It’s been quite surprising how “anti social” the majority of people are and they probably don’t even realize it. Is it simply because we all lead busy lives, have no time to look around and smile anymore, simply not interested in what is going on around us, or that if it doesn’t happen in our immediate space, it doesn’t exist? I think it’s probably a mixture of all four.
It’s a snow day here in Indiana today. Most people are deciding to stay inside. I decided to do the opposite and venture out for some daily vitamin D. (I mentioned that joke to my boyfriend before I left and he wasn’t very amused.) I live downtown and it’s pretty friendly here. Most people my age who retire downtown from the college life across the river are Purdue teacher assistants and the like. The demographic is a lot of twenty somethings trying to figure out life still, like myself.
On my walk to my favorite coffee shop, Star City Coffee and Ale House I passed two men. The first one was passive and mostly looked to his feet. I always try to make eye contact with people on the street because it gets me out of my comfort zone, even for a second or two. I smiled at the first man as he glanced up from the icy sidewalk. He saw my smile and quickly glanced down. “I tried at least”, I thought to myself.
As I was coming up to the coffee shop I passed another man with a coffee in his mitten who had obviously just come from my destination. Unlike the first man this one smiled big in my direction as we passed by each other. As soon as he smiled at me I did something astonishing, I managed a small grin and then hastily looked down to the icy sidewalk. As he passed I couldn’t believe I had just done what the first man had done to me when I was so confident to look someone in the eye and smile just minutes before.
What makes us do this? Why do strangers walking on the sidewalk feel the need to never interact in a meaningful way with one another? Why was I completely confident with someone who wasn’t and then turn around and be the opposite when someone else was confident?
I personally believe it’s something we learn. Growing up if we don’t see our parents or guardians acknowledge someone on the street just for the sake of doing so, then why would we once we’re grown enough to walk down the sidewalks of our town? It’s something that can be changed. But no change can ever occur without conscious effort. So, lets all smile at each other!
Quote taken from Linda Coles on LinkedIn