SPATIAL AWARENESS AND “PROPRIOCEPTION.” Not unlike “Munchausen syndrome” or “echolalia,” “proprioception” is one of those cool medical terms that when removed from its clinical context, offers up opportunity for humorous misappropriation.
Officially, proprioception refers to an individual’s position-movement sensation or “sense of locomotion,” as originally described. In other words, it is one’s own sense of perception of the relative position of parts of the body. (For example, law enforcement employs this in the field sobriety test that requires a subject to touch his or her nose with eyes closed.) Walking and chewing gum at the same time is another oft-cited test.
Consider proprioception as the evolving affliction of “spatial retardation.” It manifests itself most noticeably with cellphone misuse, but also in a broader sense through individuals’ lack of awareness of their surroundings; rudeness; and actions that show general disregard for others’ space and time.
In a civilized world, we would be more patient with people, especially older adults, challenged with their own proprioception. And perpetrators of anti-social proprioception or spatial retardation would be ostracized or cited.