Someone asked me what we can do about living in such a backwards world. It's with pride that I present such a delicious opportunity to turn the tide in the face of overwhelming opposition.
Let's get real. Lines suck. When you find yourself standing in line, it's typical behavior to wait and mind your own business. We're all standing there being silent. Why? We're just waiting there anyway. It's not like we can really start to tackle those essays we've got to do, or be productive in any measure. Usually, I tell myself not to talk to people in line because they might be busy inside their own heads and I should respect that. But is that really the case? Could it be that they're just as bored as me? Could it be that they they're tired of thinking and rethinking the same to-do list over and over? Not only do I think it's a possibility, I think it's likely.
I mean, hell, sometimes the lines are short and it doesn't make sense to start up a conversation. But I spent 15 minutes yesterday on my feet in line next to the same two people for 15 minutes, silent as the grave. Tell me how the hell that makes sense. The day before that I rode the subway for 30 minutes sitting next to the same guy. Hell, if you live in a city you'll almost never see the same person twice so if you're afraid you'll put your foot in your mouth it's not like your reputation everywhere will be tarnished.
Ultimately, what we're talking about is public spaces. There are places in society where you just go up to people and start talking to them. Bars and coffee shops are examples, even though they're privately owned. Where interaction happens, ideas and organizations form. The renaissance was actually fueled by the coffee shops, where intellectual giants bounced ideas off each other until they came up with the philosophies we live by today. And put the other way, cults and dictatorships discourage interactions between citizens for fear that they might cooperate and work together to overthrow the leader. So don't be afraid to talk to strangers. The worst possible thing that could happen is you offend them and never see them again. Fortune favors the bold.