In a world where there is a lot of negativity being broadcast on the news 24/7 and click bait headlines, it is good to instill a sense of happiness in the youth of today by being friendly.
Walking places a lot of people are distracted by their phones and hardly make eye contact anymore of if they do they make eye contact and turn away. (Maybe I'm just butt ugly I dunno).
Kid however all seem to enjoy a quick smile/eye contact.
I've noticed that consciously thinking about something that makes me very happy, or something I find funny, will make that happy emotion show on my face. When I project happy into the world, I get a lot more happy back - people (I'm talking about adults here) seem drawn to strangers in a good mood. When I'm consciously trying to be happy, people are much more likely to smile and say hello.
And maybe it's confirmation bias, but when I'm trying to project happiness, and when I try to really smile at people and say good morning and mean it, I notice a lot of times that people seem to walk away with a little more pep. Almost like "wow, some stranger just genuinely wished me a good morning."
This all could be cause I live in Santa Monica and people out here tend to be happier than they did in NYC.
Consider: Containerized city. 0-population cities where rapid transit brings people in during active-hours only? Walkable areas being vehicles themselves, forceably removing people after N-hours and dumping them in to less-dense habitation areas?
And I have trouble understanding what you are actually suggesting, but it seems to be an entirely technocratic take ignoring what actually makes cities liveable, with possibly some dehumanisation of homeless people thrown in for extra discredit?
That said my interactions with strangers are still hit or miss, but people tend to be very open regardless and now I have a lot of crazy random interaction stories to tell.
People lament a loss of community and then without irony, get on FB and worry that every unfamiliar vehicle passing through the neighborhood is a potential burglar.
We can try to meet everyone who comes through and have a community, or we can think every stranger is dangerous, but we can't do both. Having a community requires some vulnerability, as you say.
Think about it - as a potential burglar, which is a more attractive target? A neighborhood where everyone silently ignores you or one where people notice you, make eye contact, wave, and say hello?
tl;dr: Saying 'hello' is a just as effective defensive strategy as it is being friendly to your fellow neighbor.
Elevators are a great example, just a quick “have a great day / night” seems to make people happy.
Of course, on a busy sidewalk downtown, you wouldn't do the same — that'd be just weird. But in the neighborhood when it’s quiet, it's a nice exchange of confirmation signals that while we're strangers, we're not just strangers, we're neighbors.
While I generally like kids, I can't say I am particularly high on the "loves kids" scale. I honestly can't help but smile & wave at a kid or baby that looks at me. The sense of wonder and fascination in their eyes is incredible.
"Kipling Williams, a Purdue University psychologist, studied how people felt when a young woman walked by them and either made eye contact, made eye contact while smiling, or completely ignored them. Even brief eye contact increased people's sense of inclusion and belonging."
"Just that brief acknowledgment, that brief glance — with or without a smile — made them at least temporarily feel more socially connected," Williams says. And it works both ways. Those that had been "looked through" felt even more disconnected than the control group.
I am a father of two kids. I can be walking on the sidewalk with my kids, and see another parent, maybe a mom, smile and say hello, it's totally fine.
Same situation, but maybe my kids are not with me, maybe they're in school. Suddenly I'm a strange man saying hello at a mom and her kids. A real danger situation! Hold onto your bag, hold the kids extra tight, reach for the pepper spray. But I am the same person in both situations.
But mindful of this, I keep a respectful distance in the latter case.
From time to time, a colleague brings their child to work (because childcare fell through, or something), and they get to interact with strangers! It's weird, they are afraid, they don't know what to say, they generally don't know how to conduct themselves. Oftentimes they are distractingly loud, can't entertain themselves and generally annoy everyone within earshot. And since you are not a parent you are not supposed to discipline the little shits!
Soon they are teenagers and enter the working environment, still without social experience. The Apocalypse is on its way.
and to the OP's point, i'm not a particularly social person, but i love smiling and waving at babies. it's as rewarding to you as it is to the baby. =)
On the other hand if you remove the question of gender I would have to admit that many in the US are more guarded with strangers than people tend to be in other places I've been.
I say good morning to most people I see, we are friendly here in South Wales, but I don’t risk appearing on anyone’s microaggression blog or outrage twitter.
It was a way of selling newspapers.
So now you have to have kids of your own in proximity or grandchildren in proximity to be part of the club of people allowed to speak with a child. Failing that you need a full criminal records check.
