On Train Rides and Social Media…

I’m being a terrible person right now.

I’m on a train back to New York City with one perfectly empty seat next to mine, and I’ve filled it with my bags and coat and scarf. And as people come walking down the aisle looking for a seat, I don’t stop looking at my computer. Oh, and my headphones are in, listening to Grouplove’s “Itchin’ on a Photograph,” pretending to be a really important person whose stuff is worthy of its own seat. How bad do you want that seat next to mine? Enough to speak to me? Enough to tap my shoulder as Christian Zucconi screams into my ears? I dare you. Be warned, the icy stare you receive at interrupting my jam sesh may turn you to stone.

C’mon people, I live in New York City! My personal space is invaded on a daily basis without so much as an “excuse me.” PLEASE let me have these two and a half hours to sprawl in a space that doesn’t cost me over $1000 a month in rent.

The funny part of all this? Most people won’t bother to interrupt me. Ooooh that girl has headphones in…so I would like, have to talk to her? Do you know her number so I could text her? Send her an email? Anything aside from uttering a few words?

Why are we all so scared of interacting? I’ll admit in a work setting I’ll send an email to someone before giving them a call, but that’s because I assume they’re hard at work and would hate to be interrupted by a phone call. But if I see a space on a subway train that could be occupied by me, I say things like, “Excuse me, can I please go through here?”

The best example of this that I saw was at the gym last week. I go to a women-only gym, not by choice, but because that’s where I got a free membership. I’m not intimidated to work out around guys. Yeah, the screaming and grunting while they get their swell on is obnoxious, but it’s also hilarious. And I love showing them that you CAN lift a heavy weight without turning into the Hulk. I’m also waiting for the day that they realize if you have to scream to lift it, then you’re not ready for it. Ya heard?

Anyway, all the lockers were filled by the time I got to the gym – there was a large class in session, it happens – so I got changed while waiting and watched for people coming back to take their stuff out. I was the only one who ventured to ask people if they were done with their lockers, and guess who got a locker before everyone else meandering around with bitch faces on? Yup, me. The others were ready to battle to the death the minute a locker became available (I know this because one girl just about pounced on the one I was about to take AFTER I ASKED THE WOMAN IF SHE WAS DONE and exchanged in some friendly banter), rather than asking one question. Are we really that impersonal now?

Even as an introvert, I find this weird. I’m able to hold off on texting someone until I’m done walking, but others have their faces buried SO deep in their phones that I’m pretty sure they’re attached. Plus, have you tried to have a full conversation via text? It’s the worst thing ever. Pick up the freaking phone and use it for its primary function.

This also has limits. Are you on a train with hundred of other people that are likely uninterested in your discussion? Then it’s probably not a great time to have it. Are both of your hands free and available while walking around a department store but you’ve decided to use speakerphone? I hope you love furrowed brows in your direction, and I really hope you’re not getting personal health information from your doctor right now. Sound far-fetched? Nope, I’ve lived this. We’re so impersonal when we need to have a one-on-one face-to-face conversation, but give us a few hundred miles space or the biggest public forum of all time – the Internet – and we’ll spill it ALL!

Let’s look at Facebook, shall we? Remember away messages? Those things you used to tell people why you weren’t currently there speaking with them via IM? Probably ok to give a run down of your day in case someone needs to ask you an important question and that’s the only way they can get in touch with you. But no one needs to see that on Facebook. Knowing that you’ve got to do laundry, homework, catch up on Breaking Bad, make dinner, then head to bed for an early day tomorrow does nothing for me or you. It’s not even witty. Please, if you’re going to tell me something unbelievably boring, throw in some wit! Facebook status also shouldn’t be used as pity parties. Don’t give me crap like, “Why can’t something go right just for once?” or – the worst – “Sigh…” I promise I will not say “ZOMG WHAT’S WRONG?!?!” But I will think you’re a huge tool.

Are you having a bad day? Don’t try to make me feel bad for you, and at the same time, don’t tell me something incredibly personal that you wouldn’t say in front of a group of people.

No one seems to remember that social networks are public and that unless you’ve spent a good amount of time twerkin’ your privacy settings, we’re all going to see everything. You know a good way to keep yourself in check? Become Facebook friends with your parents, aunts and uncles. Would you say that in front of them? No? You wouldn’t tell them that you got soooooo high last night and woke up in an unfamiliar place? You wouldn’t say f*** the police ima do what I want? Then don’t say it on Facebook!

Update: just made it through round two of new passengers. I’m a little too good at this…and for the record, if they asked if someone was sitting here, I would tell them no and move my stuff.

I know I preach to the choir when it comes to my rants on social interaction. Most people I’m close with believe these same things, and perhaps that’s why we’re so close, because we actually pick up the phone to say “Happy birthday” or we ask them to hang out if we need to work out a personal problem. Not that there’s anything wrong with a wall post here and there. I do enjoy those especially if it involves some somewhat-inside joke that others can get a good laugh from.

I just wish people would take a step outside themselves and realize how ridiculous they’re being. I have to do it from time to time. If I get stuck in a really horrible funk, I take a step back and think about the amazing people in my life, my fantastic job, the fact that I live in a city people are dying to even visit, and that puts it all in perspective for me. I also THINK about what I post on social networks before I actually hit that “Post” button…

Don’t worry, I just took a step back now and laughed at my raving self. Life is so much harder if you take yourself too seriously.

Also, I made it through this entire train ride without having to move my stuff. Bri: 1, World: 0.

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