One of our family’s treats each year is to attend concerts at the Montreux Jazz Festival. We have been doing this for the last 4 festivals – seeing acts ranging from Adele to Status Quo to Mumford & Sons to Mark Ronson to Alicia Keys. Our children started doing this when they were 9 & 10 – and we always buy tickets to stand to get to the front and enjoy the music.

This year, our treat was to watch Sting at the Stravinski Auditorium. Standing tickets were behind about 12 rows of seats – and getting there early to queue was important. We took some friends and their children – and commenced our queuing at 5:30 – with doors opening at 7pm. We got 4th place in the queue! When the barriers came down, we rushed up the stairs to find the auditorium doors closed – and 35 minutes later we were finally let in to bag our place. We found a nice space up against the barrier and next to a TV camera stand with a clear view for the youngsters in the party (ranging from 12-16 years).

What intrigued me is the dynamic of trying to keep your “personal space” in these situations. It’s fun standing up and being able to move around (I can’t call it dancing!!). However, there is a tension about keeping your space and not letting people push in or get too close. We spotted a couple of young girls about 4 layers back (they were 8 & 9 years old attending their first concert). Their view was totally blocked by our party – so we negotiated with those around us to budge up and their mum and dad were able to send them to the front to enjoy! That was the nice bit… The girls headed off to bed at the interval – and then the spaces changed … and suddenly there was an issue! My friend, Sally, got “monstered” from behind by a couple. Firstly, the man got too close to Sally – then the lady insisted on pushing her handbag into her back (and that of a Swiss lady next to her). Eventually, a highly vocal row broke out (as Sting was performing one of his quiet numbers). It was all very tense and uncomfortable. As a solution, I swapped places with Sally … and the lady got bored with poking me in the back with her handbag after another couple of numbers.

We are so used to having our space – and the nicer the life we lead, the less we like the crush of the Tube trains and the chaos of the Easyjet airline queues. Recently, Sir Terence Conran, one of Britain’s best loved designers, said: “…space is undoubtedly going to be the greatest luxury of the 21st century.” He’s definitely right…

I’m just reading a book called “Tales from Facebook” by Daniel Miller. It was recommended to my by my Twitter friend @SadGrimm – and is proving to be a cracking read with a “short story” style helping to present the research. The Facebook focussed research is very relevant to the real-life scenario above. Here is a brief excerpt:-

“You simply can’t have both closeness and privacy. You cant have support without claustrophobia. You can’t have this degree of friendship without the risk of explosive quarreling. Either everything is more socially intense or none of it is.”

As we build our Personal Networks in real life – or online with social media networks like Facebook, LinkedIn and “new kid on the block” Google+ – we will continue to juggle (and make compromises on) closeness and privacy.