A few days ago I embarked on a new quest: to have at least a human interaction a day. Here I explain how and why.
I practice Linguistic Empathy and I expect you to do the same. Please bear with me if my English is not perfect.
It’s nothing new that human beings, and consequently, human interactions, have always been a big passion of mine. However, getting older I discover new attitudes and interests within myself, which connect me to my species.
I have always been rather wordy, and I love to crack a joke with strangers (but also with people I do know, to be honest). One of my biggest satisfaction in these 30 years of life abroad has been being able to make people of other cultures laugh. And also joking in a different language.
I an an open person, and I have always liked to interact with people I meet on my way. The network of human beings I come across with in my daily interactions, those human interactions that happen when going from office to shop, from shop to schools, etc., have always been very important to me. And never before had I understood why with such clarity.
It is not only that I am a communicative person, and, like anybody else, I need human contacts. It is something more subtle, and strongly linked to the deep values that guide my life. It simply does not make sense to me to leave my house if I do not interact with the people I meet on the streets.
It does not make sense because life outside of its virtual sphere – which by now has become predominant for so many of us – is a unique occasion to create, feed and value all that for me makes life worth to be lived: communication with other human beings.
I think it is not necessary for me to point out that through communication we grow, learn, and become more complete. Communicating with others clarifies ideas, opens minds, makes us humble, makes us think and, maybe, increases our will to live.
Human interactions, however, or that positive current that favours an exchange between human beings, must not be taken for granted. These days even less. Whenever I travel on an underground train in Milan (but the same happens in so many other places in the world) I feel like I have entered a parallel dimension, where I am an alien. I always count the number of people glued to their phones, eyes and all perceptions focused on their screens, and this need of being constantly connected makes no sense to me. And I tell you this despite having built my career, and certainly my most meaningful projects, on the virtual world.
It does not make sense to me because by focusing on these little screens, we lose touch with reality little by little. Reality does not pass through phones, it lives in the people sitting next to you on the underground.
It is with these people I have decided to have human interactions every time I quit home. No need for long or convoluted conversations. I am happy with a couple of sentences, two words, giving our a piece of information or helping someone climb a stair. What is most important is to break the isolation in which it is sometime so comfortable to nest, and open the eyes on another human being.
Since I started this experiment (which I tell on my professional Facebook page) I have realized what follows:
– it is not always easy to find the occasion to interact with strangers, but chances multiply with a bit of creativity;
– people get more and more used to shut in their own world; they often react with mistrust and surprise, when they are stimulated;
– some people wait for nothing more than to exchange a few words with a stranger – and not only old people;
– it is amazing how many things in common we can find – feelings, emotions, situations, facts, ideas – if only we engage in getting in contact with others.
It will be interesting to continue this experiment in Geneva, a place I know little and with which I have little in common. I am determined to go ahead with this habit, though. I would like human interactions with strangers to become as spontaneous for me – and for everybody – as it is to pull out the phone for hundreds of people I see in the Milanese underground.