Why big cities are so resilient

When London (or any other big city) suffers a terrorist attack there is an initial shock which lasts a few hours or maybe a day but pretty soon you will notice that people go on with their lives and tweet pictures of themselves going out to dinner or drinks and hash tagging it with #Londonisstrong #wewillnotbeintimidated or something to that effect. And with that, London moves on. How it is so easy to move on when something so terrible has happened?

It is possible because London, like many big cities is really a mass of unconnected people with very little community. We know this because if a close family suffers a terrible event like an untimely death, the surviving members of the family don’t go out drinking the next night. This is because they have a close relationship with the person who passed away and are deeply affected. Their reaction is not business as usual but rather, they stop and take time to recover. There is usually also a period of mourning. There is definitely no drinking or partying during this time.

It is the same with a small tight-knit village. Everything stops for a while because this is what happens when people you know well are injured or killed, even when they are not your direct family.

As you get greater populations, the impact on the individual is smaller until, when you get to huge cities, like London, it is like nothing even happened. Because most Londoners have no connection with the victims it is possible to go out and drink the night right after a terrorist attack. Weirdly, while many bemoan the lack of community in big cities, this can be one of its greatest strengths. You can’t attack one part of it and think this will somehow incapacitate it. In truth, it has almost no effect.

While the hashtags of defiance are an indication of strength and resilience they also indicate a lack of community and care.

That is not to say that London or other huge cities cannot come together in a crisis. They can but it takes something much bigger, things like the Blitz or 9/11. In contrast, a small attack on only a few people means almost nothing. You know this because even the night of the attack, the pubs and clubs of London were heaving.

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