Is it safe to talk to Familiar Strangers?
I am not sure who coined the phrase 'familiar strangers', but I have been thinking about it a lot since I gave up my car and started to use public transport (mainly trains). It amuses and often also distresses me to watch people as they travel to and from their work pens. The majority are creatures of habit and are seen every day in the same place, with the same propoganda/pacifying sheet (sorry newspaper), eyes averted from all of the other people that they also see every day, as if they were scared that to communicate would bring on a personal armageddon and certain mental ill health. They face the track and don't turn to see the sun rise, or look up to marvel at the beauty of the clouds, or moon. I picked a subject (OK a nice looking female - hey I'm not dead yet!) and studied her habits for a few days before 'moving in' and saying 'hi'. It was polite and followed by a few typically British remarks about the weather. She responded quite well, but I could sense the suspicion and even anger in her at being so woken from her trance. The next morning she had moved down the platform to start the process of gaining a new space slot for herself amongst the 'sane' people. Since then I have 'dislodged' three other people, one more female and two male. I am doing wrong and if so why? Could I be 'doing a Matrix' on these poor people and damaging their well being by acting in what was instilled in me as a child as 'normal' social interaction'?
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