Here’s some guidelines meant to help people on how to navigate in crowded spaces.
These “Guidelines” is meant for anyone who has to navigate around crowded spaces. It is meant to provide a framework for anyone who has been clueless about how to respond to situations of crowdedness whenever and wherever they are encountered. The Guidelines comprise of the following statements:
- Everyone is struggling to get to where they want to go, including other people. You are not the only person with somewhere to go. There are other people too!
- You have 2 eyes and 2 ears. You can choose to be aware about what’s around you. You can still choose to be immersed in Candy Crush or IMing, provided that they do not hinder your awareness of the immediate surroundings. This principle is absolute crucial for the next principle, which is…
- You have 2 legs and 2 hands. You can choose to move (with 2 feet) and you can choose to signal your intentions to move (with 2 hands). You can point to where you are heading; you move to space from a crowded area. Which leads me to the next principle, which is…
- You need not be where you are! This is absolutely crucial. You can choose where you want to be, instead of being ‘stuck’ where you are. Even if you feel you are stuck, you can always use the next principle, which is…
- You have a mouth. You can use your mouth to say “excuse me”, or “sorry” to indicate that you desire some space to move into.
There is one rule that is the foundation of the other rules. And it is thus:
That, “I shall not be a bad person” on public transport.
Without this rule, all other rules fall apart. This rule means that you do not hinder the spaces of others, especially the elderly, the pregnant, those with special mobilities (wheelchairs, crutches, and so on). The rules do not restrict when one should have to give space; even if you are sitting on a non-reserved seat, one can still give space to the above categories of people.
We might not know the suffering others are going through, and we can always lessen the pain a little by giving up the space that we have to others.
I invite people to illustrate, make jokes, adapt it and have fun with this. I believe that we can learn to negotiate space, both literal ones and metaphorical spaces. Maybe when we learn how to share literal spaces better, we will learn how to share other spaces with others – metaphorical, emotional, and social spaces, among others.
There is a sense in which Singapore does not have enough metaphorical social spaces. But what is a social space? I’m referring to the conceptual version of the term, not the literal “spaces or places to hang out with people.”
A social space is a gathering of people in physical and virtual environments in which they can talk through, and act on, the things the gathering are interested about. More importantly, a social space is also a promise or a commitment.
Why do I say that? I say that because it is assumed in the gathering of people, that they will commit themselves to rules to get the conversation started, that they will be constructive, and that they will to varying degrees, agree and support to further actions that might arise out of the gathering.
What does it mean? It means that a social space is constructed, by the people who are together, and who can get to know one another, and share common interests. A social space can grow, to take on more people.
The social spaces that I take part in all have some rules, or guidelines on how to be, to be a member of these spaces. And they have gone on to take action of some kind. I have also seen other social spaces too.
I have seen a social space for inter-faith dialogue, for people to talk through their stories of faith experiences. I have seen a social space to talk through the concepts of financial management. I have seen a social space to talk through initiatives in the social sector.
A social space is open. What I would like this to mean is that: these spaces are not structured spaces in which there are hierarchies and in which you need permission to enter. These are open spaces, where entry is based only on sharing common interest.
A social space is participatory, which I would like to mean than anyone can come in, and provide their own views about how it could be, subject of course, to the views of others. This is neither chaos or complete order, but social spaces are also often spaces of negotiation, not just for the topic of interest, but also about the form of the negotiations.
There are of course, loads of social spaces on other things; on human rights, on the environment (and further subdivisions exist). I think social spaces are one key requirement for addressing the challenges to come, and I hope to see more of them soon.