The people who sneak into your home

Modern technology means we’re letting a lot of people into our homes, into intimate spaces where they can talk to us without interruption and we can’t question them or answer back.

If you give a poem, one person to another, on a card, in an email, it becomes personal. It hardly matters what the poem says it will seem like there must be some kind of personal message in it. At the same time you can put a more personal poem in a public space and unless you’ve made some unmistakable references, most readers will not assume it’s about them. People don’t tend to take it personally if you give them poetry collections, also, unless perhaps it’s all handwritten and manifestly about them.

Poetry itself is a delivery method which suggests the personal – something I’ve blogged about before.

It’s worth thinking about the things that we allow into our homes to speak to us personally and directly. Who gets to stand in your living room (on a screen) of an evening and tell you how it all works? Who is on your phone, in your hands, talking directly to you? Do you feel like their message is for you? One of the things many broadcasters seem to do on radio (I don’t watch TV, I can only speculate) is create a sense of intimacy, it’s just you and them in a small, dark cupboard (maybe that’s just me!). Having dabbled in making youtube videos myself, I know how to do it, how you talk to the camera as though it was a good friend. It’s also how I write the blog, aiming for a specific kind of tone, a feeling of closeness and complicity…

Now, if a person presses a handwritten poem into your hand, that’s a rare event and it stands out. The people who come to whisper to us in our own homes are there more days than not, and familiarity can have us paying less attention. It’s worth paying attention to how these curious guests make you feel, and if they make you feel uncomfortable, turfing them out and not inviting them back is always an option. I don’t have a television because there are too many people I don’t want to invite round of an evening.

Every book imagines its reader. Every speech imagines its audience. In part because it is hard to communicate well without imagining you are talking to someone. It helps to know your audience and to pitch the language accordingly. But at the same time, anyone who has studied writing, or speech making or any other kind of presentation soon learns things about how to make the recipient complicit. How to make them feel involved, and like this is very much for them and about them. This blog, it’s just between you and me, dear reader. When you read it, you read it alone, and sometimes I strike a chord and you may feel I wrote it just for you, and maybe… I did.

Like any tool set, these skills can be used well or badly. Communicating in a way that develops insight and understanding has to be a good thing, but I don’t think that’s what mostly happens at the moment. If the glimpses I get of mainstream media are indicative, then the intimacy of the voices we let into our homes is not doing us much good, collectively. It’s discouraging empathy, feeding feelings of powerlessness, making us wary of each other, and inclined to blame each other and not looking for who or what is moving on the other side of the curtain. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain…

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About Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, wife to the most amazing artist -Tom Brown. Drinker of coffee, maker of puddings. Exploring life as a Pagan, seeking good and meaningful ways to be, struggling with mental health issues and worried about many things. View all posts by Nimue Brown

9 responses to “The people who sneak into your home

  • lornasmithers

    Likewise no telly for me. No radio either although I’ll occasionally listen to a show through my laptop. I’d never have a telly or radio waffling in the background and never ever as the centre of attention in a room.

    The reason I prefer WordPress to Facebook and Twitter is that it feels like a visit to a friend’s virtual space to catch up on and discuss their week’s work rather than a crazy free-for-all with far too many voices to focus on any of them.

    I certainly like to be in control of who I let in!

    • Nimue Brown

      I think of facebook as being a bit like a living room in terms of what i tolerate, Twitter is more like standing on a street corner yelling at random passers by, which is something I’ve started thinking i could take up…. But yes, definitely who we let in via social media is also an issue to consider carefully.

  • Aurora J Stone

    Very perceptive comments, Nimue. We do have telly, but it’s in our second reception room, and I’ve blogged about the quilt my grandma Bessie made that covers it when it’s not being watched. I agree with comments about Twitter and wouldn’t touch FB with a barge pole. It is indeed well worth remembering who, how and what we invite to share our personal with and when.

  • Christopher Blackwell

    I have neither a television, nor a radio, and have not owned either for a great many years, most of my life. I spent most of my spare time reading books. Often a book a day. I am much slower now. I have just started to continue reading of a book I put down more than six months ago, before my cataract operation, much surprised that I can read again at all. But now, it is a few pages a night.

  • Rick

    This reminds me of something that G.K. Chesterton once wrote about telemarketers being modern-day “housebreakers.” Interesting that this was a problem even back in his time.

  • Selene

    Nimue, I’ve shared this as the featured blog post for June on the OBOD website at http://www.druidry.org/druid-way/resources/druid-blogs/blog-month. Thanks for another thoughtful offering!

  • Jen - Liminal Luminous

    We do have a TV< although if it were up to me we wouldn't, I certainly didn't before I moved in with my now husband.

    I;m really careful about what I do watch, or even stay in the room for, because I am so sensitivity. Game of Thrones is a case in point. I should love it – swords! Dragons! But the violence, especially against women, and the threat of violence is too much for me to cope with. So I don't watch it.

    I question why I am watching everything, and I don't access social media at the weekend as I feel it is stressing me out too much. I've gone right off of twitter, although I do feel like I SHOULD BE doing it more.

    So difficult to get the balance right, but I really am starting to withdraw more from the world and will happily turn off the programme, stop reading the book or following a person these days. Of course, I then worry that I am creating my own filter bubble, but I am so sensitive to stress of all types that I am willing to live with this and just be aware of it!

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