It isn’t nice to be nudged. I’m talking about the physical kind here, the unmistakable human shove of body on body, shoulder on shoulder, accompanied by that indignant, self-righteous sigh, to let you know you have transgressed some kind of social norm in a queue or on a crowded train. Even pre-Covid, it would hit your defences like a low-level assault, arousing an awkward emotional cocktail of surprise, guilt and affront: ‘What have I done?’
It could be effective though, cutting through more viscerally than words to prompt you to move or adjust, perhaps with a meek smile or apology. It could also go wrong. Any sense that the assault was unjustified would be met by standing your ground, digging in, or even nudging right back: a high-risk human strategy lending some drama to low-stakes human interactions.
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