“The ideal American life as fed by the media; 2-3 children, white picket fences surrounding a split-level house with a dog and a cat, and a station wagon or a minivan…” (Urban Dictionary).
A picket fence has come to represent a person’s ideal lifestyle along with the thought of being away from the stress and overall chaos of his or her real life.This particular fence is very strong and pleasant-looking much like how the average person invisions their future. The color white is linked with purity and hope while the spade, one of the most common picket fences, represents a leaf from a tree which is associated with life. White fences are most often seen in middle-class suburban areas which in turn symbolize a comfortable and stable level of living.
Most people nowadays, however, have little interest in the suburbs or putting thought into having a fence even though it is still a relatively common saying. The implications do not necessarily mean that everyone strives to live on the countryside surrounded by nature and kids; some people long for the city life. There is a “renaissance in cities, as they draw empty nesters and young professionals alike to a vibrant, urban lifestyle” (PBSNewsHour). Many adults live in apartments or condo complexes where there are no fences and are perfectly happy in metropolitan areas.
Another way the term is used is in White-Picket-Fence Syndrome in which a person is so fixated on an ideal life that he or she ignores the failings that make that dream impossible. For example: a young boy may be blindly convinced that his life is perfect despite the fact that his parents fight all the time and his sister is an underaged alcoholic.On the other hand, is can also been used to convey a longing for a person or position such as “she is my picket fence” or “that job was going to be my picket fence”, simply meaning that a certain person or thing would make another feel complete.
There is something quite fanciful about a white picket fence and perhaps it is only because we grew up romanizing early suburban life, but the peaceful connotations are still very real. The open security ensuring that there is nothing to fear, the lovely white reflecting the sun and telling us that new days do come, and the sharp spade pointing uphill and encouraging us to follow. That is something very comforting indeed.