The Death Of Personal Space


If you’d like proof – real, tangible proof that the concept of personal space is dead, or at least on life support and someone’s hand is on the plug…

Come join me at the airport.

And no, I’m not talking about folks who have just spent time together, soaring through the skies in a winged tube. Their personal space was forfeited the moment they bought their ticket – just check the fine print. It’s in there. Believe me – I read it on the internet.

Yeah.

No, the lack of the 18″ bubble around your personage I’m referring to happens in the terminal.

When waiting for passengers to arrive, folks will crawl over, nudge aside, or stick their boo-TAYs anyplace their little hearts desire. Usually, they’re not even distantly aware that they’ve even passed by another humanperson. Passed by closely. Too freakishly closely.

Boo-TAY to da FACE! Yeah!

No.

One positive: immense handbags wielded with skills that would make a ninja blush by unaware femalepersons are not so common. My personage thanks you.

One negative: They (and malepersons too) are now armed with hulking backpacks, with even more potential damage and the benefit of being wielded behind one’s back, so the excuse, “Sorry – I didn’t see you there” becomes plausible and automatic.

Well played, backpack ninja. Well played.

Now, I’ll admit to very, very colored perceptions. Not only am I more than a little crowd-phobic, my previous dimensions make me way over-sensitive to personal space.

When you’ve taken much more than your allotted space for most of your life, you tend to be aware of it, and overcompensate. A lot.

Anyway, I wonder where personal space went?

If I were to guess, (And by uttering that phrase, I’m about to…), I’d start with our me-centric culture – at least culture in the western world I live in. If anything stands between you and what you want, run it over.

But though that seems like a good guess, I think it’s a little too easy. Certainly, it explains some folks – for example, it explains driven, no-nonsense, hard-working businesspersons I see exiting their planes and making their way out of the concourse.

With extreme prejudice. 

And heaven help you if you’re going slower than they are. (Believe me – you could be sprinting, and you still wouldn’t be moving fast enough for them…) They will go over, under, beside, or through you, casting your still-beating heart aside with a squishy plop and laughing maniacally.

I may just be exaggerating that last. A little. Possibly.

But not much.

I have seen them body check elderly peeps in wheelchairs, cause people with crutches to wobble, or, when their efforts to maintain forward momentum at all costs are thwarted, ride a personal back bumper like a tailgater at rush hour, uttering the fiery heavy sighs of indignance and distain with enough fury to scorch the hair of people 10 yards in front of them.

Again, possibly exaggeration. Might only be 5 yards.

For others, I think it’s less about “obliterating anything between you and the goal,” and instead something much simpler, and maybe a little sadder…

They simply aren’t aware. And they don’t really care.

We’re a pretty inward focused lot, we humanbeans. We build little pockets of Me, Myself, and I everywhere we go. We sit down, dive nose-first into our device du jour, and tell the world to go bye bye.

(And yes, the irony of writing that while sitting at the airport in my own Fortress of Solitude a.k.a. iPad is pretty humorous.)

Now, when we arise from our device-induced stupor, we begin wandering into the physical world, where things like “three dimensional,” “moving through physical space under your own power,” and “where the heck did all these other humanbeans come from, and why are they in my way?” become an issue.

We move from attention lock and sensory deprivation to moving around in a world where things aren’t arranged to our personal specifications. No wonder we walk over things, stop direct in front of others, and commit backpack-related indignities totally unaware.

To borrow a quote from Batman Begins, “You never were mindful of your surroundings.”

I think personal space is dead. And I think no one even noticed…

Until a post on Facebook, that is.

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