questionsdid nail biting become socially acceptable…

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It's not OK but I do see a lot of people doing it out in public now. But I don't see a lot of "farmer's hanky" action on the street these days so I'm willing to make that trade-off if need be.

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Really? THIS is the most revolting habit you can imagine someone performing in public? REALLY? Not smoking? Not farting in a crowded elevator? Not belching loudly in a restaurant? Not whipping out Mr Happy? Not picking one's nose? Not dropping trou and leaving a present on the sidewalk right in front of you?

You have a very limited imagination. I would happily sit next to someone biting their nails over any of these.

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@zuiquan: I would take the farmer's hanky over nail biting any day of the week, especially in the situations where I have seen nail biting lately. People only have two nostrils, after all; while most people have ten fingers. It takes about 30 seconds to blow both nostrils on the sidewalk if you do a really thorough job, but I was stuck sitting next to a guy who chewed his nails nonstop for a full one-hour flight.

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@stile99: While the other deeds you describe can be performed in public, most of them are explicitly banned. Of the ones you describe that are legal in most areas, they generally take at very most a few seconds, while people can sit and bite their fingernails for an hour or more nonstop.

And for that matter, the legal ones from your list I would say are far less disgusting than having someone sit down and eat their nails for an hour.

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I'll take nail biting over the guy who clipped his toenails in our office. Honestly, he did that.

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lucky you don't live in San Fran...
http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/escalators-san-francisco-bart-transit-system-shut-treated-toilets-article-1.1123006
EVERYTHING is socially acceptable there, even things like walking nude down the sidewalk in front of an elementary school. THE ONLY thing that is not socially acceptable in San Fran is telling someone what they're doing ISN'T acceptable.

Anyway, it depends on the situation... got a hangnail? If you don't have access to clippers right away, gnawing it off may be the best solution. I don't see it as the incredibly disgusting thing that some people do, I just see as another way that our society has fewer manners in general. Throw in the fact that for a lot of people, it's an OCD thing, they literally can't stop themselves.

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@lparsons42: Unless Mr happy is some form of sock puppet only 2 of the 6 things @stile99 mentioned are explicitly banned. I'd hardly call that most.

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I'm with @stile99. That's the most disgusting thing you can think of? People hocking up and spitting and people blowing their nose in a restaurant are 100 times more disgusting than nail biting. Seriously? What's so terrible about nail biting?

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@gideonfrost: He mentioned 6 things. Of them two would be considered indecent pretty much everywhere and a third is generally banned in nearly every public place I have been - indoors or out - in the past 5-10 years. So three are explicitly banned. I will give you that 50% does not qualify as most.

Of the remaining three, some people do still consider a belch to be complementary, a fart does not necessarily make a sound or a smell, and nose picking can be done discretely. Even more so, none of those take more than a few seconds. People who make a habit of nail biting tend to go at it for many minutes - or a full hour or more as I saw on a recent flight.

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@jazzsinger: For one, the other two acts you mention take only a few second each. I have never seen someone in public blow their nose for more than 30 seconds but I have seen people bite their fingernails for an hour.

Second, nail biting is atrociously unsanitary for not just the person doing it but also for all kinds of unsuspecting victims around them. That person will proceed to grab on to any number of public surfaces after dining on the bacteria and filth under their nails, subsequently spreading all that saliva-drenched nastiness all over the place. I wouldn't want to shove my fingers into a stranger's mouth, but they are effectively doing us that service by their act.

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Something about transit/travelling makes people so much less aware of their surroundings.

I'd rather have a nail-biter next to me than an elbow-jabber.

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I'd be more worried about the health of the nail-biters if you're really concerned with them putting their fingers in their mouths and then touching other public objects. Since you're so aware of this, you can easily avoid touching said objects after witnessing a nail biter touch them, or using hand sanitizer, but as @kamikazeken mentions, most nail biters don't even realize they're doing it (or annoying anyone in the process.) Now putting your fingers in your mouth after touching a public object is a whole other story...

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@kamikazeken: The article you linked to described public defecation in the BART system - particularly on escalators. While this is undoubtedly disgusting, it is never mentioned as being acceptable. In fact, it is mentioned that the homeless people do this because of the lack of public bathrooms. Unfortunately, short of building bathrooms down there, there is no solution to this problem - and this is not a cheap solution either.

So it would seem you have confused that which is socially acceptable with that which people can get away with when there is nobody around to prevent it from happening. And you can't police it away either; there are simply too many escalators to have police at the top and bottom of all of them around the clock.