about our country, at least I feel pretty good about how we’re doing as a family.

  1. And by “ordinary”, they usually mean “families who make seriously north of six figures in well-to-do suburbs and Boston neighborhoods.”

Image Credit

  • BethTeitell-BostonGlobe: Own photo
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1 comment
  • Domenico,
    The stories that Beth writes are very much about Middle class families in the tonier greater Boston area. As a parent of 3 in Brookline MA I can relate to all of Beth stories and always enjoy her writing and dare I say sarcasm at times. I believe you misunderstood the Uber article. It is not so much about parents using Uber instead of doing it themselves, it is about having an option. For example, now I do not have to leave work drive my child and return to work if an uber is utilized.
    I understand that perhaps her writing and her articles do not reflect your reality, but they do reflect the reality of many women who live in Greater Boston.
    Beth does write often about problems of the Upper Middle class, but hey the upper middle class do have problems and issues. I believe that Beth’s articles are often written “Tongue in cheek”, and the humor I hope is not lost on most of her readers. therefore she often pokes fun at the “problems”

    I do not get a sense of any of the negative views you have stated , “such as disconnection among family members, the barely concealed annoyance with family, the me-first individualism, the entitlement attitudes, the life-altering stressfulness: Is it any wonder people are feeling fractured and unrooted and dissatisfied more than ever before?” Perhaps this is what you are reading into it and may be very different from those who relate it the articles feel. On the contrary the attitudes are most often how to help and improve the family and make life easier, although there are stresses and addressing them is proper.
    Therefore I respectfully disagree with your opinion, although I totally understand that we are reading her articles from a different angle then myself.
    Respectfully Yours,
    Aliza Dash
    Brookline MA

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