By Eric DuVall
The Tonawanda News
Tonawanda News — I’m tired of defending Western New York. There, I said it.
It’s exhausting, really. Every time some website somewhere wants to get a little bump in Internet traffic all they have to do is say something nasty about Buffalo and everyone around here goes into a self-righteous tizzy.
We sit there watching the news, staring the Channel 2 ticker warning us there’s going to be a story about “Buffalo insulted” or some such thing, waiting for Scott and MaryAlice to inform us of the most recent egregious slight to our hometown.
It seems like we’re almost gleeful that we can all get into a defensive lather on Facebook, Twitter and at the work water cooler, or wherever people actually gather these days when they’re not on Facebook or Twitter. Post the link with a status update: “Who the $!%*#!% does this guy think he is!?!” You and everybody else did.
Not me. I’m done.
Such was the case last week when some loser hockey writer from the Toronto Sun decided he’d taken one too many drives down the QEW from his big, worldly wonderland of a city to our little dump. He unloaded on Buffalo not because our sports teams suck (let’s face it, they do) but because he just doesn’t like Buffalo as a place that exists in the world.
Or at least so I infer from the social media barrage that followed his petty little rant. I honestly didn’t read the column. Don’t need to. I could write it myself if I wanted to.
I wish we didn’t have to fall into this trap every time someone says something derogatory about our little corner of the world.
Why are we all so darn sensitive?
The punch lines are obvious. Rust belt city gone bust. Young people can’t wait to leave. Nobody has a job. The buildings — what of them are still standing — are empty. Downtown Buffalo is a ghost town after 5 p.m. There’s nothing to do. It snows here. And how ‘bout that local sports team, huh? They sure stink! AmIRight!? Ha! Zing!
Listen to these people and you’d have to wonder: Why would anyone want to live in Buffalo?
That’s what the people who don’t live in Buffalo have to say. And of course they’re wrong.
They’re also incredibly ignorant.
Criticism like this smacks of a lack of intellectual curiosity. And it usually comes from the kind of people who like to eat at Olive Garden — when they’re on vacation.
If Tom Brady had ever bothered to try seeing something other than the four walls of his shabby hotel room (the Patriots stay at the Avante, which is actually really nice, by the way) he would find a vibrant community with a truly astounding amount of things to do. I’ve lived here my entire life and I feel like I’ve only scratched the surface of what Western New York has to offer.
Seriously, I keep a Buffalo Bucket List on my phone of cool things friends and strangers alike mention they’ve done that I’d like to do some day. It’s a long list — and because life is how life is, I’ll probably keep adding to it at a faster pace than I can check it off.
As the president noted in his recent visit, “Buffalo’s on the move.” He wasn’t just being nice. It is. Literally.
Young people whose parents a generation ago fled the city proper for the suburbs now want back in. Where once it was odd to find a 20- or 30-something living in the city, now it’s odd to find them living anywhere else.
And for families that don’t want to deal with the hustle and bustle — or who express the very legitimate concerns about Buffalo public schools — there are options like right here in the Twin Cities. There are quality homes at a bargain price, decent schools, low crime and a quaint but vibrant downtown business district where you can get your cake from a bakery, your furniture from an antique store, a tool from a hardware store and on and on — actual locally owned businesses that have character and more often than not are owned by one, too.
So let’s all do ourselves a favor. We agree, whether it’s Buffalo, Amherst, the Tonawandas, the Southtowns — if you’re a Western New Yorker you know this really is a great place to live.
Let’s start acting like it.
The next time someone suggets otherwise, please, just ignore them and go about your day. I promise, at the end of it you’re going to be happier living here and loving it than some jerk sitting in an office on the 92nd floor of a high rise in Capital City trying to think up cynical ways to put down a lifestyle they’ll never understand.
We don’t need to defend our community. Our quality of life speaks for itself. If someone doesn’t like it, I say fine. One less sourpuss to ruin it for the rest of us.
Eric DuVall is the managing editor of the Tonawanda News. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter, @EricRDuVall.