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View Diary: Just Don't Do This While Flying, OK? (222 comments)

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  •  regarding #11, I will absolutely start a (4+ / 0-)

    conversation with that person who has headphones on--and I always do.  I have no way of knowing (nor do I care) how that person might feel about the interaction (and neither does the seatmate, usually).

    Could turn into something fascinating.  Could turn into the discussion of a lifetime.  Could turn into a marriage.  Could turn into a card game.   Could turn into a new group of friends or joining a new club.  To be honest (and not-just-a-little egotistical), I'm more interesting than anyone's pair of headphones :)  And if you don't feel that way, I'm also socially aware enough to recognize when you're not into the conversation, and you're welcome to put the headphones back on--in which case I'll shut up (and probably put on my own headphones)

    But then again, I regularly talk to people on subways, elevators, and other places where people aren't supposed to interact with each other as per social convention.  It opens up worlds.

    (with you on the seat kicking though).

    •  Why? (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      eztempo, grover, RiveroftheWest

      Seriously, during taxiing and takeoff, they will have the headphones off, so that seems like the time to strike up a conversation.

      Political Compass: -6.75, -3.08

      by TexasTom on Mon Oct 21, 2013 at 02:10:40 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  well sure. I was just referring to our usual (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        RiveroftheWest

        social protocol of not being allowed to talk to someone 'otherwise engaged' which often-times is completely ludicrous.  But still there are lots of people who have their headphones on for half an hour while they're waiting to take off, etc.  I don't treat that as a barrier--it's just a convention to have phones on.  If someone really doesn't want to interact, I'm happy to take the hint.

    •  The problem is that you would annoy me (9+ / 0-)

      But I would be too polite to let on at first, and then you would think I really did want to talk to you. I figure if someone is reading a book or listening to music they have 1) made a choice and 2) made it evident that they have made a choice.

      •  We HAVE made a choice (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        TheOrchid, doct, grover, JosephK74

        But some of us are too polite to be rude and unpleasant so we respond to the talker.  But we thought breaking out the ear phones and/or the book was a pretty good sign that we had a plan for our attention (and it did not involve talking to the person next to us).  But again, I would never be rude to the talker, and the talker would never know I was internally irritated.  Being rude and mean is just not an option for me.   I always recall the story of Romney not wanting to talk to the woman sitting next to him on the plane...  One makes choices but one also chooses not to be an ass.

        I vote Democratic because I am a woman with self-respect , who rejects bigotry of all kinds, subscribes to science, believes in universal health care, embraces unions, and endorses smart internationalist foreign policy. Twitter: @HawaiiDelilah

        by Delilah on Mon Oct 21, 2013 at 11:50:39 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  it's actually quite easy to sense if someone is (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Amber6541, dotdash2u, gustynpip

          internally irritated if you're an intuitive person (which I am).  

          My point is, if I get on a plane, I will make it a point to see who is sitting next to me, and if they might be interesting, no matter what the barrier might happen to be.  They're not going to die from the minute or so they might engage with me--and there's a (highly likely) chance that that interaction will end up turning into a lively point of departure for a really fun flight.  Does that always happen?  No, of course not--but it happens often enough for me to risk the slight possibility of someone being slightly annoyed for 30 seconds.  In other words--the potential reward for taking a slight social risk outweighs that risk by orders of magnitude.  

          •  Perhaps you should think of this... (6+ / 0-)

            slightly differently. You are arguing that the potential reward for YOU outweighs the risk and annoyance for the OTHER person.  You are saying that the possibility that you will be entertained is more important to you than the possibility someone else will be disturbed.  Don't you think that's a bit selfish?

            If people look bored and have nothing going on, that's one thing, but if you purposely impose yourself onto people who have indicated using known markers (headphones, books) that they don't desire interaction, that's simply rude. Of course it won't kill them, but that's not the point.

            Social rules exist to allow us to live together peacefully. People who violate those rules make the world less peaceful for those of us who just want to be left in peace.

            •  I think the last term anyone would ever use (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              gustynpip

              to define me is 'rude'.

              This notion that headphones and other such devices are tools to keep the world out is a modern construct--and it's an awful one.  It's why people hardly interact anymore.  It's why people are afraid of each other.  It's where the whole  notion of the atomized or fractured community comes from.

              The way I see it is like this:  I have one life--that's it--one.  There's a very good chance that if I take a couple of social risks and say 'hell, I'm going to talk to that person and see what happens', that something phenomenal will come of it.  How do I know this? Because that has been my experience countless times.  Most of my friends have resulted from me initiating interactions in situations where most people probably woudnl't have.  And most of these friends (and some girlfriends) have basically said something like 'Hey--I thought it was cool that you took a risk and talked.'

