Domestic Cozy, or choosing your own hellscape
Ribbonfarm has a series of posts by Venkatesh Rao on what he calls ‘domestic cozy’, a generational shift away from image-conscious public life and towards home comforts. This post is from 2019 – the pandemic has just supercharged a trend which already existed.
It finds its best expression in privacy, among friends, rather than in public, among strangers. It prioritizes the needs of the actor rather than the expectations of the spectator. It seeks to predictably control a small, closed environment rather than gamble in a large, open one. It presents a WYSIWYG facade to those granted access rather than performing in a theater of optics…. Minecraft, YouTube, cooking at home, and knitting are domestic cozy.
I recognize this pattern, and I loathe it. I’m actually a bit startled by the strength of my negative reaction, and wondering what it says about me. Living around pleasant things? Buying things for your own joy, not to show off on instagram? I should like this. And yet I have an almost physical reaction of repulsion. Rao talks about some of the horrors from which Domestic Cozy is a retreat:
people…rendered homeless amidst urban blight, dodging crazy homeless people and gingerly stepping around feces, fallen scooters, used needles, and condoms, as they navigate around high-rises they cannot afford to live in….
I feel yes! yes! I choose THIS hell for my life!. Turns out, I’m old enough that even my dystopia is unfashionable.