Interacting with strangers online and in real life are two different issues in today’s society. Assessing the relative honest of online and face-to-face communication is complicated. There are many ways to meet people online such as dating sites, forums, blogs or social networking sites like Instagram and Facebook. To compare with real-life stranger encounter, online interaction has become a much easier way to do so.
For this week, we are supposed to find a stranger and engage them in a conversation. My first thought comes in mind is that “it is really difficult!” I believed that most of the teenagers in today’s society are the same as me that we are capable with online interactions but for strangers encounter real life is such a difficult task. I struggled and searched after class but that is uneasy, I gave up on that for a moment and went to my communication class tutorial. I sat next to a girl, we had eye-contact and we both smile to each other. During the tutorial, we had no conversations at all but just listen to the TA and answer her questions. At the end of the tutorial, we packed and ready to go. This girl pointed at my phone and said “Oh! I love your phone case, it is cute!” I thanked her and I told her that the phone case is cute but somehow slippery. She showed a “disliked” emote and I continually told her that although this phone case is slippery, I have to use it because my boyfriend gifted me that. We laughed and started conversations on studies. This is a surprise stranger encounter for me because I did not expect that we have conversations over this “phone case small talk”. I throwback and think about this experience, it taught me that maybe encountering strangers is not as difficult as what I think. Build the conversation by small talk and that is already a chance to meet new friends.
There is always the term “stranger danger” heard when talking about strangers encountering. It means a warning to children that to beware of the unknown adult, proceed with caution and be very careful what personal information you reveal. But nowadays, our relationship with strangers has been evolving and social media has torn down some of the barriers that used to protect us. Social media let us meet new people in everyday lives and it is easy as clicking a button. However, people most likely to lie about themselves online like physical appearance, education, career, relationship status or simply like their preferred names. It’s certainly true that it can be easier to lie online than offline, particularly about physical appearance. Social networking sites like Facebook has provided a major source of online interactions with others. But what we have to think about this is, how authenticity the personal profiles are? About the real personalities and their ideal personality.
As Hamblin states, “Go to work, and you know who you’ll see. Hang out with friends, and you know what to expect. But engage with a stranger, and at least something interesting might happen.”Hamblin, J. (2016). How to Talk to Strangers.
Encountering strangers online is easy but sometimes dangerous and “fake”. Comparing to engaging with a stranger in real life, people can talk and through conversations, you can learn about each other’s real self.