Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Elevator Etiquette

I think it's time we come back to one of my train ride adventures, well more like train rides in general. I have noticed that unless you are a group of school children people are very quiet on the train. There aren't any rules against talking on the train, nothing would happen if you did and it doesn't hurt anyone. Yet if you do start talking, whether it be for a phone call or to hit on the cute person sitting next to you, the rest of the train will stare you down until you are quiet again. In general people have found ways around talking on the train, for example reading the news paper or listening to a music device.
If we travel internationally trains get even quieter. If you compare Australia's train goers to London's or Japan's then you'll find Australia is actually the loudest.
But why? Why are we so concerned about being silent on a train? Do we do this because we are polite and respectful people? It is doubtful that there isn't a single person who has rude or annoying tendencies, yet when put into a compressed place these people (mostly) all become the same. 
Trains aren't the only place that this happens. Elevators are an even bigger contributor to the forced awkward silence. It would appear that the smaller the space the quieter and more awkward the people in the space become. It even extends to the point where conversations completely end when entering the elevator. For those old enough to have seen the movie Borat you will remember the elevator scene. For those of you who are to young or found Borat too gross I'll give you a quick run down of the scene. In this scene, Borat and his producer are having a physical conflict. They also happen to be naked. This conflict is carried to an elevator where, upon entering, they fell completely silent and stood completely still. Although these men were actors it helps to highlight the ridiculousness of elevator etiquette.
Yet no one seems to know why we are so quiet when forced into a small space. There are some people out there who like to cling to the thought that there is some goodness still left in humanity and we fall silent based on a mutual respect towards each other. I'm skeptical of this, I find it hard to believe humans can be this respectful on a whole. Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of good people out there, just not everyone. I believe we fall into this silence because of a fear of being embarrassed. We are scared that people will judge what we say or do. It becomes easier to stay quiet, to conform to the social standards that are laid out before us when facing a confined space. But if you aren't one of those school children who sit in a pack on the train talking about how hot a girl is or how much you're going to drink this weekend, maybe you should conform just a little bit. Because the rest of us don't want to hear what you have to say. 

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