The free societies have SO many rules. The only time I notice the really intricate ones is when I unintentionally break any. Like the first time I broke the “seating rules” in a subway train. It was the old kind of train. Bench seats with a slippery cover. On one of the seats there were two women. And there was some space between them. I went and sat between the two women. One of them looked at me with an openly disgusted look, and stood up.
It took me a few days to figure out… it doesn’t matter if there was space, the seat was “meant” for two people. I had encroached. In the all-precious personal space. Unforgivable!
And if there are available seats, the priority is to choose one that’s not next to anyone already sitting, unless I really “have” to.
Now I know better. At the bar stools in a coffee shop, for instance, I wouldn’t sit right next to anyone, if there was a place further ahead. Or I could sit there, but would get a “what’s wrong with you” look.
We have to preserve the hard-won freedom to have socially expected and acceptable distance. And then pay someone to teach us how to have meaningful conversations. While we’re safely sitting 2 seats away.