Opinion by Jas Bains.
I’m great at socialising with people as long as they have a keen interest in useless facts. For example, I am probably the only person I’ve ever met that knows what those small black dots on the front of a shark’s snout are called (ampullae of lorenzini if you were wondering and if you weren’t, it doesn’t make it any less true). So what will your first face-to-face conversation be once we’ve left Coronavirus behind? With strangers that is, not just the Amazon delivery bloke – I never seem to catch mine but I try to yell my thanks to them whenever I manage to catch them sprinting towards their van. That isn’t really a conversation though.
Down here in the South of England (that’s anything below Coventry in my rightful opinion) we aren’t quite as easy to talk to as our Northern counterparts. For example, I had a conversation on a tube and I felt that I was being stared at for talking. Granted, I was by myself and I was discussing my dinner plans. Which were also by myself. Either way, we don’t have a particularly good reputation for starting conversation with strangers. Why is this? Do we fear entering unknown territory that badly? Maybe it’s the scenarios we create in our heads? I mean of course, starting a conversation with the person sat next to you doesn’t always guarantee that they won’t turn in to a crocodile so sometimes we just have to go for the safer option. Saves them getting…snappy. What’s the safer option? Not talking at all. So we carry on our journey and subsequently, our lives as well not knowing about this mysterious stranger/crocodile.
I like to think statistically about things like this. How many people have we avoided talking to? How many of those people are billionaires just dying to offload some of that cumbersome excessive wealth to absolutely any perfect stranger? I’d like to think in all the journeys I’ve taken that it has to be more than zero. All I had to do was start talking to someone and I’d be in for a chance of becoming that much richer. But then you, the reader, would be without my articles. That makes me sad. So I dedicate my silences to you all.
Or is there something to be had from that enrichment? Okay, you might not catch Tony Stark on a tube but there should still be something one gains from unfamiliar interaction. I’ll bet you weren’t born with the friend you have now for example, so it took some bravery for 3-year-old you to waddle over to someone else and entrap them with your friendship. I’m really difficult to make friends with personally because I overshare. ‘Hi, I’m Jas. I really wish milkshakes were more readily available’ is not, for example, something that would make me too many friends beyond the age of 6. We still benefit from talking to one another so do your best to talk to a stranger today.*
*Disclaimer: I hold no accountability for any consequences of this. Please do not refer to my article if anything bad happens.