Back when there were phone booths on many urban street corners, researchers used them in a staged psychological experiment.
They watched some public phones, and timed how long people talked on them. From time to time, they had a confederate approach the phone and stand nearby, clearly waiting to make a call.
I'v always kind of hated what they found out.
People talked longer when someone else was waiting to use the phone. For no discernible reason, and no benefit to themselves, they inconvenienced a stranger. If two people lined up to wait, they talked even longer. They probably weren't even aware that they were being mean. It was just wired into them.
People show the same shitty behavior when other people show up as they're pulling out of parking spaces, even though as that study points out, "such behavior is contrary to their goal of leaving."
Of course, it's not shitty or mean to those doing the research. It's territoriality. It's in our nature to defend our turf, even if it's just a tiny patch we happen to occupy for a few minutes. What interests me is that we extrude that impulse through the physical world and into the cultural one. We defend our ideas, our righteousness with equal or greater vigor, even though these constructs have no material presence.