Photo: Skyler Ash

Maintaining your personal space 101

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By Skyler Ash

My older sister always said, “If I can kick you, you’re too close,” and if I got too close, she would kick me. Needless to say, I learned really fast to give people their personal space – it’s just polite. And she kicks hard, like, really hard. Soon I realized how nice it is to have space — and how much I hate other people being near me.

There are three places where the mere proximity is just too much: on public transit, at the library and at the movies. I’ve devised a number of ways to avoid being near other people so that you never have to make human contact again.

On public transit: My train commute is 40 minutes each way and I don’t want anybody near me after a long day. The trick to sitting alone is to look as tired and pissed off as possible. Nobody wants to sit near a tired, sweaty, angry teenager. Move your bag slightly out from under your chair so it would obstruct somebody from sitting across from you — people hate asking you to move stuff for them. And remember, weird works. The other day I took out a needle and thread to sew up some holes in my coat pocket, and people avoided me like the plague. There’s something to be said for sharp objects as a people-deterrent.

In the library: If I’m in the library, I’m busy. Don’t sit near me and slurp your Starbucks while texting everyone in your contacts list and listening to loud music. Even if you are studying, just don’t sit with me — chances are I’m seconds away from a mental breakdown, so stay away. The best way to keep other humans at bay is to spread your stuff out at a table, and look frantic. Every minute or so, rake your hands through your hair while flipping furiously through a couple of pages of your nearest textbook. Also, just glance around nervously every once in a while drinking a lot of water — hydration and nerves freak people out.

At the movies: Don’t sit next to me at the movies unless there are no other seats (and maybe not even then). Seriously, just don’t. It’s dark, I’m trying to eat popcorn and enjoy the movie, and unless we came to the movies together, don’t sit beside me. I like a one-to-two seat radius around me on all sides. An effective way to maintain this barrier is to talk a lot and loudly before the movie starts. Pull out your phone, chew with your mouth open, and just be disgusting — embrace your inner five year old. Moviegoers don’t want to sit next to an annoying person for two hours and neither do you.

Although these methods are effective, the best way to avoid people getting up in your personal space is to just stay inside. Stay in your room, curl up in some cozy blankets and watch TV on your laptop. Nobody respects your personal space more than Netflix does.

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