(I mean, let’s be real: they’re probably not doing what they’re doing to bother you. They probably just don’t know it bothers you – and would be apologetic, even mortified, if you just told them.)
But for some reason, smartphones make us less direct. Like, let’s talk about the #Manspreading thing.
But public shaming isn't the only -- or even best option. There are tons of ways to respond to this situation. For example:
- Politely ask him, “Is someone sitting there?” And then sit down when he moves.
- Say, “Budge up!” in your best English accent, and then plop right down, elbows blazing.
- Glare at him while you grasp the handrail for dear life and hope he notices.
- Slyly take his picture and upload it onto Twitter with a nasty remark and a hashtag.
Just think! If everyone confronted dudes who did that, they would probably stop #manspreading. The cost of manspreading (repeated, regular, and somewhat negative confrontation with strangers) would be greater than the cost of not manspreading.
This applies to other situations, too.
Like, when I’m in the middle seat and the guy on the aisle tries to take my armrest, I push his arm off – everyone knows that the person in the middle gets the armrest, so I don't even feel like I owe him a verbal explanation. When I’m at a restaurant and I’m unhappy with the service, I tell them, “____ is wrong with this. Please bring me a new one.” (You know, instead of hoping they'll magically read my mind, and then giving them zero stars on Yelp when they don't.) And when my weekend plans change, but the dogsitter doesn’t want to give my dog back… I remind him/her that this isn’t up for discussion. It’s my dog, and I make the decision.
But once in a while, I slip up… and I kind of blame my phone.
For example, earlier today, I got on an airplane -- I'm in the moose watching, national parking and high school reunion mood. Things were going fine – until the guy next to me, for whatever bizarre reason, decided to start cutting his nails.
It was unbelievably rude. And pretty disgusting.
Especially after seeing the horrible things that have happened to people like Adria Richards, Justine Sacco and Lindsey Stone after photos of them doing/saying something socially undesirable went viral on social media! I’m not sure I could really wish that on anyone. (You know, except maybe a rapist, con artist, child molester or something where people are at risk.) It's a big enough problem that Jon Ronson had to write a book, So You've Been Publicly Shamed, about it.
Okay, fine. So I won’t post his photo on the Internet... Instead, with each distinctive click of his clippers, I'll flinched, as though one of his gross-ass nails had gone rogue and hit me.
But wait! This isn’t me, either.
So finally, I just told him, “I don’t like that. Can you be done now?”
And he stopped. Before one of his gross-ass nails went rogue and hit me. Before he decided he may as well cut his toenails and trim his pubes while he was at it. Before I had to spend another second listening to that gross click, click of the clippers.
And I happily got back to work.
Now! Imagine all the men who would stop manspreading if people would just tell them, “I want to sit down. Can you move?”
“Could you move your leg over?”
“Move your briefcase. Please.”
“Is someone sitting there?”
“Don’t take this the wrong way, but I don’t really like your leg touching mine. Could you stay in your space?”
Instead of sneaking a photo of them (one they'll probably never know about) and posting it online.
And! Think of how much more pleasant the ride will be for you when you spend more time sitting, and less time passive aggressively fuming.
Want to know more? Check out The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Gif All Women Need To See IMMEDIATELY.