Personal Space


In the past 10 years, these networks in the human cerebral cortex have been linked to social behavior. They coordinate the unconscious, hidden dance of personal space, computing a margin of safety and nuancing our movements and reactions to others. The mechanism works so smoothly that we don’t usually notice it. Just like ants instinctively feel each other with their antennae to communicate and maintain the larger social order, so we rub personal buffer zones and exchange information at a deep, unconscious level.

As social life migrates online, the old social scaffold of physical space around a human body becomes less relevant. Twitter, Facebook, and texting are lifted out of the face-to-face, spatial framework. Instead, we interact as formless entities, bundles of information in a domain with no Euclidean distance metric. Not all online interactions lose their spatial scaffold—immersive video games maintain a sense of space and distance—but many people now spend an appreciable part of the day in a cyberspace with no real, face-to-face interactions. The human social dance is being restructured at a fundamental level.

The distance you keep from others is an elaborate, instinctive dance.
— Read on

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