During my own childhood I was out and about all hours of day and night delivering newspapers, babysitting, doing gardening jobs, walking/cycling/hitching to get to places generally alone. We didn't have the 'p' word back then and a certain amount of being sensible was expected. Not so long ago I had a chat with my sister about who had an un-natural interest in our childhood selves in the village and neighbouring area. The list was quite a long one, my sister being exposed to by people I considered normal and vice-versa.
We even had Fred West - a notorious murderer - parked up in his van at a local spot. Being lured in to a house or a strange car was just one of those things to watch out for, plus people would give you strange gifts.
But the thing was that we - my sister and myself - were the local community. If anything did happen to us then you could guarantee that someone would call our mum to complain they had not had their paper delivered, or someone would see us enter a house to not exit. For us it would be impossible for us to travel anywhere without being observed. Hitch-hiking was also something we did, but when you know half the cars on the road then you expect a lift.
We actually interacted with the crazies fully knowing that there wasn't something quite right about them. We also told our mum about unwanted advances and strange gifts that came our way. Our mother never got the police involved. In our recent recollections there were a dozen or so where a line had been crossed or other evidence existed. Would the community have been better had there been court cases? Not really, common sense by us and the fact that it was a community worked.
Had the moral panic existed then and had we been locked away lest we meet someone that smiled at kids then we would have also lost out from the kind grown-ups that went the extra mile for us. We could get lifts into town, every school history project was done with the help of some local senior citizen, to earn money we had to do no more than walk out the door and, for every weird person there were a dozen that would be looking out for us.
I used to do eye contact with dogs, against Cesar's advice, since I love dogs, but I got bit by a dog (on a leash) recently, so I avoid eye contact with dogs now.
You can also graduate to removing almost all notifications from your phone. I say almost all because the beauty of Slack is that it never differentiated between being mobile or at a desktop (like Skype did) so you might need notifications from your work Slack to appear if you are not really present. Also, get rid of non-work Slacks on your phone, if you spend too much time on Slack on your phone, it could help eliminate more potential distractions.
The next level is to remove all native applications for anything that you think might distract you. It is much, much harder to fall into the rabbit hole of infinite scroll type binging with a mobile web experience. There is just enough friction with mobile web to snap you out of your trance, usually.
like via Twitter or Instagram or Facebook or SMS or WhatsApp or one of your many Slacks or Discord or Google Hangout or your work email or your other personal email or....
There are so many ways to communicate now and that's not necessarily a bad thing but I definitely get communication fatigue.
Yes, the idea to remove most distractions is to limit those communication mediums that give you near-instantaneous notifications of “activity”. Ignore all communication via all other modes until you decide, if ever, to check. There is a reason why some people communicate solely via Instagram DMs or Snapchat (it is where they live their lives).
I do not use Facebook regularly but I do keep the account. I’ve noticed that Facebook will send an email notification if something important happened, like someone’s parent passing away.
Usually, if someone who you know is calling your phone, it is probably important. Monitoring services like PagerDuty even allow you to “self escalate” from a text message to an automated call, for this reason. PagerDuty uses the same set of numbers so they could be added to a contact if you are whitelisting all incoming phone calls.
Life happens. Your wife falls and breaks her wrist. Your mom has a heart attack. They want you now, not when you deign to look at your communications. And until you do look, you won't know if it's that she broke her wrist or that she had a heart attack.
If you are disconnected enough from other people that nobody has a valid demand on your attention, then you're part of the problem of social disconnection.
People usually can wait. For the rare case where they can’t, there are even ways to poke through Do Not Disturb mode.
IIRC iOS also has a feature which allows through someone who rings multiple times in quick-ish succession?
Responding to an ambiguous worry of an emergency that may never even occur during your lifetime by allowing yourself to be continually interrupted by spammers (traditional call-based and new app-based) is actually a decent illustration of the overarching societal problem.
The straw that broke the camel's back in this case was the behavior of the Messenger notifications. They filled messenger with so many bullshit "friendaversary" and other notices that I stopped paying attention and I missed my real, actual friends who were trying to get in touch with me. Such a transparent Skinner box, I couldn't respect myself if I went along with that kind of manipulation. Then when I found it's basically impossible to disable Messenger it became clear that I had to delete it all. I'll download my data from them and call it a day.
It's such a shame because Facebook put me in touch with a number of people that I only sent a Christmas card to, if at all. But I think the nature of these social networks is that the more addictive and manipulative ones quickly crowd out the decent ones. Metcalfe's Law seemed like a great thing until you realize that the growth has to be exponential to have a chance of "winning".
I've got a growing appreciation for rituals that seem silly, worthless or out-dated. If the ritual has survived this long, deep examination is in order before altering or dismissing it.
