Why Are Hallways So Awkward
Whenever one is walking from one end of a hallway to another, and they see another person on the other end, there is this moment of an awkward social interaction. There is an acknowledgement of familiarity but no verbal action as the social construct of that space does not necessarily allow for a comfortable situation for an exchange of words. Further, there are also situations when people pass each other in the hallway in the span of twenty minutes at least five times, by the third or fourth time it occurs, it seems almost foolish to acknowledge each other’s presence yet again. Some of these types of interactions result in humour and other times you may want the Earth to swallow you whole from the ground instead of saying a forced “hi” again.
Maybe we investigate the theory of coincidences briefly and try to situate the hallway within it. A coincidence is essentially a series of synchronistic events. So, it really is just a question of two individuals making a choice to be physically present at a certain time and place that just so happens to be exact same. It may be interesting to think of the hallway as a physical manifestation of this type of coincidences. Historically, before the hallway was created, people moved through rooms. If we were to relate to something we all may understand instantly, it is like moving through studio spaces demarcated by the professor running it. Today, the act of going from one space to another within a building has been physically manifested into its own space, the hallway.
Through this system of connecting all other spaces to one space, a high traffic zone gets created as it requires one to always return to this space to get to the next. The shape and the size of the other spaces that surround the hallway, usually requires it to be uncomfortably long. It creates a distance between two people who are at opposite ends of this unnaturally long and narrow space that only allows for a certain type of acceptable social cues such as a head nod or a big wave. It also is a moment for eye contact being made first before words are exchanged. The anticipation of this moment to be happened could be dreadful for some. Again, it is the length of this space that catalyzes this ritual to be experienced.
However, these moments are fleeting. They finish before you may even begin to ponder on what just happened. That so-called awkwardness is probably a teaching in disguise. Maybe hallways are just a mundane space teaching us how to be more social, extroverted beings. After all, the space is created for one to just pass through and not stay for too long. It may be worthwhile to consider, should this experience be over-studied and over-thought as this piece of writing has just done or should we just enjoy this awkwardness as a moment of teaching us how to laugh at ourselves and move on with life?