Civility

A blog about exploring civility in today's society.

Tag: strangers

Strangers, First Impressions & Our Own Imperfections

BuzzFeed brought in six people to discuss their personal appearances. They had each person stand alone in front of a mirror and describe themselves.

The individuals involved said things like:

“I’m kind of self conscious of my round race.”

“I think I have donkey legs.”

“I’ve always been self conscious of my dimples.”

“When I look in the mirror I think do I need to lose weight?”

The participants didn’t know there were actually strangers sitting on the other side of the mirror. Those people were giving their first impressions of those standing in front of the mirror. These were their first impressions:

“He has really nice cheek bones.”

“That’s a great body type. I don’t know if she realizes how lucky she is.”

“He seems like a good guy.”

“I really like her smile. She has really cute dimples.”

“I think she’s in shape. If she’s mean to herself than that’s just one of those weird things where everyone is harsher on themselves.”

I think the concept of this video is relevant to being civil because everyone has been in this vulnerable situation. Everyone knows the sayings, “Treat others how you want to be treated” and “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” I think we are truly better off living by these rules. I think that people are too quick to judge one another especially solely based on their personal appearance. I get it, I do. Everyone does it. You see another human and you quickly notice something about them. I think the important thing to realize is that you know absolutely nothing about that human. The important thing to realize is what happens after you make that snap judgement about the way they look. Do not let something about their personal appearance turn you off to talking to them, smiling, or even just acknowledge that they exist. Everyone wants to be acknowledged. It’s clear from this video and obviously from personal appearance that everyone is harder on themselves. They don’t need your input on their flaws as well. It’s a nice change to get a smile from a stranger rather than a dirty look and a silent harsh judgement.

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20 Rules For Day To Day Civility

1. Don’t liter, ever (feel free to pick up trash though!).

2. Say “Please” and “Thank you” to whoever you’re talking to and wherever you go. The little things go a long way.

3. Hold the door open for people (behind you or in front of you, both will be pretty excited about it).

4. Don’t listen to music on your headphones obnoxiously loud when you’re on a crowded bus or any other setting where there are people in close quarters, not cool.

5. Be kind to strangers.

6. When you see someone drop something: pick it up, and run to give it to them (especially if it’s money, they’ll love you).

7. Give kindness to those who least deserve it (I think the saying goes, “kill ’em with kindness” but don’t take that literally, it’s just a saying (if you’ve ever worked in retail– you know the drill)).

8. Don’t be “that guy” or “that girl” many of us have been in situations where there’s one person in the room/restaurant/bar/whatever who is a complete ass to the waiter/waitress/bartender/cashier for no reason. Don’t be them. No one likes them.

9. Ask questions you genuinely want to know the answer. Small talk can be interesting (you don’t only have to talk about the weather!) you can learn a lot too.

10. Buy a homeless person(s) a meal(s) (c’mon, you can probably afford it).

“11. Realize that selflessness is one of the most predominantly wonderful qualities a person can have.”

12. Put money in someone’s parking meter (wait, that might be illegal?) …

13. Don’t talk on the phone while the cashier is ringing you up (they are a human and they deserve respect).

14. Start a conversation with someone you wouldn’t normally start one with.

15. Write little notes with your favorite inspiring quotes and leave them in a random book in the library.

16. Be curious about the people around you: ask them about their story or where they’re going (just don’t do it in a creepy stalker way).

17. Don’t talk on the phone in quiet, public settings (especially, the movie theater).

18. Smile at people when you walk by them don’t pretend to be on your phone or just not make eye contact, acknowledge them.

19. Don’t damage or destroy public property.

20. But, most importantly: if you’re ever in this situation, react without hesitation.

Thanks for reading & good luck!

Comment to let us know how it goes.

This was my list but there’s tons of other like it on fantastic websites like ThoughtCatalog and Buzzfeed.

Richard Renaldi: Touching Strangers

I had six tabs open while I aimlessly roamed the internet. Everyone does this, right? You start out on CNN’s homepage and two hours later you’ve watched 5 cat videos on youtube, 6 Vines, and read 10 of wikipedia’s random articles.

Anyway.

One click lead to another click, and another; and I happened upon Elitedaily and BAM! All of my attention went to a video titled,

“Photographer Puts Two Strangers Together For Intimate Photographs, And The Results Are Surprising.”

Screen Shot 2014-03-06 at 10.44.40 AM

(Photocredit: Richard Renaldi)

Richard Renaldi started this project in 2011. He took photos of Strangers Touching all across the country. The photographs are stunning me but what I found the most fascinating was the reactions of the strangers. One of the participants said, “I felt like I cared for her. I feel like it brought down a lot of barriers.” It was beautiful to watch these strangers walk away with a sense of closeness with another person they had never met.

“It was a good feeling.”
“It was nice to feel that comfort.”

After watching this video I had such a desire to be a part of something like this: to interact with complete strangers for a purpose, to learn from them, to better myself, to feel a connection.

And then I realized there was nothing stopping me from doing a project like this. I have a voice, I have a camera, I could do this. Now, it might not turn out quite as good as a professional photographer. But, what’s stopping me from trying.

One of the strangers who posed said,“We are probably missing so much about the people all around us.”

That is the idea I want to leave you with. You as an individual are part of something so immense. You have no idea what those around you have gone through, what they’re struggling with, what makes them happy. Why not ask their story? Why not learn something about them? Why not share with them and make a connection with a perfect stranger. Maybe that moment will touch their heart more than you’ll know.