This is the State Library of New South Wales. It is the oldest library in Australia, opened in December 1827. The same year that Beethoven died and long before the Super Nintendo.
I am currently right here typing this post, I particularly like coming here whilst my WiFi at home is still in the process of being fixed. It is certainly cheaper than finding a coffee shop for WiFi, I don’t need to buy anything and this has helped me out a lot. The problem for me with libraries is that they are too quiet, this makes it very hard for me to focus. How can I work when I am terrified that typing on my keyboard is causing a distraction? Every sneeze, every pen hitting a table, every scrunch of paper is intensified by a factor of a thousand. If I owned a library, I would probably have a policy in place making people refrain from being overly quiet.
‘Hey, you! You are being too quiet, it is distracting people. Make some more noise like your considerate neighbours or you’re out.’
Maybe not as strict as this, but you get the idea.
But back to the point of my post. Jokes aside, this kind of behavior leads well into what I am about to say. My laptop was on half battery. The only seat I could find was one next to a guy on his laptop and he wasn’t using the socket. The tables are roughly 12 feet in length and there were numerous seats empty away from him, but they were useless as they did not have a power source. As I sat down, he took a good second to look at me and rearrange his phone and notepad. I could see for whatever reason he was distracted by my presence, this would be understandable if I was a celebrity or if I rode in on a horse. My rather anticlimactic entrance meant that his reaction was a little strange. As I started to unzip my laptop bag he looked at me again. He took his earphones out and so did I, wondering what he was going to ask.
‘Excuse me, there isn’t anyone sitting on the chairs opposite.’
Now don’t get me wrong, I love a random fact. Although this one sounded more like a hint than anything else. His observational skills were on point, but it came across a little rude.
‘Thanks, but I need to charge my laptop.’ I said. ‘Oh okay’, he replied and in went his earphones.
Now this wasn’t exactly a heated exchange, but it made me think. Why would anyone say that? Was he suffering from claustrophobia? Was he someone that dislikes other guys sitting next to him? Regardless of what it was, this isn’t my problem. If he liked the space he could see in front of him, he shouldn’t be persuading anyone to move but himself. This would be different of course if the library was empty apart from him. If I was to then choose out of the hundreds of seats to get a little close, this would understandably set alarm bells ringing. But my point is that if you have a problem, sometimes this is your problem.
There are a few exceptions, we all have a role to play. If I hadn’t washed in a week, I would be more open to being told to move. If I started to stroke his face, the same. Sometimes, we are the ones that need to address our own insecurities and make sure we are not projecting the blame onto others.
This is very much needed today, with so many conflicts of interest. From triggered social justice warriors causing riots at universities and those that are easily offended by simple discussions and debates. It seems like even the most ‘compassionate’ sectors of society are becoming increasingly intolerant, and I do feel this is the case trying to have debates with certain people from time to time. It is worrying how conversation will become affected by the ease in which offence is caused. Not being offended should be a personal responsibility, something we process internally before jumping to the conclusion of being a victim.
Not that this occurred in the library, but it is how my thoughts evolved after upsetting someone when I sat next to them. But it is something I have experienced recently. Have you had similar thoughts? If we live our lives with the aim of not offending anyone, we wouldn’t be able to leave the house. That is pretty scary.