Why Is It Unusual To Be Personal With Strangers?

“If you can get over this initial distrust that people have of strangers, you can do remarkable things” – Pierre Omidyar

We’ve all found ourselves in a situation at some point or another where we’ve encountered an unusually chatty stranger, whether it be excessive small talk or startlingly personal discussions, and honestly it can be a bit of an uncomfortable or a subtly astonishing experience. Everyone comes from all sorts of different backgrounds and present themselves in a variety of different personas they’ve developed throughout whatever path led up in their life to the moment they ended up speaking to you, and for some it may seem a bit socially repelling to interact with someone with a complex personality with seemingly little to no filter. The question I suppose I’m asking here is, why do people normally feel unsettled by this?

This is a question I’ve pondered after not only my own experiences, but with other strangers telling me strangely personal information as well, but I start to wonder if there’s any reason to be uncomfortable. In the larger perspective, we’re all similar in the sense that we’re all humans sharing the same world going through infinitely diverse experiences, so why should it be weird to open up to another person? While there certainly is a time and a place for all of that, I absolutely support the idea that people are more than welcome to be open with me about whatever they feel comfortable sharing. Sometimes there’s a strange comfort in confiding in a stranger or distant friend considering they have little to no connection with anything else in your life, and there’s probably a good chance you’ll never run into that stranger again, so what’s the harm in venting frustrations a bit?

Everyone wants to be heard by someone, and while it varies from person to person, I think it’s absolutely beautiful when people, strangers or not, can come together and skip over the surface small talk and just say what they really feel or open up about what’s going on in their lives. The sincerity and genuine aspect of the human condition is something that’s become a bit of a taboo in socializing, and while I’m not suggesting you speak to anyone and everyone like they’re your therapist, I do believe that it’s incredibly generous to give someone the time of day to listen to whatever it is they’ve got going on.

It’s an obscure idea I’ve had and thought about from time to time, and I still sometimes think about strangers I’ve met at airports, taxi drivers, people I’ve sat next to on the bus or in classes, etc, and the things they’ve told me that I felt were meaningful in the overall scheme of self-expression of our humanity and personal emotions. It’s definitely food for thought, and to be utilized in moderation I suppose.

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