Sage Advice: Smart Home Turns Husband into Big Brother

By Amy Dickinson | September 10th, 2019

Is it unhealthy when a husband uses technology to control his home from a distance?


Smart Home Big Brother Image

Dear Amy: In this age of “smart homes,” where everything can be synched up by an app with notifications, are we wrong to feel a loss of privacy?

I work from home, so I am mainly at home during the day.

My husband gets alerts every time the front door is opened. If a package is delivered, he receives an image of the package. He can track the electricity usage from our solar production. He can turn off the lights and open the skylight from his phone.

Today he texted me that I shouldn’t be running the dryer during certain peak hours. He then shut it off remotely!

I have nothing to hide, but am increasingly annoyed that my own actions are being tracked.

He’s micromanaging me from afar!

How should I handle this?

– Living in the Future

Dear Living: I think you should send yourself a big bouquet of flowers and have it delivered during your husband’s peak “watching hours,” which I guess is all day long.

On the card, write: “Kindly stop watching me, dear. I don’t like it.”

I wish people were more aware of the potential negative impact these devices and systems can have on our personal lives and relationships.

For instance, your husband, who cannot resist the temptation to control you and your house, likely has more privacy in a crowded office than you have at home.

Once you surrender your privacy, and your freedom to make choices, including mistakes, without interference, what do you have left? An ongoing relationship with Big Brother.

If you cannot persuade your husband to respect your privacy and detach from you during the day, then you should find a co-working space, a coffee shop, or a garden shed to work out of to escape his surveillance.


In the tradition of the great personal advice columnists, Chicago Tribune’s Amy Dickinson is a plainspoken straight shooter who relates to readers of all ages. She answers personal questions by addressing issues from both her head and her heart. A solid reporter, Dickinson researches her topics to provide readers with informed opinions and answers. Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068

© 2019 by Amy Dickinson

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