In this day and age, it’s quite apparent that people are connecting everywhere. From the local pub to the cafe across the street, from the stands at the little league baseball field to one of the seemingly infinite number of online chat rooms, people are constantly connecting with each other.
Gone are the days of never talking to strangers. Gone are the days when people proclaimed that all chat rooms are dangerous. Gone are the days when your social circle was limited to your coworkers around the water cooler.
Thanks to our advances in communication, we can connect with whomever we want from wherever we want. If you so choose, you can have friends from all over the world while never stepping foot outside your front door (editor’s note: not recommended).
However, when connecting is such an easy thing to do, why is it that some people still find it hard (and almost scary) to take part in? Why do some people still hold “never talk to strangers” as their mantra?
I personally believe it is because of these three big reasons:
1. News and media
As a kid growing up, there wasn’t a day I watched TV that there wasn’t an announcement of something horrible. Titles similar to “BREAKING NEWS: KIDNAPPER ON THE LOOSE” or “INTERNET PREDATOR STRIKES AGAIN” would normally pop up across the screen. While it’s important to know what’s going on the world, these messages made it seem like the only way to avoid instances like this are to stop going out at night and stay out of every online community.
2. Overbearing Parents
Parents play a big part in our ability to connect with others, and overprotective ones tend to hinder that ability. Overbearing parents tend to keep their children close to them (partly due to the risk touched upon in the first point) and are always ready to retort their child’s plea for adventure with the remark, “You’re too young to understand.” In effect, this implants in their minds a certain misconception that you have to be a certain age before you can make your own decisions, even on things that require you to break out of your comfort zone.
3. Fear of rejection
Rejection is one of the main reasons people don’t just get out there and start connecting. They think if they let themselves become transparent (letting people see the ‘real’ them), they’ll be exiled and condemned as a weirdo. This leads people to falsely believe that the only people who could ever truly understand their ‘real’ selves are themselves.
How do we fix these problems and start connecting?
The solution to all of these problems is quite simple really: all you have to do is take fate into your own hands.
In each of the problems I’ve listed above, you’re giving the power of owning your fate into the control of someone else. In the first scenario, it’s the news and media, in the second, it’s your parents, and in the third, it’s to just about everybody else.
You have to take charge of your life: you have to connect. I doubt people who’ve lived the best lives stayed in the same place for too long or talked to the same people forever. They broadened their horizons and added a little diversity into the mix.
They risked rejection and put themselves out there.
You’re not a kid anymore. The outdated saying of ‘never talk to strangers’ doesn’t apply. Talk to the ones you resonate with, and pass by the ones you don’t.
It’s never too late to start connecting with others, but if you keep waiting until you’re 100% comfortable connecting, it just might be.
Photo by James Jordan