Is the Living Room Doomed? The Evolution of Hospitality and the Future of Conversation

Do contemporary people still need a living room?

Looking through Douban and Zhihu, you will find that just a while ago, many people were discussing the same interesting but trivial question: Why are many young people now disgusted with guests at home?

Some people say that it is because seven aunts and eight aunts came to visit during the Chinese New Year, which left a psychological shadow on themselves; some say that “highly sociophobic patients” have no friends, and any visitor to the house must be an assassin; some say that guests do as they please. As a host, I have only one principle: don’t come in.

But if it must be said, contemporary young people are more concerned about another thing: when guests come, is there a place to entertain them?

You must have had this experience: After moving to this new house, a (temporary) friend came over several times, and after entering the door, all he could say was: “I only have one chair, you sit down, I will lie down on the bed.” It sounds like It is a psychological therapy that focuses on anti-customers.
So today, we’re going to talk to you about the history of hospitality spaces.
The living room was not built in a day

At first, the name of the living room was “parlor”, which was translated into Chinese as “waiting room”. If you hear this word and no picture comes to mind, you can refer to “Downton Abbey”. In Downton Abbey, gentlemen and ladies are holding wine glasses in the living room, pacing back and forth, or sitting on the sofa, talking about family affairs or the international situation.

In fact, this is the initial application scenario of the living room as a “family space product”: the development of urban civilization has led to the formation of the gentry class with leisure and money, and they need to open up such a space to assume new entertainment functions. The so-called entertainment mainly means one thing: talking.

Fast forward to the beginning of the 20th century. After World War I, the Spanish Flu was rampant. During the flu period, people did not dare to visit other people’s homes, so the living room became an empty room. There is a similar plot in “Downton Abbey”: the Countess of Grantham contracted a serious illness and was unable to entertain guests. However, the lady in the play recovered, but the real situation was much more tragic. There is no time for the accumulated remains to be buried one by one, so they can only be piled up in unoccupied spaces, including the living room, that are usually unoccupied. The “parlor” at that time also had a new name: the death room.

However, when everything revived, there was laughter and laughter in the reception room again, and it was inappropriate to call it “the death room”. As a result, people gave this land a new name “the living room”, and this name has been used to this day.

The manorial system will decline, and castles will one day become tourist attractions. The luxurious “living room” has gradually become an essential “living room” in every apartment with the evolution of lifestyle. Urban space has to accommodate more people and gradually becomes more intensive and compact, and the functions that the living room has to bear also increase. Not only entertaining guests, but also daily life scenes will take place here, making it a veritable “living room”.

Perhaps it is precisely because of the confusion between living space and guest space that modern people realize the importance of “privacy”. In Chinese society, which is undergoing rapid modernization, different experiences of privacy are like a stretched ligament in people’s minds. The parents’ generation still retains the tradition of neighborhood harmony before urbanization, and invites relatives and friends to their homes as a matter of course. However, in this strange encounter, the children’s generation perceives the daily living space, and occasionally becomes a hospitality space. feeling of discomfort.
It’s hard to speak, but it’s even harder to talk to others

One thing that’s a bit like a paradox is: We say we don’t want others to enter our private space, but in the electronic age, hasn’t our privacy been leaked comprehensively enough?

Typing is more time-consuming and labor-intensive than speaking, and pictures are easier to click to view than audio. In the online world, vision is the most important “primary” and hearing is the second. This Internet-based visual tyranny is an inevitable part of contemporary life. As for language, speech is primary, and words are secondary, because words are not the whole message, and they lose the tone and temperature of speech. This contradiction has led to widespread misunderstandings in the current online world. Even with the support of network technology, no matter how popular instant messaging is, it is difficult to create vivid interactions between two terminals simply using text.

The popularity of Clubhouse, which is similar to the “conversation parlor”, is a challenge to this visual primacy. On platforms that focus on speech, we will find that truly valuable discussions are indeed more likely to occur – but the use of voice chat rooms is niche after all. For those of us who are used to typing and chatting, talking is still dispensable after all.

The disappearance of the conversation scene may be the essence of the living room no longer hosting guests. Because speaking is also a skill, and if you don’t use it often, you will become unfamiliar. Once you are unfamiliar with each other, being a guest and treating guests will become boring. People on the Internet gather under customized topics of interest, gradually forming information cocoons. Few people are willing to step out of their comfort zone and challenge their own and others’ ideas and knowledge, because once they disagree, there is no need to say it again. This habit has been brought into real life by us, which naturally terminates a series of communication reasons.

What we really need, perhaps like patients who have been bedridden for a long time, is a rehabilitation, a rehabilitation to start talking again.
If the living room becomes dispensable, will hospitality disappear?

For contemporary young people, the living room seems to have become a dispensable space. For empty-nest young people who rent a small one-bedroom apartment in first- and second-tier cities, as long as the house has a table and a bed, they can eat and sleep. For basic human survival activities such as watching TV shows or even doing work while scrolling through mobile phones, when friends come, you can just go out and find a place. Does it matter whether there is a so-called hospitality space?

Therefore, making friends online without physical contact has become a better option. The tension between hospitality and living disappears, and the space becomes truly private. In particular, in the vision claimed by many technology giants, the kind of skin-to-skin interaction in “Ready Player One” will soon be possible. When that day comes, what need will there be for hospitality?

However, how do we, stuck between the previous physical era and the next virtual era, deal with this aphasic era? “Hospitality” was once a beautiful quality, but it was out of place in the bustling urban landscape. The aversion to visitors is both subjective and rooted in the system in which we are trapped. Countryside, village, farmhouse, visit, these words with warmth (but also meaning trouble) are gradually squeezed out of daily life, and can only exist in the distance outside of life, or in Li Ziqi’s videos.

To say too much, they are all the tears of the times. For you and me, no matter how emotional we are, even if we know that someone will visit occasionally in the future, I probably won’t bother to buy a second chair. After all, no matter how much your friend likes you, there is no need to squeeze into a space that is not very spacious to talk – after all, you also know that there is also a single bed and a lone child in the other person’s home. upright chair.

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