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Hidden Dimension

We meet different kinds of people each day. These people may come from all walks of life and from varying cultures. Our relationships with these people differ to a certain degree which is why we deal with them respectively. And to some extent, the level of interaction we give may result in positive, negative, or passive reactions depending on the social and cultural orientation of the person. Here are some accounts where I purposely violated the limits of “hidden dimension” or “the unwritten, unconscious system of personal body space” (Burkeman, 1999, para. 2).

My brother had some serious substance abuse problems. It has been known that persons under the influence of illegal substances are irritable and sensitive. It just so happened that my parents reprimanded him, I tried to talk to him at about two feet. In Northern Europe and North America, lovers, close friends and wrestling partners aside, the average depth of the bubble at the front is between two and three feet (Burkeman, 1999, para. 4). This so-called “intimate space” or the closest “bubble” of space surrounding a person…is acceptable only for the closest friends and intimates (Brown, n.

d. , para. 2). When I realized that my brother was just listening passively, I tried to inch closer to him at about 1 foot and continued discussing his problem. Feeling intruded because of the closeness, he felt annoyed and exasperated that he stood up, slammed the door and went away. The moment I moved closer to him, I knew I was violating the hidden dimension, his personal body space. Adding up to his aggressive condition of being a drug user, certainly it resulted to a raging reaction through the act of standing up, slamming the door, and going away.

Hidden Dimension 2 In school, I do not know all my colleagues. I have close classmates who I treated as close friends, and there are those who I just casually know because we belong to the same home room. Coincidentally, we had a surprise test on one subject and I was not able to grasp all the lectures during the previous meeting so I had to borrow or share notes with a classmate who has one. It just so happened that the person who has taken almost all the notes was not so close to me. We were close to strangers. But I have no choice but to approach him and negotiate.

When I tried to go near him, I caught him cramming over his notes. Without any hesitation and in desperation, I asked respectfully if I could share with his notes. Courteously, he said “yes. ” Immediately, I took a seat next to him, which about less than a foot away. During the first few minutes, we tried to catch up with the readings but after a while, he excused himself and told me to just study his notes and return it to him as soon as I am through. Even in silence, I could feel his uneasiness owing to the fact that we were not really close.

The act I did was a violation of the “intimate distance” which is from 0 to 18 inches “in public is not considered proper by adult, middle class Americans,” according to Hall in his 1969 classic “The Hidden Dimension” (as cited in Burkeman, 1999). In conclusion, “people develop all sorts of ways to guard their own space — or they just withdraw into alternative spaces…,” says James in London (as cited in Burkeman, 1999). These alternative spaces may be called “blocking tactics” or “tension and anxiety-reduction responses.

” We should be aware of the privacy of other people by being sensitive to the so called “personal space. ” All it takes is respect for one another and understand that we are entitled to our own “territories” which no one can intrude but you alone. Hidden Dimension 3


Brown, N. (n. d. ). Edward T. Hall: Proximity Theory, 1966. Retrieved June 28, 2007 from http://www. csiss. org/classics/content/13 Burkeman, O. (1999). Keep your Distance. The Guardian (UK), September 14, 1999. Retrieved June 28, 2007 from http://members. aol. com/doder1/oliver3. htm

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