Sunday, July 24, 2005

Hi Neighbour!

When you see a stranger on the street what do you do? Avoid eye contact? Pretend they aren't there? Or do you smile and say hello? What about your neighbours, the people in your building? Do you feel awkward with them in the elevator?

What about when someone you don't know smiles and says hello to you on the street? It's weird isn't it? How do you feel about those people who sing to themselves? How many of these questions am I going to ask?

I'm trying to make a point about how we are afraid of our neighbours. When I see a happy person walking down the street, humming or whistling or singing or whatever, I think - that person must have a screw loose. But when I think about it more, I am the crazy one. Why is it so weird when someone is displaying to the world around them that they are happy? And they want to spread that happiness around them by smiling and greeting strangers? Why is the average person put off by this kind of behaviour?

There are a couple of reasons I think. A lot of us are just so concerned with our own little lives that we think we have no time to get to know the people around us. And we are afraid of them. We are afraid of the unknown. We think "that singing man must be crazy, I better not talk to him or acknowledge him or he might hurt me". Kids are taught from an early age not to talk to strangers. That's fine. Kids are naive see the good in everyone. But does that mean that when we become adults we see the bad in everyone? With all the hatred manifesting itself all over the world right now how are we supposed to trust the people around us? We are becoming more and more afraid.

The headlines say "WE ARE NOT AFRAID", followed by another headline "COULD THIS HAPPEN CLOSE TO HOME?" You never know if the person next to you on the bus has a bomb in their bag. Should we let our ever-increasing fear enculturation get the best of us?

I think it can only be a good thing if we learn more about our neighbours at home and internationally, rather than making assumptions and relying on propaganda machines to tell us what to fear. If we don't we're just going to become a bunch of hermits locked in our homes relying on technology as our real-world interface.

3 Comments:

Blogger David said...

Just think of the long term social effects iPods and the like will have on future generations ability to seclude themselves from socialization even while in public. Sadly I don't think this trend will be reversing any time soon.

Which in a way is good for me; I try to smile at every well dressed woman walking down the street, and the more people that begin to isolate themselves the more likely I'm going to end up eventually scoring with one of them! Just don't try to picture it, it's not a pretty site :)

4:23 PM  
Blogger mister mysterio said...

good points, having lived in both a rural and urban setting you can totally see everyones trust tighten as they move about cities as opposed to the countryside, myself included

i also think the comment looking at the bright side of the situation and being friendly to the well dressed women is pretty funny

6:25 PM  
Anonymous vicki said...

love it Jessica

11:06 PM  

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