              It's not 'rudeness'.

              •  I suppose rudeness (5+ / 0-)

                is in the eye of the beholder. I'm sure that your philosophy is lovely and life affirming, and you clearly see human interactions in the best possible light, which is great, but my point is that not everyone is a people-person, and not everyone sees tools to keep out the world as "awful." Many people, myself included, find such tools as just that, tools, and ones that allow us to interact in society with minimal stress and disagreeableness. It's what allows us to live in an overcrowded, urbanized world, rather than retreat to the woods. You see an atomized and fractured community because people don't want to deal with you imposing yourself on them on a plane, and I see a well-functioning and ordered society where those who are trapped in a flying tin can, jammed in cheek by jowl with people they don't know, are able to survive with the least amount of pain possible.

                •  I, the antisocial, hate to talk to anyone who I'm (6+ / 0-)

                  not certain is going to be a lifelong friend, am going to weigh in here against you and on bevenro's side.

                  Not everyone who has a book or earphones have them to send a signal that they will be offended by a friendly, interesting person talking to them.  Sometimes they have them to relieve the boredom they anticipate they'll experience because it's likely they will have nothing to do during the flight.  So many people with books and earphones will actually appreciate a good conversation.

                  Furthermore, opening your mind - and your heart - a little can open up your life.  I really and truly have no desire to get to know more people or to make more friends.  However, people around me do, and I've noticed they enjoy their travels more than I do.  They recount the interesting people they've met and the things they've learned from their various conversations.  At times, they've made contacts that have served them well in life.  As a result, I've worked at forcing myself to be a bit more open, and I've found it actually enhances life.  And actually doesn't hurt me at all.  Whatever I would have read or listened to is still there after the conversation ends and I haven't missed anything.  Had I missed the conversation, however, I might well have missed something.

                  I'll never look forward to talking to strangers and it will always be an effort, with an initial tinge of irritation that my perfect little plan for shutting out the hubbub around me has gone astray.  But if I just let that roll over me, I am now generally grateful for those who take the initiative and push for a little pleasant social interaction.

                  Perhaps one of the best influences on me was a secretary years ago who was very outgoing.  We'd get into a crowded elevator and by the time we reached our floor, she'd have everyone in that elevator talking and laughing like old friends.  She had a talent that I wish I and more people had.

                  •  awesome post, gnp. I will let you in on a secret (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    lissablack, gustynpip

                    This has been an enormous struggle for me to become the kind of person I've been talking about in these posts here--

                    I realized about 5 years ago that interesting things weren't happening to me because I had immense difficulty interacting with people who weren't already close acquaintances, so I resolved to change it.  It is hard as hell.  And even harder when conventional wisdom says the kind of things I'm reading in all of these responses to me.

                    I'm not where I want to be yet (it is still often very difficult for me to initiate these sorts of things)  but it has done wonders for my life in general.  I'm just sorry that more people can't see recognize it for the positive potential rather than just the chance that you might be rude for 20 seconds...

                •  I find these posts depressing. (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  lissablack

                  Look at the negativity that underlies the last 2/3 of the comment.  Just because some people may choose to go through life like that, why should I?  I tend to see positive as better than negative.  So if there is a chance of something good happening from an interaction (versus the 20 seconds of maybe an awkward silence, at worst if the conversation doesn't work) why on earth would I let the negative impulses rule?

                  It's not rude to talk to someone--whether or not they have a book or a radio or a tv or headphones.  What IS rude is keeping something up if it obvious that they want nothign to do with you.  But  that isn't the case with headphones--all those are are a social convention.  People are often more than happy  to put them away if something different comes along.

                  Always?  Of course not.  But I can't know this.  If I don't give it a shot, then all I can say is that nothing interesting happened--and maybe I will look back and wish I had tried.

              •  You don't fly a ton, do you? (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Delilah, mjdzgif, cassandracarolina

                When you're flying several times a week (or more)  --and many if them are long-haul flights -- you might see the world a little differently.

                Part of whether someone is rude is that wonderful trait we call "empathy:" taking off my shoes and stepping into yours.

                I've set down my book and re-packed up my laptop because I could see my seatmate was a terrified flyer, or a lonely senior citizen off to visit grandchildren she hardly knew. I'm aware of the people around me. I chatted with them all flight, and even walked them down to baggage to ensure they got where they needed to go.

                But in return, I expect a little empathy from people who simply think that being jammed in an aluminum tube flying through space is a great opportunity for community. It's not. It's something I must endure to get from Point A to Point B quickly and efficiently.

                When I'm flying from NYC to Anchorage to Phoenix to Miami back home to the West Coast over the course of four days, you might understand that my fellow passengers are simply travelers on these legs of the path with me. I really don't intend to make friends.

