Often, I am shy with people I don’t know well, and am apprehensive to talk to anyone for the fear of being judged. However, I do try to smile at people I don’t know, and to be pleasant with those around me, like in the grocery store, for example. This has been quite difficult with mask wearing, as I find myself smiling at people, but they don’t know I am smiling at all. This makes me feel awkward, as it looks as though I am simply just staring at them.
My mother is the type of person who will spark up a conversation with anyone, and I sometimes get embarrassed by this. However, after reading the articles for this week, I worked up the courage to chat with someone who I saw out and about that I didn’t know. I went in with the mindset that this person doesn’t know who I am or anything about me, and will likely never see me again. This is my usual thought when interacting with strangers through comments online. Off I went to Starbucks to pick up a coffee. Upon my arrival to the store, I got in line behind a woman who was having trouble deciding what drink to get and I could hear her chatting with the barista. I thought this would be the perfect time to jump into the conversation, so I suggested for her to try the vanilla sweat cream cold brew. She seemed to appreciate my opinion, and ended up ordering that drink! This was a very pleasant and natural encounter, and I was proud of myself for speaking up since I normally would have just minded my own business. In the past in similar situations, I have always found myself thinking that I could speak up, but that the person probably wouldn’t care about my opinion. I believe this is a sort of social anxiety or fear, where I think that the stranger will judge me or not want to talk to me at all (Nicolas, 2019). I found myself happier after the encounter, which validated what Hamblin (2016) mentioned in his article about stranger encounters improving the mood of both parties involved.
In my online interactions, depending on the situation, I often feel more comfortable talking to strangers through comments or even liking a tweet or comment that someone has posted that I do not know. My rationale behind this is that they don’t know who I am, and maybe will never even notice my like or see my reply. I think that we are often more comfortable talking to people online than we are in person, because our phones provided a sense of security that we can hide behind. This is something that does not exist in in-person interactions, as they seem to be more vulnerable. With that being said, I would be more apprehensive in an online interaction if someone were to direct message me. It is much easier when you can physically see the person. It is definitely a doubled-edged sword.
I think that this process post and stranger encounter are quite applicable to what my blog is all about – relaying my inner thoughts and the way I cope with my emotions, as well as building my own confidence. Having this small encounter with the stranger made my day better and ultimately brought me joy. I think we need to cherish small moments like these, especially now in our times of social distancing and isolation.
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Hamblin, James. 2016. “How to Talk to Strangers.”
Nicolas, Paul. 2019. “Want To Feel Happier Today? Try Talking To A Stranger”