The Psychology of Everyday Things – Doors

Marshal McLuhan said that all technologies have a bias. More recently Douglas Rushkoff has been saying much the same thing. I’m not so genius so I won’t get into it too much, except to look at some specific, concrete examples.

I wonder what peoples’ behaviours are around doors. Its come to mind since I moved rooms and discovered that the door to my new room is ever so slightly off kilter and hence prefers to stay open, ie; if I leave it to do its thing it slowly swings wide open. I find that I don’t like a door that seems to possess a mind of its own. Its nice to be able to leave the door at any number of positions from full open, to full closed with all the intermediate stages in between as well.

When I was living in the dorms at university in Sydney door positions were an important means of social communication. An open door meant “come on in!” Closed meant Do Not Disturb. A door open a crack or a few inches could mean welcome to friends, an invitation to stop by and say hello. I suspect there were a lot more subtleties to it as well.

For my part I’ve internalized that system and so not having control of my door bothers me. What’s more it effects my use of the rest of the apartment. When I leave my room for instance I like to leave the door open a crack so that its easy for me to just flow right back in but also signals that my room is still more or less closed. Now it just swings open when I do that which on some deep subconscious level leaves me feeling slightly vulnerable and exposed, all my “stuff” sitting there unguarded. On the other hand closing the door when I leave the room for a glass of water or a midnight snack feels a bit rude to me, as though I don’t trust my roommates or guests and it makes me feel like I’m entering a separate space whenever I come back to my room. Its as if bathroom breaks are an expedition into foreign territory.

Yes this is kind of exhaggerated and ridiculous, but still, small things effect our perceptions and moods in the way that they work, particularly things that we interact with on a regular basis.

What’s your door psychology? Or your relationships to other objects in your environment?

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One comment

  1. Jody · January 11, 2011

    I’m an “open door” kind of guy. I don’t care if my stuff is exposed, unless I have sex toys sitting on the bed or something… If I’m in the room I usually like the door open too – it feels less enclosed, more connected with the rest of the world.

    When I’m sleeping I sometimes close my bedroom door to cut down on noise and light, but I wish I didn’t have to, mostly so the kitties can roam freely.

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