Process Post #1

Talking to Strangers

This week we were asked to talk to a stranger and write about our experience in doing so. The point of this activity I believe was to get us to think about the difference between our online selves and how we interact with strangers online and how we interact with strangers in real life. My experience with this went quite well. For starters, I am an extrovert. So I love talking to new and strange people. I’m a big believer in everyone’s got a story to tell. This week I was on my way home from visiting my family in Trinidad and Tobago. With the question of “When do you consider a person known?” on my mind.

A photo of a beach with blue water and people swimming in the distance.
This was on Pigeon Point Beach in Tobago.

The stranger that I spoke to was a gentleman who works at Pearson International airport for Air Canada. I found that sparking up a conversation with him was easy. When I think back to how I interacted with him, I would say that I was quite pleasant and quite open and honest. He asked me about my travels and where I called home. I even mentioned that my mom works at Vancouver Airport. He asked me why I don’t move to Toronto and work with Air Canada there. I explained that Vancouver is home and I don’t like the hustle and bustle of Toronto. I really went in depth about my reasons for not wanting to move back to Toronto, and I think, he genuinely listened. I think if I was online and someone had asked me those same questions I would have had time to sit and reflect and choose my words wisely before I replied. There is also the fact that I found I was quite funny while talking to this gentleman. When I engage with others online, I feel like (again) I have time to think out my reactions and I think that most times I edit myself to try to sound funnier or wittier because I don’t want to come across as boring. I do wonder though if this interaction with one “unknown” person can really compare to interactions with many “unknown” persons.

In reflection, I can definitely see where there are differences in how I engage with people in person (which happens to be my favourite way of engaging) and how I interact with others online. A big reason I took a step back from social media back in October 2021 was because I felt like I could see through the fake image I was portraying to others; everything is fine, all I do is have fun, dress up and go to nice places. I know the reality of my life and it is definitely not all sunshine and roses. But the main reason I took a social media break was because I couldn’t tell that others were putting up a “digital self”. To me, everyones “digital self” was their real self. And this way of thinking did a number on my self esteem. I think what I’ve learned from doing this exercise is that people can have many sides to them. People aren’t fake or fraudulent if their digital self is different to their in person self. I need to remind myself of this, because “Onions have layers. And Alexis, even Alexis has layers too.” Or whatever Shrek said.

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