Friday, September 4, 2009

Space Invaders

No, I am not talking about an ancient video game or Sci-Fi novel. I'm talking about individuals, who, for some reason, gravitate towards lonely people. These are gregarious, talkative, social people who honestly feel that if you are sitting alone, you are lonely. They assume that any right minded person craves social interaction. They see the poor pitiful soul sitting there all alone and they decide, right then and there, that they shall brighten up your world. They volunteer their presence so you will not feel like an out cast. To be fair, they crave the interaction as much as they think you do. They have plenty to say and it would be just plain weird to say it to no one. So, here you are. You found that perfect spot, away from the crowds, where you intend to sit. You may be waiting for someone or just killing time. You purposely chose this spot because of its seclusion. You may be at an amusement park waiting for your family to get off a ride. You may be on a lunch break. Oh the sweet serenity where you can gather your thoughts. You may be getting ready to pull out that book you've been reading. You've waited all day to get back to it. You silently congratulate yourself for finding a fine spot in which to exist, if only for a little while. As an added bonus you find a spot near a tree or better yet, a wall. One less personal access point, you sigh contentedly. You note that there are plenty of places for newcomers to sit, away from you. Since most people do not usually like to sit in too close proximity to someone else, you're pretty much guaranteed solitude.
Then it happens. You notice out of the corner of your eye that someone is looking in your direction. Then, they start walking toward you. You make a point to look at your phone or bag, anything to avoid eye contact. Then, oh dear lord, no! They sit right next to you despite the sea of unoccupied spaces far away from you. You mentally go over a list of inconspicuous exits you can make without insulting the intruder. For the love of god, you were just about to grab your book. You were so close. Now it would look like you obviously were trying to avoid this person. So? Does it matter you ask yourself? Noooooo, you wasted too much time thinking...Now the invader speaks to you! I know, I'll feign deafness. No, that would be too obvious. OK, I'll answer their question to be polite and then act like I have to go.
"Yes, it sure is nice weather", you respond. Nooooo, another question!
"I have a dog." You silently berate yourself for not saying that you hate animals or that you are allergic to them or anything that would cause this person to get up and leave. Too late, you're engaged in conversation! You pray for a cell phone call, an alien abduction or your family to return, anything but this time wasting conversation. Its not like you're anti-social or anything. You just looked so forward to this personal time out.
I searched a bit on the topic. To my horrors I discovered that those who are advisers are telling people to invade other people's space! They mean well, really they do. But, they fail to take into account that its OK to be alone sometimes. It doesn't necessarily mean anything negative. Why do the occasional loners get singled out as sad, pathetic people in need of companionship? Sometimes they are labeled as shy or worse yet, stuck up. When seeking a place to wait, size up the situation for yourself. Don't always do what other people tell you. You might just pick out some crazy person to sit next to. I won't go into the many scenarios that could ensue there. To be fair, there are those who want companionship in open spaces. The shy ones who seek companionship usually send out clear signals. They have no book to read, they make eye contact (even if they do look down immediately) or they sit rather close to occupied spaces. Even loners know that in a group situation like a sporting event or school activity, sitting alone is not usually an option. The loners know this and accept it. No one wants to be alone 100% of the time. OK, some do but they tend to be in a whole category by themselves.
Remember, people, when you are approaching a potential seat, don't pick out the person who obviously chose a seat way away from the crowd. They aren't necessarily lonely. In fact, their seat choice may be strategic. If there are many people around, yet this one person sits alone, there's a reason for this! Be kind and take pity on the, not necessarily lonely individual by choosing your own idealistic spot, way away from the loner. Thank you for your support.


Jen said...

I like talking to people. I never sit next to people by themselves unless there is no other spot.

Ben said...

What about airplanes? You're stuck by someone. God forbid they try to talk through the whole flight!