It might seem like an iron-clad rule, but here are three places where it’s okay to go ahead and chat with a stranger.
By Niamh Murphy
For many of us these days, social etiquette among strangers involves staying as far away to other people as possible, not making eye contact, and most importantly, never talking to anyone. Now, there is something to be said for respecting personal space. But as cities and towns grow, new people move in and out of our neighbourhoods, we are becoming more detached from the people around us. It makes it harder to connect with the people around us, even if it’s just a friendly wave now and again. This non-community feels as if it’s becoming the standard for many areas, not only in the UK but also in other countries.
It’s hard to break this cycle of polite isolation, but there are still places where friendships can be formed and connections shared. So where are they?
This one is so obvious you may have forgotten about it. The pub is one of the most common places where people come together. The idea of going for a “social one” doesn’t have to be just about going to meet you friends. It can be a great way to strike up a conversation with someone new and to build up connections. Standing at the bar can be the perfect opportunity to start chatting to the other person who is waiting to get served. You don’t necessarily need to be drinking alcohol to enjoy this sort of togetherness; go for a lime & soda or head to a neighbourhood coffee shop to get a similar friendly vibe.
The concept of open streets started 40 years ago in Southern American. Now Bogotà, a Colombian city, closes 120km of the city to cars and opens it to walkers and cyclists every Sunday. The people replace cars, and the streets become “paved parks” where people of all ages come together. It is so popular that a third of the city’s population takes part. The concept has just come to our own neighbourhood of Southwark in London, but you can find these sorts of street parties all over the world.
During the summer months each weekend there is a festival on somewhere. Festivals are another opportunity where you can meet like-minded people. Love a really obscure band? Well if you are watching them on stage you are probably not the only one there who loves their music. You know you’ve got something in common; why not strike up a conversation?
These are just 3 of the example that we can think of. But the possibilities are endless; you next opportunity to connect could be right around the corner.
Image of Southwark Open Streets by John Parnell, via Flickr Creative Commons.