What Is Imaginary City
On the other hand, we describe cities according to what we have experienced inside them, including the restaurants we dined, shopping malls we entered and the transportations we took. However, Healy has noted that our lived cultural experiences are influenced by our cultural imaginaries also. Healy 56) It means we are living in the cities in the way we have imagined should be. For instance, Hong Kong people seldom ride a bicycle to work though they can. It is because in a metropolis like Hong Kong, a primitive transport like bicycle are not “modern” and “smart” enough; private cars and mass transport are more preferred in this sense. This further affects how we build the city.
If we intended to build a city which is clean and disciplined (which you think a modern city should be), we would have made laws of prohibiting smoking in public area and heavy penalties for crimes.
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Hence, we can say that people define city mostly according to what they imagined about it, as they experienced urban culture as what they planned to experience. The cultural imaginary built in people’s mind, as well as in the environment and the way they use the city. One of the cultural imaginary is the instantaneous and ubiquitous circulation of information in cities. We believe that people in a modern city, regardless of their social status, educational background and etc. can be and should be connected to the city or the society with the help of some highly accessible media.Thus, “no man is an island” in an ideal city.
In order to realize our imaginary, we act according to it and constructed what we want to experience eventually. The renowned city of Asia – Hong Kong would be a good example here. In a heavily mediatized metropolis like Hong Kong, the above characteristic is well observed and carried out. General public there can access to whatever information they interested no matter who, when and where they are. There are various types of media they can choose and are free of charge.For examples, free newspapers distributed nearly every morning, like Metro and Sharp Daily; and news reports announced once an hour via radio. These can acknowledge citizens about the hottest issues of the city with limited lag time.
Moreover, hi-tech gadgets such as smart phones and tablets are now commonplace in Hong Kong. It is normal to find passengers playing their iphone or Galaxy SII on the railway. These products allow their users to surf the net, which means, to read, listen or even watch any kind of information they concern, wherever and whenever they want.Further, to facilitate our urban experience of “highly accessible information”, people keep going for the latest model of smart phones. For that reason it is not surprising to see a long queue waiting outside the stores every time when a new model is out. Rather, the highly accessible circulation of information also raises the concern of its potential to invade the privacy of citizens since it can serve as modern forms of surveillance. With the help of the hi-tech gadgets, every citizen can become an inspector of the city.
In 2006, a video named “Bus Uncle” was rife in the city (Hong Kong).It was all about a meaningless quarrel between two ordinary men, and taken by an ordinary man with his cell phone only. Yet this received a great response from the society, and started a trend of recording “interesting” video with digital devices wherever you are. Since then, everyday life of a person, even not a celebrity, has been under the surveillance of other people in the city. If you commit a crime or behave improperly, people around you are likely to record everything down and soon upload it to websites like Facebook or Youtube. By then, the whole society will know your story.In the past, only enforcing agencies may keep an eye on you, but now, the whole city will.
This is a serious offend to people’s privacy as our life as an ordinary person is exploited by others’ curiosity. This is another cultural imaginary of cities – we expect to be watching over by various methods there. When we act according to this, it becomes an excuse for us to watch over others as we expect the other to share the same expectation also. That is , you know people are watching, aren’t you? Thus, this imaginary may worsen the problem by boosting everyone to do the same thing.