When speaking to our friends, stories about strangers tend to come up. We’ll talk about this woman you saw in the grocery store looking like she needs to be on What Not to Wear. We’ll tell of people who let their kids run around like they own the place. And then there’s the loud, awkward conversations that we overhear. They’re super annoying, but they make for great stories.
It’s these types of experiences that tell about us as people. What are our reactions to people who don’t share our ideas of acceptable public behavior? Do we stand up for what we believe in even if it really doesn’t even matter? Do we not do anything? Do we go home and tell our friends? Our reactions define our character and our tolerance.
I do have strong opinions on how people should act in public. People should be calm. They should be considerate. They should keep all judgement to themselves. If someone wrongs them, they should settle the dispute with a cool disposition and respectful words and tones. But nobody’s perfect. People are going to defy those norms, of course.
One day, I was at the movie theatre and my family had gotten there pretty early. We were all settled in our seats, watching the previews when this couple walked in and put their belongings in their seat and went back to the lobby to buy popcorn, drinks, etc. But when they came back, the theatre was really crowded. People had moved their stuff and taken their seats. While that was rude and unacceptable, the guy that discovered what had happened and immediately started yelling at them to move. The people in the seats were confused and hadn’t realized they had done something wrong, and this man yelling at them couldn’t have helped. And when people asked him to calm down, he just got more angry. I just sat there like most of the theatre did until the confused couple who had taken these seats reluctantly moved just to get this guy out of their faces.
The yelling man seems like he is a rude, overdramatic person that needed to calm down, but you never know what’s actually going on with him. I judged the yelling guy when I don’t even know him. His actions spoke for just that – his actions. Nothing else. But I’m telling you to support my argument now. What does that say about me? It says I’m willing to share a story of someone’s misfortune for other people’s entertainment, and that’s spreading gossip. I don’t want to be known for that. I’d rather inspire deep thoughts and emotions with my writing, not tell stories about amusing people I don’t even know.
I can’t promise I’ll never tell another story of people with inappropriate public behavior. Because honestly, I kind of like complaining about them and seeing other people’s reactions. Still, I know it’s unhealthy and unfair, right? It’s better to keep these things to yourself and focus on your own actions, as opposed to outwardly judging other people.