June 24, 2024

Strangers are a very weird concept, we encounter them everyday on the sidewalks, in school and even online. Yet it only takes a few of the right words at the right time for them to shift from an outsider to a name and a face in our social bubble. This ‘knowing’ of someone is a major theme in this weeks reading of James Hamblin’s piece, “How to Talk to Strangers.”The idea of our behavior radically transforming the moment we shift individuals from ‘strangers’ to ‘known’ in our mental registries/bubbles.

Recently, I had an interesting encounter that perfectly illustrated Hamblin’s theories with just an ordinary day at work. Coming back from lunch I crossed paths with a stranger. As apart of this course I was tasked with speaking to a stranger which I am no stranger to (pun intended), I spotted a man with a camera that I recognized, a FujiFilm camera. I walked past him and initiated a conversation around this camera we both have in common.

Our interaction stared a bit awkward as he was clearly taken aback, it evolved fairly regularly into discussions about why we are where we were and what led us to this common talking point (the FujiFilm camera), as we discussed our shared interests photography, aquarium and even our jobs. I learned the stranger (Teo) was from Mexico, who had switched his communications study in Mexico City for photography and cinematography in Canada.

As we found more common ground, I felt like he was less like an another face in the crowd to someone whom is very similar to me. In my eyes he ceased being a stranger and became someone I ‘knew.’ Through this talk and later phone call with our shared passions, the ease of conversation, or the potential of a future collaboration shift him towards what I would consider as an acquaintance.

Once he ceased being a stranger, I felt more comfortable to share my contact information and our interaction took a professional turn. He proposed the idea of helping out with fish photographing at the store. We even jumped on a call later to discuss the details, and I helped arrange a meeting with my boss for him which could potentially lead to a mutually beneficial arrangement.

Looking back, stepping out of my comfort zone to engage with a stranger was not a crazy or out of the ordinary for me, yet looking at it from a different lens makes you think… One conversation and suddenly, the ‘stranger’ label disappears.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Skip to content