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Posiel,  Process Post

Process Post: Taking the time to talk to strangers


My experience of an interaction with a stranger after reading James Hamblin's "How to Talk to Strangers", an article in which Hamblin links the use of social media as a deterrer to real-life social interactions.

This is a process post for the week of September 20 (Week 2)

“How to Talk to Strangers” by James Hamblin discusses the modern dilemma of social media replacing our real-life social interactions. As media has slowly integrated into our daily routines, the simple action of conversing with others has become a rarity. Hamblin investigates the idea that our personalities change once we consider an individual as “known”. What actually constitutes as knowing someone? And how do we know once that line has been crossed? As an individual who grew up pre the everyone owning a smartphone phase that we currently reside in, there has been a noticeable shift in the way I go about interacting with so called strangers. To me a stranger is someone I’ve never seen before, interacted with or know the name of, and unless there is some clear reason to start a conversation with them, I tend to avoid saying anything at all. Like most people, I’ve definitely experienced an unexpected run-in with someone from my past in some setting where you both seem unsure if you should acknowledge the others existence. As sad as it seems I usually use social media as a benchmark of closeness as a way to gauge if we still keep in touch. Typically if I don’t follow the person on a social media platform and have not interacted with them in the past two years, I’ll stay silent and continue on as if the interaction never happened.

This past week I took up Hamblin’s challenge and strike up a conversation with an absolute stranger. To make this a little easier for myself I chose a location where I feel comfortable, my work. Working as a florist there are a surprising amount of peculiar customers that I’ve crossed paths with and these uncomfortable interactions have honestly made me be less enthusiastic to strike up small talking with a customer. Taking on this challenge at work may have added an extra layer of difficulty, as I would have to chose the right timing to engage with a customer so that it would not hinder the actual work I needed to complete. The lady I talked to ended up being extremely extraverted and kind. We discussed why she was buying flowers, which lead to her explanation that she was headed to a birthday party for a one year old, and the conversation ended with her showing me pictures of the child’s birthday that she was attending. What really stood out to me about this interaction in comparison to social media was the ease and flow of the conversation. Social media tends to be an awful platform to interact with strangers on as there is no for sure way to implicate tone. Any phrase that is said through a text can be comprehended in a multitude of ways, making it extraordinarily easy for miscommunications or full stop ending conversations to occur. With this in person exchange it was easy to gauge the strangers personality and make it easy to continue conversing. Overall, trying Hamblin’s challenge I was able to understand how people who participate in interactions within their day have better mood, happiness, and creativity.

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