The process of intentionally speaking to a stranger was not as much of an oddity as I thought it was. I never realized how often I actually interact with strangers everyday. However, the ways in which I interact with a stranger online and in-person is very different.
Although I spend a lot of time on the internet I found the experience of purchasing items to be an oddity.
As the new semester begins I am bargain hunting for textbooks through Facebook marketplace. When I message a seller, usually a fellow student, I often never start with a greeting. It is a short interaction with me bursting into their online space and asking for a price. Sometimes, if the product is not available the seller, will not even answer.
However, if an online transaction goes well I find myself no longer considering that person a stranger. If I am looking for something else to buy within the same subject, I try to check their pages to see if they have more listings. This type of casual connection we have over the internet leads me to feel unbothered as I scroll through their page looking at the things they are selling.
I can only imagine what this would be like in real life. Crashing open the door to some stranger’s home and rummaging through their belongings and memento’s of their life. As I do this, they ignore me as if I am not there.
Interacting in person
Due to Coronavirus, having a meaningful stranger interaction has been difficult. However from the last two weeks I find that people at the grocery store are more talkative.
I noticed that as I went through my routine at the grocery store a man and I were both getting apples and he commented on how good they look. I agreed that they were my favourite and then we both went on our way. Throughout the rest of my shopping trip, I thought about whether that comment was meant for me? Why did the man think that I looked inviting to talk to? Did he have some ulterior motive because I am a young girl and he a fully grown man? Why did he choose me?
This small moment at the grocery store made me really think about how I process real human interaction and I realize that on the internet I am able to be more confident because the tools of blocking and unfriending are extremely helpful. Whereas in the real world those protections do not exist.
In conclusion, it seems as though in-person interaction weighs more heavily on my mind. I cannot remember all the messages I sent out to sellers on Facebook but, I can generally remember most face to face interaction, and how I felt about that person at the moment.