As our society grows ever more divisive, the rise of conflict-causing product designs will continue. I'm talking about clueless me-first products like the Knee Defender; when we covered it, I wrote that we as a society now "try to selfishly maximize our own comfort to the inconvenience of others," and the comment thread sparked by that entry tells you all you need to know.
Here's another example, also designed for airplanes: The Soarigami.
The product website has a cutesy story about how the designer threw a paper airplane that landed upside-down, inspiring the form.
I'm kind of speechless.
First off, I have no idea why it's designed with a postal motif. Secondly, I just can't imagine packing one of these for a trip--and having the gall and self-entitlement to whip this out and fit it into place with a person next to me.
Very telling is this excerpt from the product's FAQ page:
Q: "What if the person next to me does not want to use the device?"
A: "Did you ask your neighbor politely? If they really don't want to use it, you can claim the existing armrest fair and square. Soarigami is a win-win solution."
Ah, so that's how the world works: I impose on you my idea of how we should share a resource, and if you don't agree, then I just take the whole thing? Brilliant.
I'll provide a link here to the time a flight was diverted and two passengers were thrown off the plane after arguing over a Knee Defender.
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Ignoring the design implementation.
Thee actual sentiment is good! It divides contended real-estate into EQUAL PARTS. No need to rub elbows with a stranger. I would rather have this than be robbed of my armrest altogether by a sprawled out neighbor.
Completely disagree. I’m not a huge fan of this design either, but it attempts to serve a real purpose that your simplistic moral grandstanding doesn’t acknowledge. If a person takes the whole arm rest without giving their neighbor an opportunity to share, they push against the margins of justice: the areas that are smaller or beyond the scope of legal action and instead played out in societal customs and decorum. As the world democratizes and globalizes we enjoy less and less cultural homogeny in these matters, which leads to either conflict, or one party accepting a perceived injustice in order to keep the peace. If someone wants to pull out a handy divider that makes life fair for all parties and prevents issues, I agree it may not be very elegant, but neither is one party acting selfishly and another being wronged. Common spaces are filled with all sorts of physical dividers and rules that impose fairness, why can’t an individual do the same? Your moral posturing in this article makes it clear that you believe yourself to understand an objective right and wrong, and by writing that this divider signals some kind of breakdown (“we NOW live in a society that...”) you are missing the irony that you are doing exactly what this divider seeks to accomplish. It with plastic and you with online moralizing. At least the divider has some potential hygienic benefits.