Walls are actually pretty strange things.
Completely putting aside their structural properties it’s amazing how much we expect privacy from a walled room.
I’ve been thinking about this lately because of the places I’ve lived in for the last two (ish) years. The first was a big old convent hall that had renovated into eleven rooms and one house, and the current is a block of four flats purpose-built to look like a large townhouse with four front doors. In both those places I was separated from complete strangers by walls, but that didn’t mean they weren’t there. I could still hear their footsteps, the music from their sound systems, and the occasional argument. What I’ve been thinking about is how much privacy we think we have just because we’re hidden from sight (and in some cases earshot) by a physical partition.
If You’ve grown up as an only child, or been the only boy/girl in your family then You know the joys of having a bedroom all to yourself. Somewhere you can just go to be alone, to play with toys, to listen to music. A place you might call your IRL MySpace. As a child, and through adolesence your room is an impenetrable fortress where nobody can bother You and You can do whatever You please, but it’s within a bigger structure where other people are doing the same oblivious to the whole life being lived out a few metres away, but separated form the conciousness of other people by the fact that they can’t see/hear You. As an adult it’s not that different. There’s more rooms, but there’s still that idea of having a place that is physically shut off from the rest of the world, attached to several other places that are physically shut off from the rest of the world. The lonely crowd model has never been so apt.