Being Alone Together

Why are humans so reluctant to communicate in public?

Yes, we're all social creatures with friends and family that we interact with on a daily basis, but what happens when you're surrounded by strangers?   Every day, we find ourselves in public settings with countless people around us.  Whether it's shopping in a mall, being on a crowded subway, walking down a busy street, or even in an elevator fillled with people.   How social are we then?

Once in a long while, we may strike up a conversation with someone while waiting to board a plane or in a doctor's office, though this tends to be rare. More often than not, we consider any attempt to talk to a stranger as being awkward, and even unwelcome depending on how uncomfortable this makes us feel (especially if you're a woman being approached by a strange man).  For the most part, the strangers around us go on being strangers.

At least in terms of face-to-face interaction. Communicating with strangers online is a critical part of social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.  Casual conversations that might seem unthinkable in a crowded room seem much easier when there is no physical contact involved.  I have numerous Facebook and Twitter acquaintances that I interact with on a regular basis that I've never met in person and I am hardly unique.

But why are ordinarily social humans so unsocial in situations involving face-to-face interaction?    To read more, check out my new Psychology Today blog post.  

           

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