Many of us remember our parents’ phrase from childhood: “Don’t talk to strangers!”. At a young age, this really makes sense. But the fact is that over the years we’ve very rarely ended up chatting with strangers. The reasons are different for everyone. Some are shy, some are too suspicious, and some simply do not need new friends.
But today let’s try to figure out whether communication with strangers is really so bad? Or is it quite the opposite? We may surprise you!
- 1 Communication with strangers: a psychologist’s opinion
- 2 Do you feel like part of society?
- 3 How can you communicate with strangers in the current reality and gain real benefits from this interaction?
- 4 Don’t be shy — chat to a stranger
Communication with strangers: a psychologist’s opinion
For many years of her life, the topic of communication with strangers and unfamiliar people was a focus for Juliana Schroeder, a psychologist at the University of California at Berkeley. She highlights two main benefits of regularly interacting with strangers.
Improving your emotional state
We’re used to looking away on public transport and in the street, at parties we prefer to talk only with a couple of familiar people, and in an unfamiliar company we are mostly silent so as not to attract other people’s attention. Any conversation with a stranger to us seems awkward and forced.
Juliana Schroeder and her colleagues conducted an experiment — they gathered a group of people who, according to their instructions, had to speak with a fellow traveler on public transport or with a taxi driver. In the end, both those who spoke and those with whom they spoke said that the trip left them feeling it had been a pleasant experience.
So why then are we silent and don’t try to talk to people?
The reason is that everyone around you is silent, and this seems right, natural. Try to imagine a bus full of passengers. You walk in, sit next to a stranger and suddenly notice that everyone around you is chatting. They welcome new passengers, start conversations with each other, smile, tell stories. Only you and the person next to you are silent. Chances are, you too will eventually start a conversation. Because if everyone speaks but you, you may look like the odd one out. At the very least, you’ll ask the person sitting next to you, “What’s going on here?” This is the first step towards starting a conversation.
Benefits for the brain
Another study by Juliana Schroeder, called “Friends (and Sometimes Enemies) With Cognitive Benefits”, showed that even a short conversation with a stranger activates mental processes and increases executive brain functions. This, in turn, boosts concentration and organization, and improves planning and prioritization skills.
Again, an experiment was conducted. The participants were divided into three groups. The first group had friendly conversations for ten minutes, the second argued about something, and the third was silent the entire time. After that, all three groups underwent cognitive tests aimed at using the executive functions of the brain. It was the first group that showed the best results, while the silent group were last.
Do you feel like part of society?
Kio Stark, author of When You Meet a Stranger, has made an enormous contribution to the study of the influence of communication with strangers on our daily life. Keo says that in many parts of the world, people are raised so that they consider strangers by default dangerous, capable of causing harm. This is not right. Total distrust of strangers and fear of starting a normal everyday conversation are what’s actually harmful and dangerous for a person.
According to Kio Stark, communication with strangers is useful for us for at least two reasons:
Chatting with strangers makes us feel like part of society
Numerous studies show that we are more honest with strangers than with friends. It is easier to tell them about your problems with less fear of condemnation or misunderstanding. In addition, if you communicate only with a certain narrow circle of people, then you create a kind of vacuum around you, beyond which you do not go. The rest of society finds itself outside this “bubble”, and you do not feel like a part of it.
By talking to a stranger, you build stronger emotional contact
When you start a conversation with a stranger, it’s harder for you to predict in which direction your communication will go. Often, banal phrases about the weather develop into very deep conversations on topics that you don’t discuss even with your closest friends. You are more open, unafraid that someone will tell friends or family about your thoughts and words. It is easier for you to be yourself, and not to hide behind an artificial persona.
How can you communicate with strangers in the current reality and gain real benefits from this interaction?
When at the end of 2019 the world started talking about some new virus in China, no one could have thought the world was on the verge of global change. Two years have passed, and the world has not yet returned to the previous rhythm of life. Maybe it will never return.
Nowadays, offline dating is a real luxury for many people. Not everyone is ready to start a one-on-one conversation in the real world. And it’s not just the fear of contracting the coronavirus. The human mentality is changing. Even walking up to a stranger and saying “Hi, great weather we’re having today” seems somehow completely wrong, unacceptable and stupid. Plus it’s very difficult to predict how a person will react to your attempt to speak. Perhaps they will smile and keep the conversation going. Or maybe call the police and pepper spray you in the face. This is the kind of time we live in — it’s difficult to get to know each other on the street.
Fortunately, there’s an alternative, and it is available to everyone!
Social networks, dating sites and apps, and video chat with strangers
Already in 2021, the number of Internet users in the world is 4.66 billion people. Of these, 4.2 billion are active users of social networks, and in the last 12 months alone, their number has increased by 490 million.
The audience of almost all online platforms — social networks, dating sites and random video chat sites — is constantly growing. This is due to several factors:
- The total population of the planet is growing. More than 7.8 billion people now live on earth.
- Development of Internet technologies. Network access is becoming more common, including in third world countries.
- The pandemic and the new realities of life are forcing people to seek interaction on the Web.
What’s important to understand here? You can use any of these services, but not all of them can replace chatting with strangers from a psychological point of view.
For example, on social networks, we mainly communicate with friends or relatives. Communication with strangers here is often limited to short correspondence in the comments under a post or a couple of messages in chat.
With dating sites and applications, not everything is clear either. Much here is tied to shared interests, location, the work of the internal algorithms of a particular service. That is, the site decides who you’ll communicate with. Any spontaneity disappears, as if the ‘right’ person is being served up to you straight away.
This is where random chats with strangers come in — platforms where every meeting is tied to chance. You’ll never guess what kind of person will be in front of you the next second, what they’re fond of, where they live, how old they are, and so on, and that’s great! Video chats with strangers such as https://videochat.chat/random, Chatrandom.com, Ome.tv, Chathub.cam are almost a complete replacement for offline dating, only safer and more comfortable. You see the other user in front of you, hear their voice and tone, read the mood — everything is like in a real meeting. Isn’t this the best cure for loneliness in the 21st century, and a great opportunity to feel like a part of society?
Don’t be shy — chat to a stranger
Chatting with strangers is completely normal, and it’s useful, primarily for you! And if you do not have the opportunity to properly meet and communicate offline, there’s no excuse to ignore online dating.
Modern people have a lot of opportunities to find interesting chat partners on the Internet — social networks, random video chats, dating sites and applications, themed forums and even multiplayer computer games. Just choose which format works best for you and go for it! It is either free or very cheap. And the benefits of communication with the outside world are much greater than you’d get from just sitting at home staring at the wallpaper!
Enjoy your communication, interesting acquaintances and vivid impressions of new chat partners. We’re sure that there are many interesting experiences waiting for you!