Day 134: The surprising need for strangeness

Don’t talk to strangers. This is a social norm which wants to tell us who we should and shouldn’t relate to. It tells us to stick to people like ourselves. Yet when we’re at our best, we reach out for people who aren’t like us. Maria Bezaitis’ phrase for that is, ‘ strangeness,’ and she feels we should get more.
According to Bezaitis, the social landscape is changing. New technologies open up new opportunities for people. In the context of digital technology, you’re already doing things with people you don’t know, so thinking of strangers as people to avoid is the wrong thing. Strangers and weak ties have been said to be more effective at transferring information to us than close friends. We’re already homogenized with those we know.
Take our possessions and make them available to people we don’t know. As people’s relationships to the things in their lives change, so do their relationships with other people.
Strangeness makes the point that we need to disrupt our zones of familiarity; for learning and discovery. In the context of digital relations, seeking strangeness might be a good basis for innovation.


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