I Can't Stop Thinking About This Woman's Video Talking About How All Our Basic Human Needs Have Been Paywalled In Modern American Life

As a millennial who writes about work and money, I often think about how my generation relates to the old idea of the "American Dream."

As kids, we were told to work hard and go to college so that we'd be able to afford the house with the white picket fence and 2.5 kids. Unfortunately, the student debt crisis and ever-rising housing costs have made it increasingly difficult to make this dream a reality.

Recently, I came across a video by a 38-year-old mom of two based in Nevada that perfectly voiced something that I (and many other Americans) have been struggling with.

Amber Cimiotti (@ciaoamberc) starts by saying, "As Americans, we've removed everything we actually need in daily life like exercise, talking to friends, connecting with people, spending time with our kids. We've taken all of the naturally occurring things out of life and made it so that those things can only be achieved by a therapy session, by an activity that we have to pay for."

Amber talking in her TikTok video

As one commenter replied, "America is a business."

@ciaoamberc / Via tiktok.com

According to Amber, a big part of the problem is just the way that many American suburbs are designed. She says, "There's not many places, neighborhoods, and cities where it's super easy to walk everywhere, where you can get a lot of natural exercise, whether it's walking to and from your house or to the grocery stores. This just doesn't exist for most people now, so you have to wake up earlier on your lunch break or after work; you have to go to the gym so you can get in your exercise."

Aerial view of a suburban neighborhood with uniform houses

Amber continues, explaining that, in her opinion, isolation and the lack of real conversations in daily life are pushing more and more people to turn to therapy who might not need it so much if they could just get their social needs met. She says, "Nowadays everybody needs a therapist. Yes, therapy is needed for some things, but most people just need to be talking to people way more, and I don't mean like trolling on the internet."

As one commenter noted, "Capitalism takes away essential things then creates a service for u to pay for those things 😭😭."

Amber also discusses how parents are impacted by the paywall on basic human needs in American life. "There used to be kids running around neighborhoods all the time. Parents didn't have to pay all this extra money to do activities so their kids can be involved in things; parents didn't have to drive all over the place... But now that doesn't exist. So we do need to pay for activities."

Coach and young soccer players walking on the field, interacting post-game

And she also expressed frustration with the American food system. "Eating healthy food in America is a part-time job, if not a full-time job... It would all be so much easier if we just had healthy food."

Alistair Berg / Getty Images

She sums it all up by saying, "When things don't happen naturally in your day, and you need to take extra energy to achieve basic things like healthy food exercise, talking to friends, which helps regulate emotions and things like that; when you have to build those into therapy sessions, exercise sessions, hobbies, reading 17 books — of course you'll be tired."

I personally can't stop thinking about what Amber has to say, and many other commenters chimed in to agree.

Comments saying we've traded our humanity for convenience and profit. This is why living on campus in uni was so amazing. This is literally my Roman Empire
@ciaoamberc / Via tiktok.com

Amber told BuzzFeed that marrying an Italian man made her start to see certain "normal" parts of American life in a new way. "I spend a lot of time in Italy, and I just see a lot of differences and so much feels so natural and good. They're things like the community kind of just being together, how they still value family and relaxed time and enjoyment."

"It's all inspired from just seeing how another culture does it and how I feel so good when I'm there. And I think you could say, it's a vacation, and yeah, sure there's an aspect of that. But I also vacation in the United States, and I never feel that way... I think they include a lot of humanity into their life, and there's not a charge for it."

She also talked about how our current health and wellness culture on social media also contributes to wearing us all out with impossible expectations. "I am in the health world of content creation, and I talk a lot about living a healthy lifestyle. But I see these people promoting all this good stuff, but it's like, I gotta wake up at 3 a.m. to accomplish all this stuff."

Woman wearing a sheet mask while using a laptop at home

"It just goes on and on. And of course, people are tired. You know what, even if those things are good, you're not meant to live so fragmented."

Elena Noviello / Getty Images

And as a mom, she's really concerned about how the modern American lifestyle is impacting kids, but at the same time, she says it's hard not to get sucked into more and more activities. "I think that is a huge drawback for kids. I think kids are not meant to be scheduled this way."

Empty tire swings hanging in a playground

Finally, Amber hopes that her video can help people talk more about how much harder it's gotten to get our human needs met in America. And hopefully, having these conversations can help lead to a change. "I feel like for people our age, we went from a much more normal society to all of a sudden, I find myself like, 'How did we get here?' It happened before I even paid attention to it."

"It seemed little by little normal until now, all of a sudden, I'm buying something all the time."