Talking to strangers

When we’re little our parents spend a lot of time trying to teach us right from wrong and how to be responsible and safe. Then we grow up and somewhere along the line we discover that they weren’t always right…

My mother use to tell me not to speak to strangers. It seems very simple and logical. I’m sure I’ll tell my kids the same thing one day. But when you’re 4 everyone is pretty much a stranger so if we were to take it literally, we’d never make any friends or even be afraid to raise our hand in the classroom because our teacher qualifies as a stranger to some extent. So how do we know that some people are bad and dangerous and fall into the category of stranger when we’re little and somehow when we’re all grown up, we end up surrounded by strangers we’ve let in only to realize they will hurt us more than the ones we wouldn’t let in?

If I honestly look at my life right now, one of the best parts of my day is to talk to people I have never met and most of them I probably never will. Talking to random strangers about everything to the extent where most of them know me better than my family ever could. In case you’re not caught up yet: I’m talking about Twitter. I get to talk to people who have nothing in common with me except our matching free time. I get to experience the world from someone else’s perspective. And then one day you wake up and something really exciting happened and instead of calling your best friend or your mother or your favourite cousin, you can’t wait to share it with this stranger on the other side of the world, you can only recognize through their ip address.

So this is what our mothers tried to protect us from? Of course I know that’s not true… They just don’t want us to get into a car with a guy will kidnap us. Or maybe they’re afraid that we’ll meet other people who will influence us more than they can… This is fair enough but in a way they are narrowing our view and pretty much forcing us to rebel and run from them in order to find our own perspective. Think about it, it’s not that farfetched! They want to protect us by keeping certain things from us and it works… for a while… As a parent it’s hard to define where that line is. Do you answer every question your children ask even when you think they are too young to know the truth or that the truth will hurt them? Well obviously my answer is: Yes! But then again, I don’t have kids yet!

My parents answered every question I ever had and I appreciate it because I like knowing things but it also made me older than the years I carry. If I had to choose, I wouldn’t change it but maybe I’ll want to protect my kids for a bit longer, instead of dealing with them as adults when they are only 4… As far as strangers go, I think we should all go back to being little kids and trusting our inner voice to know which people we can trust and which we should stay away from… Maybe our civilization is moving in that direction, where we are more willing to share our deepest thoughts and fears through blogs to anyone who’ll read it. And actively converse with people whose name we barely know about the daily ins and outs of our lives through Twitter and have public fights and conversations for all to see.

We live in a world where you can find out almost anything about anyone if you look hard enough and it’s like we’re not afraid. Not afraid of being judged or hurt or laughed at. If we can do this on the net, does that make it easier for us to do the same in real life? Has the internet become so intertwined in our lives that it can no longer be considered separate from ‘real life’? Is it a good thing that we’d rather vent our frustrations to a million strangers on a website than fight it out with the people we share a house with? Maybe, maybe not…. Maybe it just gives us a way to come to grips with what we’re actually feeling so that we can skip the confusion and annoying bickering and skip straight to the deep stuff and making it all better.

I like talking to strangers and learning something new, not just about them and their lives but usually I also end up learning something about myself. I’m also learning to trust that not everyone is out to hurt me and even if they do, I’ll survive!

Just a thought,

AM

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