A while back, I posted I Got A Smartphone and it Instantly Made Me Less Cool. The TL;DR is that mindfulness is the key to happiness. Every single day – every trip to the grocery store, every traffic jam – can be an adventure with the right set of eyes.
Because when you're out shopping and you see a pile of carpets, you can either keep walking... or hop on it with your partner and sing an a cappella version of "A Whole New World."
Smartphones take us out of the present. They make us less mindful. They prevent us from engaging with the people around us. (Which prevents us from meeting new people and having crazy, unexpected adventures – read more.) But another unfortunate side effect of smartphones… is that they make us passive aggressive little assholes.
For example. I consider myself to be pretty direct. I’m all about consent. If someone does something that bothers me, I don’t assume that they can magically read my mind and adjust their behavior – I tell them, so they know.
(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.
Anonymous posters everywhere have taken to posting photos of men taking up too much room on buses and trains on Tumblr blogs, Twitter, Facebook and other social media channels. And yes, it sucks that men often take up waaaay more than their share of room on public transportation.
But public shaming isn't the only -- or even best option. There are tons of ways to respond to this situation. For example:
Is there any good reason not to pick 1 or 2? Even if he’s got headphones on or seems to be asleep… you're not the one who's being rude in this situation. He is! And chances are, he doesn't even realize it. (Welcome to the new age of self-centeredness.) So tell him! Unless he seems dangerous, give him a nudge and ask him to move.
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.
Oddly, my gut response wasn’t to tell him to stop. It was to take his picture and post it on Twitter with a mean comment. Sure, the feeling was fleeting, but still. WTF, Eva? Why would I even think that?
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.
About the Author
Eva is a content specialist with a passion for play, travel... and a little bit of girl power. Read more >
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