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Clean Rooms and Good Character

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Jul 15, 2018
Categories: Health, Society
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Clean Rooms and Good Character

In this recent piece in the New York Times, an author makes the case for leaving some rooms messy. (https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/11/magazine/letter-of-recommendation-mess.html?smtyp=cur&smid=tw-nytmag). As the distinction between private and public collapses with rise of smartphones, social media, livestreaming, personal branding and influencers, we lose something important in having a private space that is not "for anyone" but ourselves. We lose our homes to the invasive eye of the smartphone's camera as everyone we have "connected with" is allowed a passenger-seat drive through our personal lives. The constant stream of updates means we have to constantly update our surroundings, preparing them for visitors at all times and working to keep everything on-trend so that people still want to tune in. What I love about this article is that the author points out that this collapse of the public into the private life coincides with a strong pressure for women's lives and selves to be aesthetically pleasing, perfect, calm, cool, and collected at all times... (or else). Here's one of my favorite parts: "Every time I observe a woman gliding agreeably through life like a stewardess on an endless flight, modestly dressed and smiling ruefully to deflect any presumption that her existence is anything other than morally and aesthetically impeccable,

I’m reminded of the enormous pressure placed on those of us who aren’t men to construct an identity that falls within the limits of acceptable behavior. And I’m reminded of how readily these stifling restrictions permeate the physical spaces we create for ourselves. So when I see the uniformly immaculate and insidiously similar rooms serving as platforms for the digital lives around me, I see the trickle-down effect of a world that coaches girls always to accommodate and impress. I see obsessively smooth, stain-free bedspreads, pert little bean bag chairs, fussy accent rugs, blandly mollifying posters, bookshelves arranged by color, bathroom selfies in which all evidence of acne and periods and military-caliber deodorant has been stashed meticulously away. I see trendily minimalist, unflaggingly photogenic nonplaces that feel like just another facet of the self-marketing that’s expected of us in every other sphere" NOT that we all just shouldn't clean, basic hygiene is good. But I like how the author ends with asking if it would be possible for us to leave the dishes for a night and not feel guilty. Do you think that underneath these perfect social media photos there is a drive to perfection that is similar to the belief system that equated external perfection with inner character and made judgements based on that? I found this article super interesting! 

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