Tell me what you mean when you say the word stranger.
- Someone you’ve only seen once.
- The entire world of people you’ve never met or encountered.
- All the people who are unknown to you but possibly knowable, the people who you’re aware of as individuals in some way, but have never met or encountered in person.
- People you have personal information about but have not met, like a friend of a friend, or a public person.
- A person who doesn’t share your context, whether that is ideological or geographical.
- A person you don’t have anything in common with.
- Someone who is not part of any group you define yourself as belonging to.
- Someone you can’t understand.
- Someone who is a threat.
- Someone you encounter frequently but don’t know anything about other than what you can observe.
- Someone whose name you don’t know.
We are surrounded by individuals, not categories. There are adventures to be had here, adventures you can set out for every day of your life. To really understand how you divide the world, to use your senses to choose whom to make familiar, and to stop and say hello to a stranger, these bold acts can transform your emotional experience of the public world. And you can transform the public world itself right along with you.
Cities are machines for interaction among strangers, and more than fifty percent of the global population now lives in cities.