I took my personal space for a walk today. It was a beautiful day. So, when I got home from my day job, I rescued my wife’s personal space and took it to the park. She has been working from home and was desperate for some air. Tower Grove in St Louis is a beautiful park not far from us. Not within walking distance but close enough that it is our goto for park walking.
The sunny weather had driven a lot of personal spaces out of the house, many with dogs. The park was scattered with them, but by watching you could still tell that they were keeping their distance more than usual. I tend to do that anyway. I’m am not a touchy friendly person and have a personal space that is much larger than most. There was a clear sphere of space around everyone.
It got me thinking about the ‘after’ of this crisis. Even if we are all suddenly immunized for this bug, the experience of knowing that we could get deathly ill merely by being near someone must leave an impression. Yes, this has always been true, sicknesses and plagues are nothing new. But we’ve never had that fact drilled home nearly as sharply as we now have. Not many personal spaces will come out of this unchanged.
I can imagine a future where we no longer shake hands with any old willy-nilly stranger. We save that most professional of greetings for closer acquaintances or business contacts. Hugs and kisses will become fewer and more precious. Bars and clubs would not be nearly as crowded. Body-pressing will become frowned on. Etc…
Except I doubt any of those visions will happen. Humans are icky, ill-mannered, and hard to housetrain. However, I do feel us becoming less in-your-face than before. Being standoffish is okay. I respect your personal space and expect the same of mine. All personal spaces should expand a bit, be more free-range. Instead of man-spreading, we’re personal-spreading. This ain’t grand-dads personal space, know-what-I’m-sayin.
The future is cloudy and swarming with diseases and icky humans. We don’t know what, if anything, we will retain from this experience. But, yet, I am very sure my own personal space will remain large and hard to get into. I don’t invite people, even friends, into it very often. My spread will remain intact.
Space, people… Give Me Space!!