The guy next to me

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This is the hand of the man next to me in a crowded coffee shop.

He is Skyping (or Facetiming) with someone, and the conversation is on speaker for all of us to hear.

Can someone explain the thinking here? Please, explain. You’re in a place with other people. Lots of other people. We’re eating, sitting, talking, drinking, chatting, studying. And now we’re catching every word of your chat with Steve.


I’m being serious—why? This happens all the time, and I don’t get the social numbness. It seems like such an obvious one, no? If you’re on your cell phone in a public place, speak quietly. Hold it to your ear. No speaker.

What am I missing?

2 thoughts on “The guy next to me”

  1. You are missing nothing. I don’t want to go all “back in my day,” but for a number of reasons the concepts of private and public space have become blurred. This, combined with a loosening of traditional “shame” taboos, has resulted in a narcissistic indifference to the discomfort of others in public spaces. This is of a piece with people’s pathological need to share publicly ever tawdry aspect of their lives. What bothers me most is that this kind of intrusive behavior is usually no longer a deliberate break with social norms, but increasingly normative social behavior.

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