In lieu of a ten-foot pole

Your physical distance from someone, it is said, is indicative of how close you are in other ways. With this in mind, David Seah introduces the Social Yardstick:

Physically, The Yardstick is a measuring device that collapses to fit in your pocket. The prototype here is constructed out of popsicle sticks and packing tape. Each popsicle stick is labeled as listed below:

  • Acquaintance — This is someone you know only slightly.
  • Co-Worker — Someone you work with regularly, but probably not daily. Casual friends too.
  • Co-Conspirator — Someone you are working with, perhaps sharing a hidden agenda or personal goal. You’re close, but not too close.
  • Best Friend — Someone you’re pretty close with. They’re inside your personal space.
  • Close Family — That is, family members that you actually like.
  • Sweetie — You’ve slept together. Or really want to.
  • You — This is the end of The Yardstick you hold.

Use of The Yardstick is commendably simple:

To use The Social Yardstick, merely unfold its length and stretch between yourself and the person you are standing near. Read the label on the segment that is closest to the other person, and adjust your distance appropriately.

This strikes me as far too useful to be dismissed as mere “chindōgu.”

(Via Bill Peschel.)


  1. McGehee »

    31 July 2007 · 8:53 pm

    From the Wikipedia article for chindōgu:

    …a perfectly logical solution that turns out to be perfectly useless.

    This definition includes 99% of government.

  2. Heather »

    1 August 2007 · 12:13 am

    Very clever.

  3. Winston »

    1 August 2007 · 5:59 am

    It seems there are at least 2 popsicle sticks missing out on the far end: one for someone you don’t know at all, and one for those you would label arse-hole.

    This is reminiscent of a similar theory or system that was used in management courses and interpersonal relations studies 20 or 30 years ago. Can’t remember what it was called, or any other details, but it did not involve consuming large amounts of popsicles. Something about an onion, layers of an onion, with you at the center. Makes me want to cry. And getting in an elevator, sharing space with others, and whether there is conversation or eye contact… Vague wispy memories…

  4. McGehee »

    1 August 2007 · 7:57 am

    Anything that combines onions and elevators would make me cry too.

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