“The Close Talker”
THE LINK = http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NGVSIkEi3mM
When I saw the choice of a popular culture artifact depicting a nonverbal communication behavior I instantly thought of the television show, Seinfeld. Seinfeld has an entire episode relating to the idea of proxemics within nonverbal communication. One particular scene stuck out to me, when Jerry invites Elaine and her boyfriend, Aaron, into his apartment when his parents were there. Jerry had met Aaron, but his parents had not yet, so they had no idea what to expect when Jerry begins to describe Elaine’s boyfriend as a “close talker” before he arrives. He comes into the apartment and introduces himself to Jerry’s mom and immediately steps into her bubble. He then proceeds to talk to everyone in the room and as he begins to speak to each one of them he moves into each one of their personal territories. Personal Space is an invisible adjustable bubble of space that people carry around with them (Burgoon, J., Guerrero, L., Floyd, K., (2010), p. 160). Most people uphold this personal space to avoid discomfort, but within this episode it is almost nearly impossible for anyone to avoid the discomfort that Aaron is displaying.
Personal space varies depending on an individual and can also be effected by their social norms. There is an expectation within society in which most abide by the social norms at which one stands when talking to someone. It is a fine line because so many people have different size bubbles; Aaron however does not care where people’s fine lines are. An example “shy people generally have stronger needs for personal space than do outgoing people” (Burgoon, J., Guerrero, L., Floyd, K., (2010), p.160). Along with social norms, researches have found how distance can affect communication. Distance is broken down into four categories, Intimate, Personal-Casual, Social- Consultative, and Public. Intimate Distance is a range from 0 to 1 ½ feet, which is extremely close and usually used in relationships. In Seinfeld Aaron would use this with Elaine because he is in relationship with her at the time, but unfortunately he does not use any other distances to talk to people, everyone is talked to at the same distance whether he is in a close relationship or a complete stranger. Personal-Casual Distance is the range from 1 ½ to 4 feet, personal conversations are held with family, friends, and partners at this distance. This is the distance at which Aaron “should” (socially acceptable) be talking. The next distance is Social-Consultative the range from 4 feet to 10 feet, which also can be used for social situations and business transactions. And lastly is the Pubic Distance, which ranges 10 feet and beyond, which is a distance in which it is socially acceptable to stand this distance from a complete stranger or the distance from a speaker and their audience. (Burgoon, J., Guerrero, L., Floyd, K., (2010), p.167-168). Even though Aaron did not use the correct distances or social norms within proxemics, these are just guidelines and are significantly different within each culture. He may come from a culture where his behavior is acceptable.
Seinfeld. (1994). The Close Talker. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NGVSIkEi3mM
Burgoon, J., Guerrero, L., Floyd, K., (2010). Nonverbal Communication.