Thursday, July 15, 2010

Personal Space

Yesterday was "wing night" at Glory Days Grill.  We love wing night!  Half price Old Bay wings and a pitcher of Yuengling beer.  Delicious!  We raced home from work, picked up our two daughters at the house, and called our friends to meet us there.

It was a little crowded, but convivial, and we talked about college classes, job hunting, and our recent vacation.  All while noshing on wings, fries, salad, and crisp, cold beer.  (Except for the teenage daughters - they had sodas!)

The table next to us got up to leave and one lanky, young fellow, while walking past, reached over our table and took a french fry -- off our plate -- popped it in his mouth and grinned!  I made eye contact and he grinned at me. 

I was floored.  I didn't know how to respond.  My husband, however, stood up and roared at him: "What the h*ll do you think you're doing?"  The kid kept walking, right on out the door. Which is good, because I think my husband would have laid hands on him if he stayed for the confrontation. He was incensed.

Sadly, the Glory Days manager initially thought my husband was the problem because of the loud voice and the hard words.  It took a few minutes to get her to understand that we were only reacting.

Sadly, too, one of our daughters really took exception to her father's reaction and felt that we should have ignored the incident because, "he's just a stupid boy and that's what stupid boys DO."  Maybe his stealing a fry was his way of flirting with her.  Regardless, making a fuss embarassed her.

Well, making a fuss usually embarasses me, too, but I was appalled at this behavior.  Had I been on my own, I might have been too shocked to respond.  But I'm glad we did!  He reached over my shoulder and took food off our plate! 

On a most basic, animal level, that's a challenge - it says, "I'm the alpha - I can take your stuff."  Not responding would be the equivalent of an omega dog rolling over.  I am too much an independent woman and a feminist to sit still for that.  I am nobody's omega dog.  And nobody disses my family that way!  (And I am astounded that any daughter of mine would think that "boys being boys" is something we should overlook.  We redouble the feminist empowerment teachings tonight.)

So why post this event here?  Because SPACE MATTERS.  Personal space is either sacrosanct or society is dysfunctional.  It's that basic.  And personal space, as a concept, needs to be addressed at work, in society, and in social media just as much as we need to resolve issues of privacy.  If we do not carve some personal space into our networking areas, we risk misinterpreting too much of our communication.  At best.  At worst, we risk people.

I understand that "on the internet, no one knows you're a dog" (thank you, New Yorker!) and no one really cares whether you're male or female and that the "global village" means we're all coming from different threshholds regarding personal space.  However, this isn't a gender or ethnicity issue -- it's a power issue.  Invading someone's space takes their power.

I see this especially being played out in internet "bullying" cases.  Defaced pages, personal insults, taunts, outright lies, profanities - these intimidations, in our space, are designed to reduce - to marginalize.

I refuse to go quietly.

This is my space and I'm using it. For good, not evil.


At 4:03 PM , Blogger Poruchik said...

" these intimidations, in our space, are designed to reduce - to marginalize. "

...and at a very basic level they are just plain rude! Manners do matter-sure we all laugh at the occasional fart joke; however, respect for basic human diginity virtually and in the real world would solve so many of our current issues!

Bravo-Zulu on your post.


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