Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Musings on Midnight Mayhem

Not too long ago, I was reading a story. A very masterfully written and gripping story, by a very talented someone who just might read this blog once in a while.

In this story, I encountered the following line: "I screamed at the top of my lungs. My neighbors' lights went on immediately afterward and I ran back inside."
It got me thinking. This is a classic scene in lots of books, movies, TV shows, and other works of fiction. Loud noise from somewhere outside a residential area, followed by lights turning on everywhere (assuming the action occurs at night). But does it happen in real life?

Let's set up the scenario. You're resting in bed in your house (if you don't live in a house, you'll have to use your imagination). It's a little after bedtime, but you're not really asleep yet. You're just settling in when you hear loud banging and yelling coming from the direction of the neighbors. What do you do?

I know what I would do. I would crawl out of my bed, creep to the window (or door or whatever portal was required to give me a line of sight into my neighbor's territory) and try to see what was going on without being observed myself. If the disturbance was coming from a place I couldn't see, I'd put my ear to the wall or floor and be quiet, hoping I could hear some information. That would be my first instinct, which I would act on without engaging in very much thought.

This is not what happens in stories, and movies, and TV shows, and pretty much any work of fiction I've ever encountered. In these kinds of made-up scenarios, the first thing that happens when someone creates a ruckus at night, is the neighbors all start turning on their lights.

Is this really what people do when their environment is disturbed? Light up giant glowing beacons and make huge targets of themselves?

I'm not saying, of course, that every neighborhood disturbance is a dangerous situation that requires stealth and self-protection strategies, but I am saying that anyone with a lick of sense would probably want to exercise a bit of discretion and not immediately reveal their position (or their nosiness) before even knowing what was going on. 

What do you think, friends and readers? Am I the odd one out here, or is this just a classic case of "Everyone in the world of fiction has to be stupid, or how else would we have horror films?"


Ray Hoy said...

Never would I turn on lights in the house at the sound of a disturbance outside. If something dangerous happens to be going on out there, why would I light up the night and metaphorically scream, "Here I am!"

Jackie said...

I have had that happen, and I did not turn on the lights, but did what you suggested. I wonder though, if people turn on lights (if that happens) because they think it might scare away whoever is making the noise. It could be like a warning that someone else is aware (or many people are) and that someone might call the law. Just a thought, but I would be the one peeking out the window from a dark room.

dogtahasla said...

Lol, very true. I think this started a long time ago when they movie makers wanted to show us the neighbors reactions, but they just couldn't pull it off in the dark. They thought "Mmhhh what if we tell them to switch on their bedroom lights?" that's the closest/easiest way to show how much the noise really disturbed. In reality it never happens, for 2 reasons, one of which you've mentioned above, another one is, when something is that unusual, the first thing you wanna do is check what's happening, the light will be the last thing on your mind.