Monday, July 11, 2011

An Open Letter to People I Don't Know

Dear People I Don't Know:

The total pointlessness of open letters notwithstanding, this is probably my best chance at reaching you guys, so I may as well give it a shot. There's something I've been wanting to tell you all for years now, but I didn't quite have the words. Well, now I do, and the words are these:

Please leave me alone.

I don't want to talk to you. I don't want to discuss the weather, or when the next bus might be arriving, or what I'm wearing. I don't want to say "hi" to you or answer your inquiries about where I'm going. I am certainly not going to tell you my name or where I live. Please, just don't talk to me.

I'm not sure why this has been such a problem. I could understand if I were just standing around looking bored, but I'm not. I'm reading, jogging, and talking on the phone. I'm listening to music, playing sudoku, and buying groceries. I'm on my laptop, writing, and drinking coffee. I am not wearing a giant "please come talk to me" sign whilst engaged in any of these activities.

I've tried to send you guys signals. Really, I have. I do my best to appear unapproachable, but if I frown, you tell me to smile. I try to look busy, but if I read, you ask me what I'm reading. Ok, here's your answer: nothing now that you interrupted me, asshole.

There was a time, not too long ago, when this kind of behavior might have been appropriate. Unexpectedly fruitful conversations with strangers helped me tolerate many an interminable transcontinental flight, back in the day. But that was the day before iPhones and personal seat-back entertainment systems and Kindles. That was before we had electrical outlets and wifi as well as snakes on planes. That was when I had already finished the one book I could squeeze into my carry-on and my walk-man had run out of batteries and I literally had nothing better to do than talk to you.

Modern technology has enabled us to be constantly either entertained or productive or both. It's allowed us to go through life literally paying attention to only the things we want to pay attention to. It's given us each our own, private universe to float around it, interacting with others only when we choose.

Random people: you are no longer needed. You are redundant. Unnecessary. Intrusive. You must go the way of the buggy whip maker. Structural unemployment's a bitch, but there you are.

Please, please, please leave me alone. I don't care if you have a really important petition you want me to sign. I don't care if you like my somethingorother. The headphones are in to keep you out. Unless I'm about to get hit by a bus, bugger off.

And just to be clear, emergencies are actual, life-or-property-threatening situations. Me sleeping on the floor at an airport is not an emergency. That is normal airport behavior. That situation does not require you to wake me up to ask if I am okay. Ditto if you find me crying in the bathroom. Are you my bff? No. So for what possible reason would I talk to you about whatever's troubling me? The whole point of coming in here is to be left alone. Why are these things so hard for you to understand, people in the South? Why won't you leave me alone?!


Please, I beg you, on behalf of personal bubbles everywhere: leave us alone.

Thanks in advance,

S. Misanthrope

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