I do NOT like people in my personal space and I thought the rules of socially acceptable behaviour prohibit people from getting in your personal space unless you specifically invite them to do so.

I would like to know when the rules change to allow space invaders loose in society with no reprimanding or social shaming as if their behaviour is perfectly acceptable?

On two occasions in the last week I’ve been to social events (not a normal habit of mine) with almost everyone in the room being a total stranger and both times 1 or more people got really badly in my personal space and TOUCHED me without permission.  Ok the touching thing was just grabbing onto the upper part of me arm to either drag me over to talk to someone else or to prevent me moving off but still it was personal space violation.

The scariest or creepiest one was the ladies who did a pincer move on mum and I boxing us between them.  Then the skeletally thin blond grabbed the top section of my left arm in both her hands with a vice like grip and got so in my space her mouth was almost touching my ear.  When I swivelled to put my bag between us she let go of my arm with one hand so she could pry my bag out of my right hand toss it to the chair to my right and then get full frontal space invading to the point I swear her noise bumped mine.  Next tactic since I was now both terrified and panicking was to do a neat move to swing mum around and put her between me and the blond skeleton.

I suddenly found myself in an odd situation.  The blond skeleton was still gripping my upper left arm in a two handed vice like grip, which was becoming painful as she dug her long pointy nails into my flesh and twisted my arm at an odd angle to try and stay in my personal space. Mum was now wedged between blond skeleton and me and the other space invader  who had not backed away as I had expected was plastered up against my back.  Seriously I could feel the second space invaders rathe impressive set of boobs squished against my back and her breath hot on the back of my neck as she mouth breathed and huffed and puffed rather loudly behind me.  Whatever mum said to the blond skeleton worked and she dropped my arm and rapidly backed out of mums personal space. I was less nice I just picked my foot up and stomped on neck breathers foot, which worked she also rapidly hobbled off.

Sure if I know you and like you I don’t mind if you hug me, drop an arm around me for a squeeze, grab hold of my arm or hand and drag me off somewhere or play with my hair.  However for all other people I require a minimum of arms length away to feel comfortable talking to you and my preference would be a 1 to 1.5 meter perimeter at all times from all angles to really not feel threatened.

As children you learn either through being told or none verbal cues that it is NOT ok to get in peoples personal space without permission.  We teach or we used to teach kids that touching someone you don’t know well without permission was not socially acceptable behaviour.  That you can’t just run up and hug someone, grab someone, hit someone or stand to close as it’s considered both rude and possibly scary.  The flip side of that is we also teach children that people can’t just invade their personal space they have the right to say back off and don’t touch me.  Actually children are probably fare better at verbalising that  they don’t want you near them/touching them or simply screaming their lungs out (that was my preferred method of communicating my fear of space invaders as a child) to make the space invader back off.

The modern world has meant that at times you don’t have a choice you have to put up with people being in extremely close proximity to you.  For example, flying anywhere but especially long haul flights overseas means you’re stuck with lots of people in a small space with limited room.  The London Underground, Tokyo Subway, NYC Subway or most large city transport modes you find yourself packed in so tight you’re lucky if you can take a deep breath. School holidays, pre-Christmas grocery shopping or really worth it large scale sales means way to many people and not enough space. Or my personal pet hate – concerts, events or movie premieres where you stand in tightly packed cues and then either get seated in very close proximity to others or your stuck in a mosh pit environment with no room to move.  However in all these situations 99% of the human race tries very hard to create pockets of air between each other, we try not to bump people, most men try not to mansplain and we attempted to have or give the illusion of privacy by reading a book, playing games on our phones, listening to music to block out noise, closing our eyes, not making eye contact and trying to keep peronal contact to a minimum.

HOWEVER at all other times it is 100% not ok to get in someones personal space and I personally am starting to get really sick to death of it.   Next time I go somewhere and get attached by a Space Invader I might just revert to my 2 year old method of dealing with this and start screaming at the top of my lungs till they back off to an acceptable distance.

Advertisements