A bit of personal space enhances human interaction. To fact-check this statement, count the inches between you and another the next you enter a throng, desiring to make a human connection and strike up a conversation with someone.
Heed the rules, pay attention.
Hold out your arm. What is its length? Is this the origin of holding someone at arm’s length?
It may/may not be the origin of the phrase, which we interpret to mean to not get near a person emotionally. Especially when elements of fear or freak out are involved. But not stepping closer than 18 inches to another allows them the personal space that Americans mandate.
18 inches is a good thing to us in the U.S.
An 18-inch distance is also decreed so that one does not have to over-project or damage one’s voice to help the other person being able to hear you. To make shouting unnecessary and/or enable a whisper to complete the circle of communication…
To watch a facial expression, which conveys proper meaning and intent more than words can. To provide a good distance for all of the gestures one might use to further enhance the meaning.
For example, to show how big the record-breaking rainbow trout was – the one you caught on vacation, on the Snake River when no one was around and you forgot to snap a selfie (wink-wink)
Soon it will be Valentine’s Day… only a few days to practice the right among of personal space. Hint-hint – one shouldn’t be able to ‘pinch an inch’ between you and your significant other.
Kiss-kiss! O inches of personal space!
P.S. a month later, the coronavirus has given new depth of meaning to the significance of personal space limits. The completely new airborne virus that attacks on’s lungs is frightening people worldwide into self-sequestering.
At the very least it’s inhibiting personal touch and human companionship. Just what humanity needed (not) – another excuse to shun humans.