I’m really lucky to be in Columbus, Ohio.
Having been in one major city for the past nearly 10 years, I’ve been able to dig deeply into different communities here, and create a good name for myself in a handful of circles.
Because I pushed myself to “network” and volunteer in the community several years ago, it’s actually not very difficult for me to meet new people now. At some point, my “network” hit some critical mass where there is generally someone introducing me to someone else, or being referred to me directly.
Lately, I’ve noticed that I’ve become much less likely to actively engage strangers. I don’t know if it’s because I feel like I don’t have to, or something else.
In an interview I was listening to recently with political scientist Ian Bremmer, he told a story about jury duty.
He compared his most recent experience of jury duty to an experience he had some years ago. He noted that most recently during down time at jury duty, he looked around the room and everyone was into their phones and not communicating with one another.
Several years ago, during “down time,” he said he and others were creating conversation.
He also referenced this 2011 study in Chicago where researchers paid individuals to talk with one another on the trains to study the effects.
The researchers found that while people believed that others wouldn’t want to talk with them on the train, the results showed people had a much happier and more pleasant experience when talking with others on the train.
Bremmer hypothesized that because we have social media with feeds curated and optimized for giving us exactly what we want to see, we default to those feeds as opposed to the “risky” opportunity to talk with a stranger.
I’m certainly in this camp but I really admire people who make that first move. So I’m trying to “go first” in an interaction. It’s part of my focus on being more vulnerable, and when I do convince myself to make the leap, I am grateful that I did.