Reappopriation of the personal sphere

Here are three quotes from Stefana Broadbent’s excellent TED Talk:

there are new, hidden tensions that are actually happening between people and institutions — institutions that are the institutions that people inhabit in their daily life: schools, hospitals, workplaces, factories, offices, etc. And something that I see happening is something that I would like to call a sort of "democratization of intimacy."

And what do I mean by that? I mean that what people are doing is, in fact, they are sort of, with their communication channels, they are breaking an imposed isolation that these institutions are imposing on them.


And this has become such a cultural norm that we actually school our children for them to be capable to do this cleavage.

If you think nursery, kindergarten, first years of school are just dedicated to take away the children, to make them used to staying long hours away from their family. And then the school enacts perfectly well, mimics perfectly all the rituals that we will start in offices, rituals of entry, rituals of exit, the schedules, the uniforms in this country, things that identify you, team-building activities, team building that will allow you to basically be with a random group of kids, or a random group of people that you will have to be with for a number of time. And of course, the major thing: learn to pay attention, to concentrate and focus your attention.

This only started about 150 years ago. It only started with the birth of modern bureaucracy, and of industrial revolution.


every day, every single day, I read news that makes me cringe, like a 15-dollar fine to kids in Texas, for using, every time they take out their mobile phone in school. Immediate dismissal to bus drivers in New York, if seen with a mobile phone in a hand. Companies blocking access to IM or to Facebook. Behind issues of security and safety, which have always been the arguments for social control, in fact what is going on is that these institutions are trying to decide who, in fact, has a right to self determine their attention, to decide, whether they should, or not, be isolated. And they are actually trying to block, in a certain sense, this movement of a greater possibility of intimacy.

Our students – and our employees – are reappropriating their personal spheres. Good for them.

3 Responses to “Reappopriation of the personal sphere”

  1. I’m not sure where I am on this. We need a community with common standards and getting there is going to be messy, and I find myself wanting a stair step method of advancing us to a new plateau. If we rush headlong into a no-rules state we’ll have chaos, no? Here I am turning conservative, limits are good because we are children in this new life.

    Are we capable of intimacy when we don’t know what audience potentially we are being intimate with? And let’s define “intimacy” while we’re at it. A corporation may be fearful of revealing information about products, but individuals are fearful about revealing information concerning personal feelings.

  2. Interesting -Stefana Broadbent’s excellent TED Talk:makes you think. I found the notion of class systems being broken by technology interesting. The talk had interesting data on even though we have multiple contacts, FB friends, and skype addresses the average person only routinely contact 4 or less. Also her studies into what tech tool individuals use for what person is interesting. Now back to the quotes used in this blog. I do see the need for concentration and focus and even the teaching of these skills. The thought that children are forced to be with random students in school is both negative and positive. Random can give students the opportunity to know and interact with individuals that would of never been chosen. This is what learning is about. This is what life is about.

  3. Interesting, very interesting. This is something I’ll have to think on a little more. The main thought I’m having right now is that I probably wouldn’t want my bus driver talking on a phone while driving the bus. On one hand, there’s a need to prevent children from over-using their phones and not paying attention in the classroom, which is a problem. Trust me, it hasn’t been all that long since I was in high school and kids would cheat all the time, or just not pay any attention…

Leave a Reply