while I am hoping for a GQ style answer I seriously doubt there is one so with that in mind.
why is it that people pushing shopping carts in a store will stop with their cart blocking the isle when they know full well others will be coming along (or are in fact already almost there?
why is it people will stop in the middle of the road in a car when confused instead of driving to a safe place to stop? or sit with their car in the street when there is an available parking spot nearby?
why do people stop at the top of escalators, just outside the elevator door, or the top of the stairs/end of the hallway?
why do people answer the phone, for a call they know is completely unimportant while hurtling down the street in their car?
in short what the hell is the deal with people, out in public, operating as if they are the only person in the whole universe? (or acting without the slightest thought about the action they are about to take…like this guy http://www.snopes.com/horrors/freakish/hotspring.asp)
I am trying to find a study or whatever mechanism it is that causes people to act like this.
What I find interesting is that in my gym we have several locations for drinking fountains. All of these locations have two drinking fountains. One is at normal level and one is very low so people with disabilities, like a wheel chair, can access it.
Yet time after time, I see people filling up their bottle of water from the higer up drinking fountain. Why?
I mean it’s no huge deal but still if you don’t have a bottle for water you have to bend way over to drink from the low fountain. And since it’s no more trouble to fill your bottle up from the lower one, why not use that one?
Or why do people spit gum into the urnial. It doesn’t flush so the poor cleaning guy is going to have to pull it out. I mean really how hard is it to spit your gum into the garbage can 2 feet away?
I don’t get the drinking fountain one. Most of the tiered drinking fountains I’ve seen the lower one is considerably lower. So much so that I would have to bend my back to fill up my bottle. I wouldn’t want to do that.
Sometimes people just stop in the aisle at the grocery store, after exiting an elevator, etc. because they’re lost in thought. It’s not that they’re all self-entitled twits who don’t care about others around them. Some of 'em are, I’m sure, but not the majority.
It is widely propogated that there are 2 reactions to a problem “fight or flight” but actually there are three, and the third is “freeze.” The freeze reaction is considered the first reaction in the hierarchy of stress reactions, so its the first you’re going to see in a moment of mild stress, such as confusion as to whether to turn left of right at the top of an escalator.
I think it’s a matter of curtsy…or lack there of. We aren’t a polite or orderly society, as a whole, so people tend to do whatever they want. If you go to other countries where curtsy is expected then, because of social pressure, you get people who don’t act like those in the OP.
The one that drives me the most crazy, since I travel a lot, is people who just stop in the passage way when getting off the plane. Instead of moving to one side they block up the whole thing, delaying everyone. They do this despite the fact that they COULD move out of the way to make room for the people they know are behind them. I think they do this because they just don’t care that they are causing delays for others…not only doesn’t it cross their minds, but worse, they could care less about it.
No mechanism needed—it’s the default. It’s not thinking that comes naturally. Thinking—specifically, trying to see things from other people’s point of view and thinking about how our actions affect them—is something we have to learn, and takes effort.
To answer the OP: Because they haven’t been taught how to think. You’d be amazed at how unperceptive and unaware most people are. If they’ve never been taught to think about what’s going on around them and where they are in relation to it, they just sort of blindly blunder about, focused in on whatever it is that they’re thinking about.
I’m convinced that’s how a lot of really selfish, verging on evil behavior comes about; people just aren’t trained to consider what consequences their actions will have, and then blame others or outside forces when these consequences come to pass, in most cases.
Most of the bullies I’ve met, who weren’t bullying me, weren’t bad guys. They just didn’t think about what they were doing- it was fun to pick on the other kid, so they did it, without really considering what he felt like.
The other day I was at a KFC. I went in to use their urinal. The dang bottom lip of the thing sat right at ball level. Seriously, if I were even an inch shorter I would have had to stand on my tip toes to reach the urinal!!
I just couldn’t help thinking: “What freaking retard installed this thing? And what freaking retard owner/manager said: ‘Yeah OK, that looks good to me. Here’s your money plumber/installer guy. Thanks.’ …?” :dubious:
Some of the things the OP hits on are due to absent mindedness. Heck, we’ve all been guilty of that. But that doesn’t mean some of these people are just stupid.
The problem is it’s hard to make a snap judgment in passing.
I have to disagree with this; it’s a matter of habit. I’m just as likely to be lost in thought as the next guy, but I have developed the habit of not leaving my grocery cart in the middle of the aisle, not stopping while exiting an elevator (or worse, an escalator), etc. And I habitually use my directional signals when driving, regardless of whether someone’s behind me . . . out of habit, so I don’t have to think about it every single time. If you’re not aware enough to develop these habits in the first place, you can’t blame it on being “lost in thought.”