sorry for existing: the awkwardness of being in our world

Note: The following is an excerpt from The Liberation of Metals, an upcoming essay that I am doing the final editing for. I thought this part of a particular paragraph could stand on its own as a post.

One modern social habit that displays this passivity and awkwardness that people feel in association with the rigid spaces modern building technologies allow us, is the over-utterance of “sorry”. It’s not completely a matter that “sorry” has changed meaning—though that is sometimes the case—but that some people are generally sorry for being in the way of a smooth flow of traffic. Whether it’s crossing the street in a very apologetic manner, waving and prostrating oneself to the massive car that is letting you walk pass, and seeming overly grateful that such a giant beast would have the kindness of heart to let you as a mere pedestrian cross first; or someone exiting a narrow corridor as another person is entering and saying “sorry” for being a body block to the other person’s continuing through the corridor uninterrupted. There is such shame many of us feel in our very existence, that we are somehow awkward and uncomely beings that are exceptions to the rule and need to be accompanied with constant apology.

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