Why Liminal Spaces Feel Like An Altered Reality

A liminal space is often dark, and typically there isn’t another soul around. Liminal spaces aren’t uncommon to encounter; many places you find yourself in may feel liminal (derived from the Latin word ‘limens’, or threshold). Picture a hotel hallway at night or an abandoned Toys-R-Us parking lot. Or maybe you can picture a nearly-abandoned mall, a school during the summer, or a small playground at night coated in light rain. It could also give off a feeling of nostalgia.

(“Let me get some uhhh)
(Photo/caption from r/liminalspace)

Driving to the airport at 3 a.m. with a light mist in the air. A lot of common scenarios we find ourselves in can feel liminal. While these spaces have always existed, no one ever gave them an official term, and even today, a liminal space is not an official definition. The feelings and emotions given off by a liminal space make it feel like an altered reality- not the appearance itself. Ludlow Group defines interacting with a liminal space as “quite literally standing on the threshold between two realities.”

A viral example of liminality is The Backrooms. The Backrooms started as a copypasta on the popular online board 4chan and has since spread to become an ongoing “game” of sorts on Reddit. The original backrooms copypasta text is as follows:

“If you’re not careful and you noclip out of reality in the wrong areas, you’ll end up in the backrooms, where it’s nothing but the stink of old moist carpet, the madness of mono-yellow, the endless background noise of fluorescent lights at maximum hum-buzz, and approximately six hundred million square miles of randomly segmented empty rooms to be trapped in. God save you if you hear something wandering around nearby, because it sure as hell has heard you.”

(My Swimsuit’s still dripping water!)
(Photo/caption from r/liminalspace)

It may feel like a horror game to some, or it may be calming to others. The most commonplace to encounter a liminal space is during travel, between your departure and destination. A rest stop or an airport, a place you are not in for long where your realities are left behind, the threshold is the journey, and the liminal space is the time in-between. Most everyone has been in a liminal space during at least one point in their life. Odyssey puts that “Your brain tells you that something’s wrong because you’re supposed to continue moving on in life, but you’re not, so it feels like reality is altered.”

Next time you find yourself in a liminal space, try and think about what’s going on, and maybe snap a picture of the area and post it to r/LiminalSpace. Your brain will tell you that something feels “off” and that something is supposed to happen, but nothing is happening. It’s a place of transition. “Liminal space is where all transformation takes place if we learn to wait and let it form us.”

(Featured Image from Aesthetics Wiki, Source 1, Source 2, Source 3, Source 4, Source 5, Source 6)

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