Spacial Awareness

Don’t Get Too Close…..


There is an old adage that you are never further than six foot away from a rat, most of them rodents.This has been dispelled as it was based on guesstimates and it has been shown that it is probably more realistically around one hundred and sixty feet, nowhere near as exciting a prospect.

However, how far are you ever from the nearest human being?

In a City, Greater London for example, it is probably around one hundred feet which goes some way to explaining why urban life is becoming so intolerable and we’re all slowly going barking mad.

If you commute by public transport and it is packed to the rafters with weird smelly twitchy strangers, researchers have found you begin to treat your fellow travelers as inanimate, as a way of coping with an intrusion that you have no control over.


Personal Space is just that, personal, and hence is highly variable, but in Western culture an average of two feet, or an arms length is considered the norm. While your intimate space, reserved for your partner, family, etc is considered to be around twelve to eighteen inches. Countries such as India and Japan have a far lower expectation of personal space and it is highly likely many Western cities are heading the same way due to over population.

As a result to such invasion of our space we have taken to creating ways of preserving our own inner world while out in public.Headphones, laptops, mobile phones are just a few examples of the ways we exclude unwanted intrusion.

Is there a long term effect to all this?

Quite frankly, no one knows. It has been proven that the Internet is making us all more narcissistic. In the U.S the increase is at least 20% every year and the rest of the world aint that far behind. The ‘look at me’ syndrome does have a knock on effect as it subconsciously increases our expectation of how the public see us. Therefore our ‘right’ to personal space increases. This equation may explain why, for example, when you are walking down the street and the person texting on their phone walking towards you tuts at you not getting out of their way, you are considered the one at fault.


As the human race continues to expand equally we are becoming more insular. We have less need to go out of our front doors. We can bring the world to us via all sorts of devices. This isn’t wrong, it’s called evolution, but it does mean our expectation of personal space is under review.

In the ‘real world’ we can apply our own boundaries on what is personal space but on the web, if you use a cam, the boundaries alter, you, your room, what is in it, all become your personal space, and turning the damn cam off is the only control you have. The same can be said of what is written on a social website, in reality you have little recourse over what goes on.

Personal space is a sliding scale and that’s fine, just make sure it slides in your favour for as long as possible………….. cos it wont be around too much longer….

Choose yer words wisely,

 Abe & the Elum

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