Alone together

„This is why today deodorants and soaps are crucial - they make neighbors at least minimally tolerable: I am ready to love my neighbors... provided they don't smell too bad.“ Slavoj Zizek.

We can’t live without masses, our way of life can only exist because we are millions of users of a transport system, of affordable disposable underwear, or of a theater program with 45 monthly plays, or of a public library as big as ten football fields, or of the technological miracle of having strawberries the whole year at the supermarket. Without those hundreds of thousand of users/consumers it would be impossible to afford a good service and rights for everyone. Civilization, as we know it, depends dramatically on huge crowds sharing our finite space: the city.

To keep them in peace with each other, it’s necessary to educate them in democratic values of respect and tolerance. That’s why walls and laws were created, to offer individuals a private space to be on their own under their own rules. As they say: „good fences make good neighbors“. If we could smell what our neighbors eat or hear the music they listen to or knew what they do with their free time, we would end up killing each other.

Despite of this confinement we need to develop new ways of using our environment in the most respectful and tolerant way. How can we walk down the street, take a train, go shopping, be near to another individual without encroaching their private space? Keeping out of each other’s way, avoiding eye-contact, using deodorant… the methods may vary depending cultures, and the more advanced they are the more singular they get: wearing sunglasses, headphones, earplugs, scarfs, make-up, masks, plastic surgery... So we can coexist and live in peace and go alone to the mall together.

A new way of interacting with the World is the Internet, which offers new levels of privacy protection. Now we can do online all those activities we did offline (working, shopping, meeting people) without leaving our side of the fence, without meeting anybody, so nobody’s privacy gets hurt. No traffic jams, no bad smells, no wrong side of town. We don’t have to live in a city anymore to enjoy its commodities so we can finally live in the nature and work in the office, and eat as organic as if we lived in the biggest city. All items will be delivered within a couple of hours. We’ll do everything online: online working, online shopping, online dating, so we won’t have to leave our home anymore, till our neighbors call the police because of the smell from our decomposing body.

(2017)