The blog

About living one year in the sharing economy…

Day 20: Do talk to strangers

Fear lies behind many of our worst qualities, such as greed, hatred, ruthlessness, bigotry or xenophobia, claims the Swedish doctor and writer Stefan Einhorn in a new book. 

A friend recommended me to read this article (in Swedish) by Einhorn, and it made me realize one of the reasons why I didn't want to continue writing about politics. Because I see a lot of people in the political debate that knowingly or not use fear or spread fear in different ways. I find that very destructive and sad and I wanted to get away from that toxic atmosphere. But I also want to tell people about positive experiences I have to show them another way of looking at things. 

I admit that there are problems in the society that have to be dealt with. But fear is not a good start. Let me take an example. In December I was surfing in France. The waves were too big for me, but I didn't realize until it was too late. Suddenly I noticed that a current had pulled me out way too far. There where rocks close by and the waves were way too big. And I didn't know how to get back to the shore in a safe way. I was diving under the waves. Then trying to get some air above the surface, before diving again. It was cold. My wet suit was too thin. And I got scared. Which made me tense, and tired, and less able to think clearly and focus on a solution. In the end I shouted to someone I saw further out who helped me to get in. Thanks to some unknown guy, I got up safely. Fear didn't help me.

But fear is common. I see this in the comments I get from people about things I do: Isn't it dangerous? Did you really hitch hike!? Don't use headphones outdoors - it'll signal that you're an easy victim! Don't accept male Airbnb guests!

I guess that statistically I'll increase the risk of something happening to me a teeny-weeny bit by accepting male guests, since men, statistically, are more violent. But I don't want to spend my life walking around thinking like this. I don't want to live in fear.

Don't talk to strangers is what we teach our kids. And then we grow up in this mindset. Honestly, I think we should talk more to strangers. At least I want to be better at doing that.

In my experience most people are great. And they still surprise me by being even better than I would have imagined. And honestly, if I'd follow all the advice that people give me out of fear I'd miss many great experiences.

Like the acrobats that came here. Two guys. If I had followed my friend's advice I wouldn't have let them stay here. Which would have been a loss. I haven't laughed as much in a long time. They were really great guys.

I might be crazy who not only trust people in general, but also let people I don't know sleep in my home. And who is apparently willing to stand in front of a, almost, complete stranger and close my eyes, just because he tells me to. But if I hadn't this would never have happened...