Is it just me, or is the concept of “Personal Space,” disappearing from society? What is personal space? Some people say it’s an invisible bubble that surrounds us. An imaginary barrier, extending two to three feet in every direction. A person’s personal space is supposed to be a safe haven from physical intrusions by others.
Wikipedia says personal space is the region surrounding a person which they regard as psychologically theirs. Most people value their personal space and feel discomfort, anger, or anxiety when their personal space is encroached. I think part of the problem is that there are just too many people. Wherever we go we seem to either be waiting in long lines or packed into enclosed spaces like waiting rooms, buses, subways and elevators.
I also think a lot of the problem is, people are just too impatient. I was in the supermarket yesterday, and was placing my groceries on the conveyor when the person behind me pushed their cart up against me as if to gently, but steadily force me forward. We've all had this happen to us. I'll usually say excuse me, and then force their cart back a foot or two with my leg. Yesterday, the person behind me wouldn't let up, and the cart kept bumping into the back of my legs. I finally had enough of the rudeness, glanced back with a disapproving scowl, and said,
The thing about intrusions into our own personal space is that they’re not only physical. How many of you have stood next to a guy with a huge smelly cigar which formed a cloud off billowing smoke around your head? Have any of you been in an enclosed room or close to a person having a public, and should I say embarrassing, and almost painful cell phone conversation? Did you want to say,
"Excuse me, but I can hearrr……. you…… and I’m taking detailed notes. I already have your name, address, and phone number. Why don’t you just toss over your house keys. I can burglarize your home now, and save the trouble of breaking in later tonight.
I once sat close to a woman who pulled out her cell phone, and in a loud voice, proceeded to rant about how her husband was a loser. She also said he was overweight, in a dead-end job, a lousy lover, and even had a freakishly large and hideous boil on his left butt cheek. Thank God no one realized she was my wife, and I managed to sneak out without being noticed!
It must be tougher for women to maintain their own personal space. I’m a big man, but I know what it’s like to have an elevator door open to a sea of sweaty men. My first thought is always,
"What the heck. I think I'll take the stairs."
Ladies, have you ever had elevator doors open to thirty men in business suits? Were they packed into a ten by eight foot space like sardines? Were some of the guys smiling, and saying,
"Come on in. There's plenty of room here in the back." I’ll bet you took the stairs.
Subway trains, or transit buses can be worse. If you’ve ridden one, you may have noticed two things. First, you'll see that all the women are standing because healthy young men won't give up their seats. The second thing you'll see is that all the women are surrounded by tightly packed groups of middle aged-men. No wonder women are taking up, and becoming incredibly proficient in various forms of the martial arts. They have to be, just to get home from work.
I have a personal confession to make. I think I may be a hypocrite. I firmly believe in personal space, and will often vigorously and sometimes violently defend it; but I have to admit, I don't always mind when the fairer sex invades it. I don't want other men anywhere near me, but will let women freely enter my personal space; gently, kindly, and with no repercussions. If I’m ever forced into close quarters with women, I’m not thinking,
"Darn these women. Why are they so close to me with those lovely smiles and intoxicating perfumes? Didn't they ever hear of the concept of personal space?” Does it make me a bad person?