About Alison

A feisty mother earth type, who has an opinion about everything I would like to think I use my "chopsy" attitude to throw some light and perhaps a new slant on current social and cultural issues.

Since I moved to the country for a quiet life I have been lucky enough to create a more healthy more relaxed environment for myself. I love country life, Family, Friends, Horses and Dogs. I also love, photography, writing/chatting and connecting with others.

Please have a look at a collection of my photos blog,


or join in on my chats here or on my otherblog


which follows my efforts to learn to ride and care for horses in my 50s! or just follow me on Twitter and I will follow you back (if you are a real person) on @alisonbarton1. Enjoy and talk to me.

Saturday, 30 June 2012

What’s good about minding your own business?

Has social networking given us a useful tool to help others or is it just a modern way to be nosy?

After the second world war there was a lot of temporary housing, ”prefabs” which became permanent and lasted well into the 70s. As a young couple my parents lived in one. Some of theses groups of little corrugated iron bungalows were built in the strangest of places, away from existing streets or bomb sites. One in particular was a settlement of twenty or so built on a large traffic island in the middle of a small town, surrounded by traffic and shops; it was a whorl of activity of coming and going.

I am not sure how people were allocated these homes if they were neighbours moved  en bloc or initially strangers to each other. It didn’t take long, though for everyone’s routines to be known to one another the walls were thin and the paths crisscrossed under bedroom windows. The little gardens were usually kept tidy and colourful but they too were small and there was nowhere to hide. Family life therefore was very much exposed for all to witness, the highs and the lows. There was still a mixture of cultural responses to “trouble”, some felt what went on was private , but somehow disapproval of certain goings on hovered ever ready and acted as a moderator in some cases and a safety network in others. Domestic violence is a fairly new term in a historical sense but it is something which has been around since the caveman. Tolerance of it and of child abuse has sensitised somewhat in the last 30 years, but I think people always had a bottom line which was not to be tolerated. Hitting children, quite harshly was acceptable, then,  after all. However in this tight, cheek by jowl existence there was something that united them and it became a practise as concern spread they would react spontaneously to a new event to protect  a vulnerable member of the neighbourhood , a child, a wife an elderly man, perhaps. Sometimes it involved nothing more than a crowd forming to oust the abuser once and for all and give a woman the confidence to shout “and don’t come back” and everyone would know. Other times rightly or wrongly more pressure was brought to bare to “reform” someone’s behaviour.

Crowds forming at incidents were common, people had no embarrassment of being right there in the thick of it and throwing in the odd challenging remark, buoyed by the presence of their neighbours. Then it seem to peter out and net curtain twitching was all we could muster and a surreptitious call to the authorities, in some ways this “nosy” behaviour became despised. We all moved into more insular lives, more cars, bigger shops, higher garden fences. We stopped looking and we stopped caring and it became somebody else’s responsibility, to look out for others.

Now social networking has brought us a new opportunity to spread the word when someone needs help and we have a tool we feel comfortable using to bring pressure to bare. There are bad things about technology and there will never be a replacement for a brave sole to step up and be counted and use their own physicality to protect someone.

But we have entered a new era where each and everyone one of us can make a difference and add our voices to others to raise the volume to be heard.  The following film is an example of how we can each be a voice for good. It is 30 mins long but it is so interesting and provoking,even if you don;t agree with this particular cause, you can see how each one of us can use technology for good.

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Hi I am really interested in your comments so let me know what you think and I will get back to you if you want me to. Thanks for reading
Alison xx