Sunday, July 5, 2009

Personal Space: Are We Too Touchy?

Personal Space: Are We Too Touchy?

It's not easy being a private person in a hugger's world. Wall Street Journal writer Elizabeth Bernstein is, apparently, a "touch-ee": quite against her will, she's constantly being hugged, nudged, patted, high-fived and stroked by her coworkers.
"You're so friendly," said one. "You're always stressed," said another. "You're self-deprecating, and I want to give you a boost," said a third. "You're short," a close friend said.
Although the touching is platonic, it makes Bernstein uncomfortable, and she asks, why is this okay?
It's a weird irony that, even as sexual harassment policies have gotten stricter and more ubiquitous, the rules of personal space have become more lax. Whereas a generation ago no one would have gone beyond a businesslike handshake (unless, I guess, they were having a pre-sexual harassment policy affair), nowadays hugging, sympathetic pats and slaps on the back are commonplace. And it's tricky because, where some people are vigilant about personal space, others see touching as a natural way to express warmth and sympathy. And rejecting a friendly touch is rude.

Yes! For the love of dammit, I hate this!

I hate people thinking that just because they see, they can touch. I hate people thinking that me having boundaries is something I need to "get over." Newsflash, people. The fact that you want to grab me and I don't like it is not something that I need to get over. Get the hell over yourself and your perceived entitlement to engulfing me in your giant midwestern breasts.

1 comment:

The Humanihilsocialist said...

I don't know if I can agree with the generalizations of that piece. That personal space rules are slackening.

I think of cases in schools when children are reprimanded for hugs and pats on the back and the like. I know one of the schools in my home town banned hugging among the students.

What do you make of that?