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Wildcat Chronicle

The student news site of West Chicago Community High School

Wildcat Chronicle

The student news site of West Chicago Community High School

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Teens do not want to stay inside – there is just way less to do

Post-pandemic, Gen Z has gained an acclimation for the indoors. But it’s not entirely their fault.
A+closed+off+entrance+to+the+defunct+Charlestowne+Mall%2C+which+suffered+the+same+fate+as+many+third+places+of+the+21st+century.
Photo by Dhanveer Gill
A closed off entrance to the defunct Charlestowne Mall, which suffered the same fate as many third places of the 21st century.

Let’s go to the mall? How about the arcade? What about the movie theater? 

Oh, wait. They all closed down.

The downfall of proper third places is one of the most boring “evolutions” of the 21st century.

For the uninitiated, a third place is any community area separate from the home (first place)  and work (second place). For many, restaurants, malls, or theaters would come to mind. However, that is exactly where the problem arises.

Just within a few miles of West Chicago alone, two malls and a movie theater have gone out of business. Prices for restaurants have gone up ever since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, making eating out way less appetizing. For the first time in modern history, it is becoming harder to spend time with peers. 

“In 2020, Coresight Research projected that 25% of the country’s approximately 1,000 malls would close shop in the following 3-5 years. In April, analysts at UBS projected that 40,000-50,000 American retail stores would shut down by 2027,” Tim Levin, writer for Business Insider, said

People have reacted to the loss of third places in different ways. Most have chosen to go online, finding community in video games or, much more commonly, social media. There is nothing theoretically wrong with a balanced use of social media, but it would not be wrong to guess that most people fail at doing so. Time is the most valuable resource humans have; the main method of socialization should not also be designed to make users addicted to it.

“That means that we needed to sort of give you a little dopamine hit every once in a while because someone liked or commented on a photo or a post or whatever … It’s a social-validation feedback loop … You’re exploiting a vulnerability in human psychology … [The inventors] understood this, consciously, and we did it anyway,” Sean Parker, first President of Facebook, said

Promotion for the TikTok Shop. (Photo by Eshan Amir)

In addition to contributing to general feelings of loneliness and anxiety, a lack of physical third places is a big reason modern life feels so commercialized. There is no separating oneself from the commodified internet: financial courses by posers on Twitter, items of questionable quality on TikTok’s shop, or cosmetics on Instagram. When apps like these are the primary way to relax and or socialize, users are always a product. 

There is also clear value in face-to-face interaction and a common place to relax. Even people who are not very social benefit from talking with a friend in a relaxed space occasionally. Studies have shown it releases oxytocin in the brain, reducing stress and blood pressure.

There is not much that regular people can do on a macroscale to “bring back” the glory days of places like malls. What can be done though, is the next time one is on a FaceTime call with their friends, consider going to a local coffee shop instead.

If there is one nearby, that is. 

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Your donation will support the student journalists of West Chicago Community High School. Your contribution will help us cover our annual website hosting costs. We appreciate your support!

About the Contributors
Eshan Amir
Eshan Amir, Senior Reporter
Eshan Amir is a senior who partakes in watching movies, filmmaking, and photography in his free time. He strives to accomplish his best at West Chicago Community High School and acknowledges that WEGO provides a great space to meet new people and prosper social skills. After school, he plans to pursue a career in film making or the law industry. He is currently drafting a screenplay, learning the basics of criminal law, and intends on taking journalism to get better at communicating and listening to people.
Dhanveer Gill
Dhanveer Gill, Managing Editor
Dhanveer Gill is a senior at WCCHS and this is his second year on the Wildcat Chronicle. Dhanveer is a dedicated Math Team member, NHS member, and senior engineer of WeGo's Robotics Team. Outside of school, he loves to be in the gym, go on long (and he means very long) bicycle rides, listen to music, and write. In the future, Dhanveer wants to pursue computer engineering and minor in journalism.
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