Bursting Bubbles

Today I attended the Belgian PR Summit (or at least the first hour of it, which was in English. Unfortunately my French and Dutch skills, or lack thereof, didn’t allow me to participate further), and a point that one of the keynote speakers, Will McInnes, made has really stuck with me. We are living in a time where, globally-speaking, we are more connected than ever. And yet, social media has put us into ‘filter bubbles’ from which most of us fail ever to break out. When we search for things on the internet, the results aren’t a real representation of what’s ‘out there’, they are merely holding up a mirror to our own narrow viewpoint, enabling us to reinforce these views without scrutiny. Will used Brexit (I still shudder at the word) as an example: so many of us believed we would remain, because our personal bubbles reassured us that we would. In reality, however, a totally different conversation was happening all around us, one that we were dangerously blind to. And now the same has happened in America.

If ever there were a time for us to collectively wake up, this, my friends, is it.

But how to shout outside the bubble in which we have unwittingly found ourselves? I am scratching my head as I type this trying to work it out. But work it out we must. Instead of having conversations with other people like us, it’s time to start initiating conversation with those who aren’t. As someone who believes that fundamentally humans are good (because otherwise stop the world, I want to get off), I cannot let myself fall into the trap of branding everyone who voted for Brexit or for Trump (very different situations, I hasten to add, but both with far-reaching consequences for us all) as ignorant, racists, or any of the other terms being bandied about by people in ‘my’ bubble. Even if I find it hard to disagree, I have to try to stop thinking of ‘them’ and ‘us’, because that just makes the problem even worse. Vilifying people makes the gulf even wider. Instead, would it not be logical to try and start a dialogue with those whose views are different to our own, so we can better understand their point of view, and they can better understand ours? True, the most vocal people in both camps are a lost cause in this respect, but there must be many moderates on both sides who are prepared to hear each other out. Surely if we engage in a non-confrontational way we can better understand the real issues, and work out a way to address them that doesn’t involve stirring up anger and hatred?

I don’t know what the answer is, but I plan to do a lot of thinking about it. Because if we don’t work out how to break free from our bubbles, we are essentially just shouting into the void. And the future of humanity in a world where bubbles never burst is a truly terrifying prospect.

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Hot tub dreamin’

Since Hot Tub Cinema the other week hot tubs have (unsurprisingly, I suppose) been on my mind. And not just my mind, it would seem, as a friend of mine has now decided he wants to hire a garden full of inflatable ones for his upcoming birthday (how brilliant is that?!)

Looking back beyond hot tub cinema I think the seed of my obsession may actually have been planted last summer when, two days before I was due to attend the Secret Garden Party festival in Cambridge, a friend who’d had to drop out offered me her ticket for ‘Bathing in the Sky.’ For the princely sum of twenty-something pounds I had procured a ticket to what I couldn’t have known then would prove to be a lifeline on the third day of a particularly muddy festival.

Inside this veritable Garden of Eden were not only the most delightful wooden hot tubs, set amongst a leafy green Hobbit-esque enclave away from the grubby horrors of the camp site and stages, but also shower facilities that would leave even the filthiest of revellers gloriously clean. In short, the two hours I spent there with my boyfriend and my best friend were amongst the best of my life, and I emerged feeling like a new woman.

Given my soon-to-be-part-time employment status I’ve no idea why I started browsing the internet and torturing myself with all of the amazing hot tub options on the market (although I couldn’t help but notice Arctic Spas do an ‘extreme bargain’ option on reconditioned, used hot tubs – surely I could save up for one of those?!), but what I am increasingly beginning to feel is that, until I have a hot tub to call my own, I simply will not have ‘arrived’ in life.

Picture this: After a hard day’s work you come home, walk through the door, hang your coat up and go upstairs to change into your fluffy white bath robe and slippers. Moments later you walk through the kitchen, pour yourself a glass of chilled Prosecco and open up the doors to the patio, upon which sits a glorious hot tub. Steam swirls invitingly up from its surface as you remove your robe and sink beneath the water. Within moments your troubles are all but forgotten and you are transported somewhere else entirely; your muscles relax, you close your eyes and you are home. Doesn’t everyone dream of this?

Okay, maybe not everyone, but few could deny a hot tub is a welcome addition to any ski holiday. Thus far in my skiing career (and I use the word ‘career’ loosely) I can’t say I’ve been able to afford a chalet with its own private hot tub, but just as in my previous example I imagine it would be a thing of great beauty and a most enjoyable experience to dip a post-ski frozen toe into the warmth of the water within.

It’s the decadence, really, that I covet. Nobody needs a hot tub to survive, granted, but what a lovely treat to come home to. There must surely be some research somewhere on the positive benefits of owning one; I’d hazard a guess they reduce stress in much the same way as owning a cat (though don’t quote me on that).

But until my freelance career sky rockets I’m sad to say my dream of owning a hot tub – reconditioned or otherwise – looks to be just that: A dream. So in the meantime I suppose I’ll have to make do with stroking the cat (and, come to think of it, I should probably start saving for a house to put the hot tub in…)

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