Sociology

The need for Personal Space



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From time to time,on Saturday mornings, I like to go grocery shopping. I go to the store early to avoid the crowds. All of us, I am sure, know how busy Wal-Mart can be. I am also sure I'm not the only one who truly hates it. It is dreadful enough that I have to go in the first place, but please, people stop crowding me! Sometimes, I feel they just can't build a Wal-Mart big enough. At the same time, though, I have a conflicting thought that Wal-Mart is just too big. My personal space gets invaded all the time, thus causing me to write this article explaining personal space, the different categories, and their meaning.

Each of us surrounds ourselves with a personal space, a bubble, if you will. We go to great lengths to protect this bubble. We open the bubble to close friends, children and parents. But we are cautious to keep most people out of this space. When we stand in lines, for example, we make certain there is enough room so we don't touch the person in front of us and we aren't touched by the person behind us.

For your reading pleasure, there are four distinctive bubbles we build, formed for certain events in our lives.
The first bubble is Intimate. This encompasses about 18 inches from our bodies; it is reserved for lovemaking, comforting and defending.
The second bubble is Personal. This one extends 18 inches to 4 feet;it is reserved for friends and conversation.
The third bubble is Social. This ranges from around 4 feet to 12 feet, usually for formal relationships, or job interviews.
The fourth bubble is Public. This one extends up to 12 feet or more; it is used for being around dignitaries, or a more formal setting, or for public speaking.

Of course, I am laughing as I write this, because I do think it is a little comical, but let it be known, I am one who uses the bubbles. If I'm close to you, I will invite you into my space, otherwise, it would be nice to not feel so crowded. Take this as fair warning: I consider it an infringement of my space when the shopping cart gets jammed into my heel. I might smack you with my purse! And when you reach around me at the checkout to peer at the next catastrophic headline on the tabloids, please remember to stay out of my bubble. Better yet, stay inside your own bubble.

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