Why Americans Seek Social Isolation in Public Places
As urban populations continue to grow, we increasingly lead our anonymous lives in public. That results in people employing some interesting strategies to avoid interacting with strangers.
What's the Latest Development?
Ironically, Americans seek out social isolation in public places, particularly on public transport networks like bus and metro routes, says a new study of social norms. The study, carried out by Esther Kim from Yale University, took the researcher on bus trips across the country for three years, culminating in an assessment of how we deal with strangers in public. "Kim found that the greatest unspoken rule of bus travel is that if other seats are available you shouldn't sit next to someone else. As the passengers claimed, 'It makes you look weird'. When all the rows are filled and more passengers are getting aboard, the seated passengers initiate a performance to strategically avoid anyone sitting next to them."
What's the Big Idea?
The objective of not sitting next to anybody changes drastically when the driver announces that the bus is full, changing from sitting alone to sitting next to a 'normal' person. "Kim found that race, class, gender and other background characteristics were not key concerns for commuters when they discovered someone had to sit next them. They all just wanted to avoid the 'crazy person.'" As urban populations continue to grow, we increasingly live our anonymous lives in public. "However, avoiding other people actually requires quite a lot of effort and this is especially true in confined spaces like public transport," said Kim.
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Step inside the unlikely friendship of a former ACLU president and an ultra-conservative Supreme Court Justice.
- Former president of the ACLU Nadine Strossen and Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia were unlikely friends. They debated each other at events all over the world, and because of that developed a deep and rewarding friendship – despite their immense differences.
- Scalia, a famous conservative, was invited to circles that were not his "home territory", such as the ACLU, to debate his views. Here, Strossen expresses her gratitude and respect for his commitment to the exchange of ideas.
- "It's really sad that people seem to think that if you disagree with somebody on some issues you can't be mutually respectful, you can't enjoy each other's company, you can't learn from each other and grow in yourself," says Strossen.
- The opinions expressed in this video do not necessarily reflect the views of the Charles Koch Foundation, which encourages the expression of diverse viewpoints within a culture of civil discourse and mutual respect.
Learn how to redesign your job for maximum reward.
- Broaching the question "What is my purpose?" is daunting – it's a grandiose idea, but research can make it a little more approachable if work is where you find your meaning. It turns out you can redesign your job to have maximum purpose.
- There are 3 ways people find meaning at work, what Aaron Hurst calls the three elevations of impact. About a third of the population finds meaning at an individual level, from seeing the direct impact of their work on other people. Another third of people find their purpose at an organizational level. And the last third of people find meaning at a social level.
- "What's interesting about these three elevations of impact is they enable us to find meaning in any job if we approach it the right way. And it shows how accessible purpose can be when we take responsibility for it in our work," says Hurst.
Erik Verlinde has been compared to Einstein for completely rethinking the nature of gravity.
- The Dutch physicist Erik Verlinde's hypothesis describes gravity as an "emergent" force not fundamental.
- The scientist thinks his ideas describe the universe better than existing models, without resorting to "dark matter".
- While some question his previous papers, Verlinde is reworking his ideas as a full-fledged theory.
TuSimple, an autonomous trucking company, has also engaged in test programs with the United States Postal Service and Amazon.
PAUL RATJE / Contributor
- This week, UPS announced that it's working with autonomous trucking startup TuSimple on a pilot project to deliver cargo in Arizona using self-driving trucks.
- UPS has also acquired a minority stake in TuSimple.
- TuSimple hopes its trucks will be fully autonomous — without a human driver — by late 2020, though regulatory questions remain.