Bursting the Plano bubble

The “Plano bubble” – we’ve all heard the term used to describe the mindset of many students and adults in our city who do not seem to recognize the larger issues outside of our suburban, affluent community. We like to think that, somehow, we’re above the negative influences that surround us, that we’re on a moral high ground because we can see outside of suburbia somewhat. It’s hard to admit that no matter what personal struggles we’ve been through, living in Plano does give us a distorted view of the world, whether we want it to or not.

For the most part, issues like the debate over undocumented immigration or the divide between political parties do not touch our community. While the recent economic crisis altered the lifestyles of many people in our city, we are still surrounded by wealth and affluence. I was raised by a single mother, who for a time balanced three jobs and going to college to put food on the table. Yet I’ve never truly felt deprived of anything in my life. This is an experience unique to Plano in that even the least well-off in my community have a vastly better quality of life than people elsewhere in our state or country. I recognize that individually many families have struggled or are currently struggling financially, but the majority of people in our city are very much secure in their financial situation.

In light of the Twitter frenzy following the Plano-Plano West football matchup back in Nov., this “bubble” of sorts prevents many of us from focusing on the issues that really matter. Following Plano’s victory over West, tensions between the two schools rose to an all-time high as West students proclaimed Plano students “ghetto” and “jealous” of their nice cars and secure financial situations. Plano students are just as guilty of committing similar crimes, often saying these things about Plano East following the conclusion of sports matchups.

The thing that often gets lost in all of this turmoil is that almost everyone in Plano has opportunities that kids in other communities can only dream of. Most of our parents encourage us to pursue our education and have the resources to help us go to college. We can go to school without the constant fear of violence. In 2011, Forbes Magazine ranked us the safest city in America, mostly due to our remarkably low murder rate citywide. Despite incidents of violence at Vines High School in past years, our community still remains one of the safest in the nation. The different preconceptions people from different parts of the city have about class or race don’t really matter in the long run – we need to stop talking about what divides us and start focusing on what unites us.

It’s hard to motivate people to give back to their community without sounding preachy. A real solution to this issue is changing our mindset by encouraging empathy and understanding between people through volunteering and community service. You can take one look at the ignorance within our community and see how necessary it is for all of us to understand the world outside of Plano. As our parents and teachers keep reminding us, we’re only a few semesters away from college, where our worlds will expand unimaginably. We need to be ready. We need to be aware. It’s time for the bubble to burst.