Wednesday, May 07, 2014

No, really, don't touch me

Continuing yesterday's musing about the importance(?) of being polite...

My greatest fear is that some airline is going to start letting people use their cell phones on airplanes. I can't tell you how horrible that will be. As I have pointed out to many people, listening to one end of a phone conversation is actually a traumatic experience. It is physically unnerving to hear the punctuated vocalizations, uneven pauses, and up-and-down decibels. It's not like listening to background chatter at all. When you are sitting in a coffee shop or a bus or some other place where people are chatting (no, not a movie theater, assholes) it can be almost like elevator music or ocean waves or whatever--perfectly ignorable. And then someone takes out their damn cell phone because god forbid they just sit down and shut up for five minutes of their lives. The worst is when you run into One of Those. The people who finish one phone call and instead of putting the phone away or even putting it down immediately start scrolling through their contacts, trying to figure out who will be next to fill their lonely, unimaginative existences while destroying the serenity of all around them.

I think quiet cars (on commuter trains and whatnot) are the greatest thing ever.

Perhaps we could designate one flight per day for all of the people who want to either talk on their stupid phones OR travel with kids that aren't taught that they have to behave differently on airplanes than they do in other places? That would be fine. Let them all fly together, and leave the rest of us in peace.

I have a lot of sympathy for the "Get off my lawn!" people. By this, of course, I mostly refer to metaphorical lawns, although the other day I did watch a small child from next door toddle across the grass of the house I'm staying in (that's right, it doesn't even belong to me!) and my first thought was "Ugh, that kid totally thinks he can stray into someone else's yard..." or, rather, "Ugh, that kid's parents totally don't care if he toddles across someone else's yard"...what that experience taught me is that the main reason I mostly want people to get off of my metaphorical lawn is simply that I don't have a real lawn, and if I did, I would want people to get off of that, too.

It's like this, essentially: don't touch me, don't touch my things, and don't touch my mental things (i.e., give me my mental/emotional/psychological/whatever "space").

I understand there are some of you who don't go through your days with these feelings?  What must that be like?

Some folks describe themselves like this: "I'm a people person." I'm pretty sure I've never uttered those words about myself, although I do like to meet smart, interesting, funny people (usually in that order). And obviously I only truly like people if they read and they are non-violent and they like cats. I tolerate other kinds of people all the time, because I live in society, but I wouldn't say that I like them, no. Where is it written that it's better to like more people, anyway? Is there some kind of prize at the end of life, some I-liked-the-most-people award?? I think not.

How serious am I about this?  (Do you really want to ask?)  Well, let's see. This all comes in the spirit of thinking about being polite. And what's polite about bothering people? Nothing. So if someone wants you to get off his lawn, metaphorical or otherwise, then maybe you should get off of it. What inspires these thoughts right now? Oh, I don't know. It's just that I'm in a very Virginia Woolf-esque phase of my life. I am writing and editing and trying to write more and sifting through and creating and embarking upon many writing projects and ideas and I am following through on creative intentions and just generally trying to do all that and yet I lack those two things, those two keys, oh yes, Virginia, the all-important wealth and a room of one's own. Constant frustration!

Is it a lack of creative space (physical) that leads to a feeling of lack of (mental/emotional) personal space that makes one crankier and more willing than ever to be annoyed by humanity in general? Talk to me, artists.

Was it the past year living in China that sent me over the edge? That is a strong candidate. China's throbbing humanity goes way beyond personal crowding and inability to walk up an escalator and crosses all the lines, right into bodily functions and wanton fluid-spewing, with an added bonus of scarcity mentality and eating of cats and dogs. It doesn't get much easier to hate humanity than living with those kind of thoughts every day.

Is humanity actually becoming more annoying? Although things like Buzzfeed, Fox News, and the misuse of the word "literally" argue strongly for the idea, I don't think this is the case. I think humanity has probably always sucked roughly the same, but it's just that the population grows, so there are fewer refuges and stuff.

And then there's the whole fact of being in the Midwest, where they have the audacity to say chatty good morning things to you before serving you your coffee...

Yes, I'm (partially) kidding. I like sarcasm and I am one of those who is greatly amused by the "How much do you hate people?" quiz. But seriously, I don't know if it's a late 30s thing or what, but lately I just more and more find myself wondering why everyone can't just be quiet once in a while. Every once in a while, don't you just want a day when you can sit around without having to acknowledge anyone's existence? Is that so much to ask?

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