"The sabbath was created for man, not man for the sabbath."
Disconnecting is good for many as a general practice. I myself have a "no technology day" once a month or so. And certainly taking a population recently freed from slavery and instituting a labor law ensuring a weekend was a great idea (whoever thought of it).
But that's the nice thing about weekends - each of us get to spend them as we choose.
If you are feeling disconnected from your loved ones and want to mutually agree to put away your phones, awesome.
But likewise, if you had a rough week and want to lose yourself in binge watching Stranger Things, that's cool too.
Let's not fall back into the ways of every generations before us in how we consider younger trends as we age. Even chess was condemned as corrupting the youth in its day.
A central theme to the success of all life in this world is balance. If you feel out of balance, adjust your own life accordingly to regain it. But it would probably be unwise to assume the balance that works for one works for all.
I doubt any one of us has an identical idea of what living the perfect life looks like. All we can do is figure out what our own version of that picture looks like and do our best to realize it.
They do adopt it - but very slowly and only to enhance their community.
Fascinating article by Kevin Kelly on Amish Hackers:
And what the deal with likes on facebook. Too busy posting pictures of what they're eating to listen quietly to the adults discussing aunt Joann's ridiculous choice of hat. Seriously, it's August so she should really know not to wear a green hat when we all go to watch the 10 hours of reruns of Survivor.
EDIT: 'News' article on the web complains about technology trying to steal our attention from 'the true reality' and it does this by employing a click bait title and pairs the message proper with multiple visual ads.
But "good day sir" lacks a verb and subject/object, so it's not even a sentence. On the other hand, "what is up" and "how is it hanging" are proper interrogative sentences, as far as grammar is concerned anyway.
I often get preached at about how bad social media is. The irony is that I don't have any, and the people preaching at me do.
My best theory: I suspect both online and offline, people "parrot" ideas 90% of the time. They hear an idea, repeat it without much thought, if it resonates well they repeat it more.
I think the reason people do this in-person is the same as they do it online. They say things not because they have deeply reflected on all the ramifications and sincerely believe and live by those ideas. They say things "to get likes."
This is a completely fresh perspective to me and I find it very interesting, there's a good chance that you're right.
I believe there is some dark psychology behind all of this. I think we test each other not only on how virtuous we are, but in what ways we are morally deficient. Being addicted to social media is one way we give ourselves permission to indulge in types of negative behavior that existed long before computers existed. These kind of articles are a tacit justification of those behaviors.
"As I explain in my book..."
This is advertising.
It's enough to be valid, or thought provoking.
Because surely that's not the case with 95% of what's posted on HN, and that's not a bad thing.
No, sorry, beating a dead horse still isn’t justified.
You otoh offer nothing of substance
I agree in a mundane sense, repetition is not exciting, but the sorts of large scale messages such as this one, need to be repeated across many sources of information (has Sci Am ever run an article in this before? Not the same as if Huff Post does) before it's taken seriously enough, by enough people, for something to change.
Just one tiny example is the "courtesy like" when having a friendly interaction on twitter. It's like waiting to go back inside your house until your guest has fully driven out of your driveway and gone away.
Healthy technology is additive, not subtractive of our existing lives. And I think it's natural for us to have digital equivalents of analog reciprocity.
So, yes, some people don’t hear back from me as quickly as
they used to. I hear all the time from people who are
genuinely upset with me about that.
But "death of social reciprocity?"
According to my own research set to appear in the second clause of this sentence, sad people are apparently still thanking the Fortnite bus driver in record numbers.
People risked their lives for each other. I’m not sure that it’s the same case with people who like your selfie.
Say what you want about Wal-Mart, but Sam Walton wanted his stores to have a more 'neighborhood' feel, so he employed greeters to stand at the front of the store to say hello to shoppers as they entered. A small gesture, but eliminated in the name of 'cost savings'.
For most businesses these days, labor is one of your largest - if not your largest - direct cost. So it is a natural target when thinking how to increase profitability.
That's just talking about direct $$ cost... I think this article also touches on the fact that 'expensive' is also measured in attention. It's a lot easier to get a dopamine hit by checking your phone rather than a spontaneous interaction with another human being. You know what that little badge on the phone means, the outcome from a random conversation with another human ... is a little less certain.
