Personal space – part two! Last month I wrote about the battle between the human need for personal space and privacy versus the human need for connection. I used as an example that people tend to put space between each other when choosing seats at events. Now there is a new technology forcing us to sit close to one another!
There are new types of movie theaters where moviegoers are required to choose their seat at time of purchase. It’s the same principle as assigned seats at performance theaters and sports events. If you really want that third row/center seat for your favorite summer blockbuster you can even reserve it online days ahead of time! Just be prepared to pay a small fee for that!
I really don’t know why this is a trend for the new deluxe movie theaters; I need to ask! Maybe it’s a “luxury theater” sort of thing. My local theater went through a massive renovation recently, including BarcaLounger type seats and instituted the reservation policy at the time.
I like to sit close to the screen and in the center. The first time I visited the theater my ideal spot was open, but next to some seats marked “taken.” It turned out to be an elderly couple seated in the seats to my right. (By the way, I found this fact eye opening and amusing since the movie was the final installment in The Hunger Games series. Never judge a person by their age! They just might appreciate the “Young Adult” genre!)
I was trying to figure out how to raise the BarcaLounger footrest. Observing my quandary, the woman seated next to me showed me where the button was. Already there was a positive to having someone close by for help! We had friendly conversation before the movie started, and that was that.
Since my last blog, I had another encounter at the movies. I was at the concession stand getting my indulgent popcorn bucket when the cashier asked the man in line next to me what his order was. He quickly chuckled and said, “Oh no, we’re not together!” to the cashier. He and I continued to make small talk while the cashier fetched my popcorn.
Before going to the theater section however, I decided to make a stop at the restroom (it was going to be a long movie!). Afterwards, upon entering Theater 20 and looking for my seat, I smiled to myself to see that same man seated two seats over from mine! He looked up and started laughing. “What were the odds on this?” he chuckled. It would have really been funny if he had the seat next to mine! (No, we’re really not together!) We continued our conversation about the new seating process and about the movie we were about to see.
After a while, another man came in, laden with popcorn and soda, and proceeded to sit in the seat in between me and my new friend, Robert. This made it a little difficult to have further conversation! The second man was checking his cellphone and was unconcerned about our conversation. Interestingly, he got up halfway through the movie and never came back.
When the movie was over, I said to Robert, “I wonder what happened with this guy? He even left a nearly full bag of popcorn!” Robert theorized, “Maybe he was called away for an emergency.” We’ll never know. It was interesting that there was a stranger who had intersected our circle of personal space and we had curiosity over his life and fate. We would never wonder about such things if the person had sat elsewhere.
This intersection of lives happened only because of the choices of the individuals involved. We all had wanted to sit third row and center and we did not care if there would be anyone next to us. Prior to this reservation system, we probably would have moved subtly over a seat or two.
We are an obedient species. When told to select a seat, we do so, and sit in that seat, regardless if there might be another human being next to us. Oh my goodness! What if we dared to move into another seat? Would the theater police come and arrest us?
It’s interesting how technology is bringing us closer, and we don’t seem to be minding it. I’ve only had pleasant encounters so far, and I certainly hope all future ones are pleasant! What repercussions could this new system have? Could people make new friends? Could people find their significant other? Could someone make a contact that will give them a lead on a new job? What if you are forced to sit next to someone of a demographic that perhaps you might have bad opinions about? Will you sit there in peace? Will it give you a new perspective? The possibilities are endless.
So to whomever you are who invented this new system – thank you! Thank you for bringing us closer and maybe breaking down some of the barriers between people. We all know for certain that there are plenty of people right now trying to create division and animosity, let’s not stoop to hate and fear.
Maybe the answer to world peace is – go to the movies!
Enjoy the show!