Friday, 18 May 2012

Third Space vs Third Place

Read the definition of the Third Space carefully. Now read the discussion of Ray Oldenberg's original idea . A gym in the middle of London with monthly membership of over £110 isn't "free or inexpensive" and conversation is not the main activity. But then nowhere in the UK is conversation the main activity - at least the kind of civic conversation that Oldenberg and others would have in mind. The English don't do civic conversation, because the English don't do civic, civil or citizen. Mostly they talk crap about football or polite nothings about anything else. If you ever had a substantive conversation with an English person, they were one of those people who were born in the wrong country.

The ad could only have been written by a single person from a family home they couldn't wait to leave and whose first job was totally boring and pointless. Or am I the only person who gets an implication is that work and home are places that sometimes you have to be when you don't want to, with people you'd rather not know, doing stuff you'd rather not be doing. 

The point is, of course, that those things are true. The point of work is that you get paid, so  you can pay income taxes, sales taxes, local taxes, pension, insurance, train fare, water, gas and electric, medical, dental, work clothes and shoes, gym subscription, food... did I leave anything out? Oh, right. Fun. If you have money left for that. So that's what work is for. Please don't tell me that what you get paid for is your passion, though actually, if you look up what "passion" means, you may find out that it doesn't mean in English what it means in HR-drone speak.

Home is for? I mean, if there are other people there? And sometimes you don't want them to be there and sometimes you have to do things you don't want to do when you're there? So if you live on your own, you're really missing a trick if you don't take the trouble to make your place somewhere you want to be. Or it becomes just the place where you sleep and have breakfast, which for a lot of single people in cities is pretty much what it is.

Maybe the ad writer has a point. The civic Third Place envisaged by Oldenberg is an "aspiration" (management-speak for "unrealistic goal, standard or idea"), not a reality. Maybe in a couple of places in Spain and France, but nowhere in Northern and Eastern Europe, or anywhere in the Anglo-sphere. Maybe the closest we can get is this commoditised Third Space, where we're temporarily free of the compulsory stuff. 

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