So I’m standing to go after one of my grad classes ends and this girl behind me says,
“You know, sitting behind you, I really feel like I’ve gotten to know you.”
Nonplussed I wait.
“Like, you like gelato right?
Then it dawns on me. She has been reading off of my laptop. Over the past couple of weeks I have been updating my facebook status with statements that include the word, “gelato.” Now, I have a 17″ screen, so I expect people behind me to know what I’m doing–notes, e-mail, looking at wooster. I myself am guilty of looking at other people’s screens to see what they’ve got going (in most of my classes it’s a veritable ocean of Mactops). But I have NEVER looked hard enough to read someone’s facebook status. It made me wonder what else she had read . . .
I had no witty comeback. I just gaped until she left, awkwardly. Then it hit me. Two days before in that same class, this tall guy with long hair–and his own laptop–sits beside me and then leans over and stares at my screen . . . for minutes at a time . . . on and off for the whole two hours. He didn’t even get the message when I firmly turned my computer 15 degrees away from him. It got to the point that when I googled a website the teacher referenced, he put his finger on my screen to indicate which search result I should click.
What is going on? Is this normal etiquette now? Can I just waltz into a class and consider that all 50 computers are at my disposal? Can I make friends by reading your e-mail or putting my greasy fingers on your new glossy Macbook? Am I crazy for letting this freak me out? We need guidelines, and we need them now. Let me ask it à la Bradshaw: When it comes to personal computing, how much belongs to the public?