Have you ever stood too close to someone and simply felt uncomfortable? Or has anyone stepped away from you looking with a nervous smile, gaining distance while you stood their pondering why? The idea of personal space isn’t a myth, nor is it something that people simply make up in order to make themselves feel better. There is a very real idea of what personal space is and the fact is that some folks just don’t get it.
While it’s true that this varies between cultures and different regions of the world, personal space is still important to a lot of people, and here in the states it is considered something that a lot of folks don’t want to lose. Some people really don’t mind if others get close, but when it comes to strangers and even just casual friends many people don’t feel the need to become intimate when it comes to how close they get to one another.
It tends to make people in certain cultures uncomfortable and even irritable at times.
It’s not a given that either picture above would be from one country or another. This could very well happen anywhere. But on average those in an elevator in America don’t tend to speak to one another all that much unless they’re friends, family, or happen to know each other in some way that transcends personal space. Even so, a crowd such as this in the US would typically be silent, even pensive at times as the people standing so close to each other waited for the moment when they could separate. Why this is so can usually only be explained by each person with any accuracy, but what sociologists have discovered is that much of the time how a person views their personal space will depend on where they grew up.
There are times when it’s highly inappropriate to invade someone else’s space.
This picture is one of the unfortunate situations that people can find themselves in, but the video above is an even better example. People somehow think it’s okay to invade someone else’s personal space at times, either on purpose for a gag, or by accident. In the latter case there’s not much that can be done save to politely tell the person that they are in your space and ask them to sit or step back. Should they not do so then it is wise to simply step away if possible. It never pays to get violent with someone for invading your space, but there are times when it might be tempting.
All in all, personal space is very important to some people and not as important to others, but it exists all the same. So if you feel that someone is infringing upon your personal space at least let them know with a polite word. Hopefully many people would gladly move back a step or two and afford you that measure of comfort, if it’s possible.