                © grover


                So if you get hit by a bus tonight, would you be satisfied with how you spent today, your last day on earth? Live like tomorrow is never guaranteed, because it's not. -- Me.

                by grover on Tue Oct 22, 2013 at 11:06:48 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  I'm not a commuter-flyer, no, but I fly very (3+ / 0-)

                  often.  I've lived in Europe 6 of the past 8 years so it's pretty much mandatory.

                  And you seem to think my point is to make 'friends'.

                  No.  My point is to see if an interaction may make life a bit more interesting for myself or the other person.  Maybe it won't.  It usually does.

                  It is actually completely against the human social impulse to NOT interact on a long-haul flight, or in an elevator, or on a subway.  People were far more talkative in such situations 10, 20, 30 years ago.  I would like to see it come back, rather than have the whole world lock itself up in its own mechanical devices.

                  To each his own, of course.   Y

                  •  this has been an interesting discussion from both (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    bevenro

                    sides. Personally, I have a book in my lap just in case something more interesting doesn't come up. I have always talked to the people around me and learned may interesting things that way, although I haven't made any permanent friends to take home with me.
                       But I am fascinated by other people's walks of life and if I have a long flight, I'm actually interested in hearing your life story.
                        I can still remember things I learned that made an overnight bus trip go by in minutes one time 30 years ago. And just yesterday a patron where I work commented about his 'brush with greatness' when he recently flew next to a certain famous actor, and they talked all about sailboats because they had that in common.

                    But-and as they say, it's a big 'but'- when their seatmate is not interested, not everyone who considers themselves socially aware actually is. I work with someone who doesn't know when to let the conversation fade.

                    We are all pupils in the eyes of God.

                    by nuclear winter solstice on Wed Oct 23, 2013 at 05:06:51 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  i'm actually suprised at the amount of passion (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      nuclear winter solstice

                      and some vehemence! it has generated.  Maybe I should write a diary on it one of these days.  I know that the majority of people don't pursue things the way I'm proposing here--I actually have put a lot of effort into testing to see how accurate our social codes and conventions actually are--in other words, are certain social taboos ACTUALLY taboo--and are certain recommended social practices (e.g. tact) always that wise?

                      As for a seatmate not being interested--of course that will happen sometimes.  Sometimes I have been that seatmate, too.  So yes, you need the sense/awareness to simply leave something if it's not happening.  But that's true for any conversation, anywhere.  Usually I find that the best approach is to see if a conversation is happening early on--if so, chat for a while (not too long unless it's really animated) then there's a point to pick up on later in the fight.  If there's no connection (which happens too) then leave it alone--maybe for the whole flight, maybe pick it up again after dinner or something.  

                      The strength of the anti-interaction sentiment in the thread is interesting.

      •  well, that's your world. as I've said, I test (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        gustynpip, lissablack

        the waters--since things like headphones/books/etc. are crutches--sometimes people don't want to engage--many times people do.  I have no way of knowing.  So rather than sit on my ass and never engage anybody (which strikes me as a boring way to live), I'd prefer to take chances.  I've met hundreds of people  that way who I wouldn't have met otherwise--many of whom I'm still close with today.

        Just because I  ignored the barrier for a second.

        •  "crutches" ? (3+ / 0-)

          Really?  Good grief.   Sometimes it is not all about you and your desire for engagement... and it is occasionally about the rest of us who are looking forward to using the free time on the plane to read that book.

          I vote Democratic because I am a woman with self-respect , who rejects bigotry of all kinds, subscribes to science, believes in universal health care, embraces unions, and endorses smart internationalist foreign policy. Twitter: @HawaiiDelilah

          by Delilah on Tue Oct 22, 2013 at 11:14:52 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Heh. See "empathy" above, eh? (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Delilah

            © grover


            So if you get hit by a bus tonight, would you be satisfied with how you spent today, your last day on earth? Live like tomorrow is never guaranteed, because it's not. -- Me.

            by grover on Tue Oct 22, 2013 at 11:23:53 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •   Indeed (0+ / 0-)

              I find it all quite amusing and proof that this diary is pure gold.

              I vote Democratic because I am a woman with self-respect , who rejects bigotry of all kinds, subscribes to science, believes in universal health care, embraces unions, and endorses smart internationalist foreign policy. Twitter: @HawaiiDelilah

              by Delilah on Tue Oct 22, 2013 at 10:15:40 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  if you think that 1 minute of an initiated (0+ / 0-)

            conversation is depriving you of the right to empathy, that's a real problem.  To be honest, such a post is far, far more selfish than anything I'm suggesting here.

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