The reality is, alas, not quite as wholesome:
The idea of having dedicated greeters at the front door of a store may have come from an employee of the company, Lois Richard. She was working in the early 1980s as an invoice clerk at the Walmart store in Crowley, Louisiana. The Walmart store in Crowley, which had opened in 1980, was experiencing shoplifting and had a significant "inventory shrinkage" after two years. The initial idea was to have an employee standing at the door in order to try to decrease shoplifting. After a shoplifting sting conducted by the local police showed that piles of merchandise could have been taken away, Lois Richard pitched the idea the next day to her manager and it was accepted.
Having someone who visibly sees each patron when they enter and is physically present at the exit likely reduces shoplifting more than enough to pay for the position. They're basically security guards.
Presumably the people I'm interacting with now won't be annoyed by my use of digital tools to do so.
I am not sure if this trend will be positive or negative long term but I think social media is just another (accelerated) step in that direction.
I feel so thoroughly connected with my friends. They're like a mesh that catches me when I'm down and bounces me back up. And it's so easy with tech.
People are hyper sensitive now, and at least here in the US, there is a sense that 'someone one is to blame, and that person needs to be punished'... and that sense is way stronger than the sense of 'is this person even guilty'.
Where I'm from, I give hitch hikers rides all the time.
Since I've lived in the US, I don't. If the hitch hiker was to have drugs on them, and we got stopped, I could easily be liable for this, and go to jail and lose my right to be in the United States. Those are some high stakes. Especially since I don't have a $250,000 lying around to pay for a criminal defense attorney.
And lower stakes happen everywhere. The other day I was hiking (with my expensive hiking gear) in some back-country trail and I watched as first the dad took a shot, then what appeared to be the mom. So I offered to take the picture of the whole family. The mom yanked her camera to the side when I offered (as if afraid I'd steal it) and tersely rejected my offer (a single, cold and distrustful "NO")
One day I sat down at a restaurant and there was a really nice new cell phone on the seat. In my home country, I would have taken it, and waited to receive a call from the owner to give it back. Not so in the US. I wouldn't want to be accused of stealing it. Instead, I called the staff to take it away. Maybe they stole it? I don't know, but I don't want the liability.
When you do away with presumption of innocence, there is a strong chilling effect.
I thought the article would be focused on these sorts of things, but it seemed to be more of an advice column. Not what I was expecting.
I hate to say it, but the big nasty "R" word might be the only way to curb the disease of distraction by limiting notifications and psychologically abusive features.
The extend of psychological abuse for attention seeking is so great now that most if not all of us are in some way affected, even if we deny it (myself included).
- Twitter - notifications, likes, comments, emails, notifications in tab titles
- FB - notifications, messenger, likes, comments, friend recommendations.
- Slack .. good luck making those little notification circles disappear if you are in a number of different channels
- Linked In - constant emails, people who have looked at your profile, messenger you can't close
It's also going to get worse. As automation grows, more and more people will find themselves occupied with bullshit jobs, the kinds that look to expand and capture a piece of the attention economy. There is a good chance you, the person reading this right now has a bullshit job. You may even know it and acknowledge it, but will ultimately justify it as necessary and a force for good (sorry, it's probably not). It's a tragedy, but a lot of talent, time and life is being wasted on increasingly larger number of bullshit activities that add absolutely nothing (except $$) and take away everything (time).
I should know all of this as I work in a bullshit industry, doing bullshit things, taking people's time & money. I am not happy about it but I see no real alternative in the foreseeable future. My job involves figuring out how people think, what will make them buy and then making them buy crap they don't need or in more quantities than they need it.
Personally, I have made significant effort to cut down on distractions but I still fail by coming to HN. I can't help that discussions here are engaging and make me think. Twitter is another platform I have tried quitting many times but find myself too curious to see what's happening and checking again. I've managed to cut Reddit down to 1 sub, but even then it seems really difficult to quit that last piece. I still check LinkedIN occasionally but don't expect much from it, nor do I care about what's being discussed. FB is totally out of my life, including messenger so I have made some progress there. Slack also totally gone. I completely uninstalled it and direct people to email. Speaking of email, I am almost always at inbox zero thanks to a ton of filters. Stuff still gets through from spammers and occasional subscriptions that want to push crap I don't care about, but I manage to zap those with the "mark as spam" button quickly.
I feel like I'm still half-blind and thus see no clear way out of the prison, just like you. I'm a really honest man and the fight for the real world requires an advanced pretentiousness skill which I lack.
One could argue that by getting your info from a few selected sources you are actually just absorbing their information from whatever few sources they have and are not seeing the full picture.
I don't have much to share with english-speaking folks, most amazing "sources" I got acquainted with speak russian. I really enjoyed George Carlin, he provides some helpfull insights for starters.
That's surprisingly plausible/feasible.