Newsflash: Other People Exist

I have to say that I think the level of self-absorption in people has reached new highs, and I can’t help but be somewhat shocked. Yesterday, in the waiting room at the doctor’s office, a woman was, for a good 5 solid minutes (a long time to deal with it), endlessly pressing buttons on her cell phone. The phone was apparently configured to make a beeping noise to register to the user that the button-press had been recognized by the phone. This lady was, I guess, used to it. It drove me absolutely nuts. But was it really the noise that drove me insane, or the fact that this woman was completely oblivious to the fact that this noise might bother others around her? Wake up!

She’s not the only one. A few weeks ago, Natasha and I were grocery shopping, and came across a woman who had positioned herself precisely the right way to stop anyone else from using the aisle at all. It was truly amazing. Her cart was lengthwise across the aisle, and she stood at the end reading a box. I moved the cart… loudly… and we were on our way — only to find her again, in the same exact position, a few aisles later! Wake up!

People need to wake up and realize that, indeed, other people *do* exist.

As everyone knows, I work in computing. I support research computing, and one of the things I do is maintain a Linux beowulf cluster, which basically lets people do whatever they do on a normal computer, only a lot faster, partially by running a lot more programs at a single time. One program we run on the cluster has only 150 licenses available for use by some number of thousands of people. I came in to work yesterday morning to find that one person was using… 66 of them! Not only that, he was also using every single resource the cluster had to offer! Inconsiderate. Other people exist!

I decided I want to start my own, grassroots, “jackass” style show where I just keep a digital video camera around to capture people doing these things, and their reactions when I say “excuse me, do you realize that you’re not the only person in the world?”. Stay tuned for that. If you want to help, let me know.

  • k8e

    hi, i found your blog by googling that newsflash phrase because i keep remembering claire exclaiming it in exasperation on 6 feet under…

    i’m conflicted on this post because, while i definitely sympathize with your plight, there is also the part of me that is spacey and knows that i am sometimes inadvertantly asleep at the wheel in my daily life.

    there’s people who are self-absorbed because they are obnoxious and feel entitled and then there’s also people who are just out of it, but respond well to gentle prodding and are properly apologetic and then try not to be that way again.

    not all spacey are created equal. (or, some spacey are more equal than others?)

    also, i guess, this leads me to think about compartmentalization. my guess is we are spacey, in part, because we are compartmentalized. we can’t be the same person all the time (personal, professional, social, parental, online,we’re even different people depending on which language we’re speaking)…we have to keep switching, and there’s a price paid (in awareness) for all that flipping back and forth opening different persona browsers. there are disconnects. some of them happen in traffic and grocery stores. some of them happen on a much larger scale.

    we’re compartmentalized and over-taxed with stress and trying to plan for a retirement or prepare a resume or cover our boo-tays and also cover all the daily necessities of food and gym and laundry and kids and hobbies and socializing and vaccuming and whatever.

    sometimes, our screensaver just comes on. or we blue screen.

    human awareness is a seemingly finite resource.

    so, i feel your pain.

    i guess i am just more pained by the situation that’s creating (perpetuating? exacerbating?) it.


    nice to virtually meet you.

  • Pingback: myspace code