“Don’t talk to strangers.” It’s one of the oldest lessons in the book. It’s right up there with looking both ways before crossing the street. When you’re a kid, the lesson is valid. But when you’re an adult, I say throw it out the window. Sorry, Mom.
Say hi to strangers. That’s my 60-second idea to improve the world. It may sound creepy, but hear me out. I walk around Bucknell’s campus every day and without fail, when two people who don’t know one another pass each other, they look in opposite directions, they stare blankly ahead, or they whip out their cell phones and pretend to be texting. It’s ridiculous. We’re all part of a community here and we don’t even feel comfortable enough to look at each other, to smile at each other, and god forbid, to say hi to one another? This has got to be fixed.
We only ever think about the lives we touch of people we know. Our friends, our families, our boyfriends, our girlfriends, our colleagues. But what about touching people’s lives we don’t know? A smile or a hello to a stranger could do just that.
One of my absolute favorite things is to make new friends. Often, we make friends from mutual connections. But what about all the people that fall outside our social circles? We’re missing out on them just because we’re a little shy, just because we don’t know how it will turn out if we break the silence between strangers and utter that single two-letter word: “Hi.” As people, we thrive on human connection. Yet by being afraid to talk to strangers, we are limiting ourselves.
The next stranger you see, say hi. I dare you. You may fall in love. You may hate each other. You may learn something new. You may become best friends. Either way, no matter how it ends up, it’s worth a shot.