The idea of the word social seems to be taking a dramatic twist. It’s obvious to even the most passive of people watchers that we are spending more and more time with our heads down on our phones, tablets and laptops, and less and less time actually talking to each other. This, of course, is not a new phenomenon. 20 years ago, parents derided computer games when they first came in. 20 years before that, their own parents derided television. But the ironic rise of “social” media is relatively new. While ignoring those in the same room as us, we ‘chat’, message, text and tweet others throughout the day; the average person checks Facebook 14 times a day. Surely this is a good thing; the more people communicate, the more colourful our lives are. After all, variety is the Spice Girl of life. As a Dereham farmer said to me this summer, “it’s no good talking to your pigs all day, you’ve got to talk to people, too; that’s what life’s about.” So what is it about being in a group that is so important, and what is it about being alone, that is so bad? Some of the most content people are happiest when they are on their own. Certainly space and tranquillity are aspects to be sought after. Again there is irony here. For example, crowds flock to Holkham Beach, for that very reason, the space and… tranquillity. And people will leave a place in droves to escape the crowds. So what is the perfect balance?
How about being somewhere with the very people you actually want to be social with, excluding those that might well be a distraction. In other words, exclusivity.
The very word sounds enchanting. It conjures up images of being waited on hand and foot by waistcoat-clad butlers or of enjoying your own private bay…. No, beach…. No, island. But exclusivity is no fun without friends. We all want to be alone…. on our own…. just with our friends. And at The Grove this idea is becoming more and more popular with our guests. The demand for exclusive hire of our lovely country house on the North Norfolk coast has increased dramatically over the past few years. And, maybe, just maybe it’s got something to do with the fact that if we are away with a big group, it’s a bit like a big community. Where we can interact with each other in real time, comment on other peoples’ actions, share stories, show pictures and generally be social, ring any bells? I guess it’s something that we are all becoming pretty good at nowadays.