The strangers we didn’t know we miss
Relationships as we know them are over.
Journalists love to say things like ‘Relationships as we know them are over’ or ‘Post co-vid architecture will be unrecognizable’. ‘101 things on interactions in THE NEW NORMAL. Click here!’
Nobody can know for sure what is going to happen, but we do know that space and activity have always been linked. The way a school, a restaurant or even a city is built is influencing social interactions.
The new formats of bars and restaurants may not look like a lot, but smaller tables mean only some of the people from our circle are getting the invite for beers, while more distanced tables mean no new people in our beer circle. Extrapolating this, we can assume that some of our relationships will strengthen, while some of them will really weaken, but we can know for sure that the chances of making new friends lower with every new measure.
In the park near my house, you are allowed to sit on a bench only with members of your family. The supermarkets are telling me to stay 2 m away from my neighbor in front of me at line, the train companies are dissolving the random chit chat on long distances, while post pandemic architecture is currently developing to minimize the interactions between us.
We never think of the strangers in our lives but is it possible that we somehow miss them? Or even need them? I can already hear my introvert friends saying no, but surprisingly, a study conducted by University of Chicago showed that both introverts and extroverts benefit from talking with strangers.
A linked experiment made during commute showed that even though 40% of commuters predict they would have a less pleasant experience if a stranger would talk to them, all commuters tend to be happier after a chat with a stranger.
But connecting with others is not just making us happier. Feeling isolated proves to be as bad as smoking or obesity for our bodies, so connecting with others is also making us healthier too.
It’s a tough market for strangers now, but it’s important to not let the business go. They probably miss us too.