Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Personal Space

Once upon a time people were considerate of others’ personal space. I’m old enough to remember those days.  Perhaps today’s “it’s all about me” mind-set is partially the result of the very technology I’m using to write and post this and especially social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter.  Population growth and prosperity are equally responsible, everyone “fighting” for space.

And by personal space I mean the right to enjoy life without the in-your-face encroachment of someone else’s lifestyle. I love Sondheim’s music, but don’t think I should “broadcast” that love affair at ungodly decibels in public places.  How many times have you been at a stop light and a car pulls up in the other lane with its stereo blasting a base so loud it vibrates your car?  It’s even worse at the beach as it is prolonged. You’ve already planted yourself under an umbrella, only to be accosted for the rest of your stay unless you move.  Or even while you are trying to enjoy a quiet dinner at home, hearing a neighbor’s woofer banging out what now passes as “music.”

I’ll put this under my audio effrontery section: robocalls. The one I love is the automated, breathless but recorded message, that happily announces that I’ve been chosen (one of the select few : - ) to be eligible to have my debt consolidated, please hold on for a representative.  A few times I’ve actually held, trying to get the name of the company.  Call recognition doesn’t work for those calls and if it did, reporting it to Do Not Call seems to do nothing. They simply rotate their phone number (or use Skype). Political and charity calls are exempted from Do Not Call and during political season it’s a free for all invasion of your telephone line and your private time.

Probably one of the main reasons we rarely go to the movies now are the bombastic, extra-loud trailers that you are forced to sit through.  One also has to contend with people checking cell phones, texting during the film, those phones glowing in the dark or ringing their owners’ favorite melodies.   Or, the people nearby talking “huh, what did he say?”

While one’s audio senses are being increasingly assaulted, so are one’s olfactory rights.  Yes, there are much more stringent laws governing smoking, but few apply to outdoors.  A particular bête noire are cigars which seem to defy the laws of being “upwind” of that particular kind of smoke.  Cigars simply stink 360 degrees.  Stay at home and smoke that stogie, or go to a cigar bar.

Air travel has taken the loss of personal space to still another level.  After being required to partially disrobe with your fellow passengers, you board an aircraft only to find you are sitting behind someone who immediately reclines his/her seat – to its fullest extent -- for a lengthy flight, leaving you with the rear of the seat in your face and the tray table in your gut.  We’re told that common sense etiquette should prevail.  Ha, in this day and age.  Recently a number of flights had to be diverted because of unruly passengers duking it out over this issue, one person even carrying a “knee defender” device which prevented any reclining of the seat in front.

A friend of mine was seated behind a lady with very long hair and as he tried to eat what now passes as a meal on an aircraft, she decided to recline her seat, but did not want to rest her head on her precious hair so she flipped all of her hair up and over her headrest and directly into his dinner!  Welcome to 21st century air travel!

Then, the coup de grâce:  Are we ready for the implications of what Amazon, Google and even Domino's Pizza are testing? -- drones to deliver “goods.”  With GPS technology they could be spaced only feet apart, why not?  There goes our entitlement to viewing a serene sunset, a conga line of drones going by, delivering the essentials of life such as pizzas, dog food, and might as well throw in cigars and boom boxes as well!   We of the “me” mentality must have what we want immediately when we want it! 

Probably I will not be around to witness the ultimate battle of the drones.  And no doubt, as I age I am more sensitive to all these issues, feeling increasingly powerless to do anything about individual incidents. And down here in Florida, people pack pistols, so you might get shot by asking someone to refrain from some of the things I’ve mentioned.  There is no Department of Common Decency and Consideration to complain to and even if there was, let’s face it, nothing would be done.