Room 101

This week, my friend Magpie Moth ran a series of guest posts dedicated to Room 101 on his blog. My contribution went up today, where I risked recursion and space-time paradox by putting Room 101 into Room 101.

The full article is also available below the break.

It does make me wonder what guests posts I could invite for Endless Realms…?


Controversially, I’d like to put Room 101 into Room 101. I know this might cause a paradox in time and space, sucking everything into a destructive vortex, but that’s a risk I’m willing to take. Firstly, taking the metaphorical Room 101 concept, that of the TV show and countless blog posts, it’s the finality that annoys me. Nothing is ever final, there are always exceptions, there are caveats, nuances and subtleties. Take ‘people standing on the left on the escalator’, a popular choice to expunge from the universe. It’s irritating, isn’t it? And yet, we dampen down our passive aggressive tutting in the case of tourists, those burdened by large bags or prams. And for the rest, the inconsiderate or the wilfully obstructive? They rob us of seconds of time. Mere Seconds. Maybe even a whole minute if it’s a particularly long escalator.

It’s never the big things that get put into Room 101, it’s the tiny, inconsequential first world problems that irritate us slightly, or for which we see no place in the world. It’s Twilight fans waxing lyrical about the ‘wrong kind of vampires’, it’s cinemas full of movie sequels, it’s people eating with their mouthes open. Small annoyances that really affect nothing consequential, or that might be important to someone else but butts against our prejudices or sense of entitlement.

Anyone who knows me knows that I’d rather not pollute my body or sully my tastebuds with cheap instant coffee. But while I may make a big song and dance of my dismay for those who do, I still wouldn’t send instant coffee to Room 101. People can make choices for themselves. People can learn, can educate their palates. Or not, it’s actually irrelevant to me.

What about the big things? Perhaps we should send organised religion to Room 101? There’s no doubting the harms it has inflicted on society, culture and lives. And yet, a deeper, more nuanced look at it reveals the benefits it has gifted society, culture and people’s lives. Does the equation balance? Does it swing more one way or another? I’d say it doesn’t matter. It’s not a black or white issue. And that’s what the concept of Room 101 demands: A black or white decision, separating things that are tolerable from some things that aren’t.

Finally, we all know that Room 101 stems from Orwell’s 1984. But Room 101 was not a place where annoyances were sent to be wiped from our lives. It was a torture chamber, a place where undesirables were sent to be ‘re-educated’ by subjecting them to their worst nightmare, fear or phobia. Personally, I don’t think I’d be happy sending anything or anybody to such a place and I’m a little suspicious of anybody who is comfortable with that.