Dear Amy: In this age of “smart homes,” where everything can be synced up by an app with notifications, are we wrong to feel a loss of privacy?
I work from home, so I am mainly at home during the day.
My husband gets alerts every time the front door is opened. If a package is delivered, he receives an image of the package. He can track the electricity usage from our solar production. He can turn off the lights and open the skylight from his phone.
Today, he texted me that I shouldn’t be running the dryer during certain peak hours. He then shut it off remotely!
I have nothing to hide, but am increasingly annoyed that my own actions are being tracked.
He’s micromanaging me from afar!
How should I handle this?
Living in the Future
Dear Living: I think you should send yourself a big bouquet of flowers and have it delivered during your husband’s peak “watching hours,” which I guess is all day long.
On the card, write: “Kindly stop watching me, dear. I don’t like it.”
I wish people were more aware of the potential negative impact these devices and systems can have on our personal lives and relationships.
For instance, your husband, who cannot resist the temptation to control you and your house, likely has more privacy in a crowded office than you have at home.
Once you surrender your privacy, and your freedom to make choices, including mistakes, without interference, what do you have left? An ongoing relationship with Big Brother.
If you cannot persuade your husband to respect your privacy and detach from you during the day, then you should find a co-working space, a coffee shop or a garden shed to work out of to escape his surveillance.
Dear Amy: I’m a 30-year-old woman who lives with my boyfriend. I’ve had several weddings in the past few years for friends and family, and I’m happy for all of them.
HOWEVER, I am sick of attending bridal showers when the couple has lived together for years and is financially stable. It feels gift-grabby. Showers originated for couples moving out of their parents’ homes and living with each other for the first time — people “just starting out” with empty homes.
Showers also hearken to traditional gender roles — I feel silly buying cooking tools for “Lindsey’s shower” when I know it’s her fiancé who does the cooking.
Am I being a curmudgeon? Many of these couples have lived together for years in furnished homes, and items will be used by both the man and woman, yet they expect only their female friends (not males) to provide new domestic items. It also is a gross reminder of consumer culture wherein people collect mounds of junk they don’t need.
My mother said that even if I don’t attend, I’d still have to send a gift just because I was invited!
Who is right?
Dear Fed Up: If an invitation alone obligated a person to provide a gift, then we’d all receive a lot more disingenuous invitations.
If you don’t attend a shower, you are not obligated to send a gift (although some people choose to send gifts, regardless).
I agree with you about consumer culture and gender roles. However, when you give a gift at a shower, it is intended as a gift for both parties (and not all showers are cisgendered affairs). I also don’t think it is up to you to decide whether a couple “needs” dish towels or a blender. Attend with an open mind, or don’t attend.
Some marrying couples are getting creative about showers; for couples who are already well-equipped with traditional shower-type gifts, I love the idea of a “charity shower,” where guests are encouraged to bring food, toiletries, school backpacks to fill or cash for a charity of the couple’s choosing.
Dear Amy: “Mutt Mama” had adopted an aggressive dog, and wanted advice about how to keep others away.
A yellow ribbon or scarf prominently tied on a leash or collar is a clear and easily recognized signal that this dog is NOT friendly and DO NOT APPROACH.
It would also give Mama a chance to educate others who may not have learned that lesson.
Kudos to Mama for taking on the pet that might not have been adoptable.
Dear Dog Lover: Several people pointed out that a yellow scarf or ribbon should be recognized by other dog owners as a signal to give a wide berth. Thank you.