“Consequential Strangers” sounds like a great title for a love story. Truth be told, a consequential stranger can become your life time partner, who then becomes your intimate other. We need to recognize that our world surrounds us with consequential strangers. Jeanie, who scans my long list of items, just before leaving Costco and we exchange a warm hello and goodbye, is a consequential stranger. Keiji, who cuts my hair every sixth week on Friday, for the past fifteen years, is a consequential stranger. Even my neighbor of twenty-three years is a consequential stranger.
Yes, I know these people, I know their children, but they are not my intimates, like my wife, my children, my siblings, or my mother. Neither Jeanie, nor Keiji are an intimate, but there is a connection, and although the power of these people really does not seem to matter, they really do.
“Consequential Strangers” is about the outer circle of relationships, beyond the sphere of our intimates. Understanding who our consequential strangers are is evidence that there is no reason to ever to feel alone.
The Internet has exploded the number of people in our lives on a daily basis and understanding the value of consequential strangers opens a new world of connections and resources for those willing to make an effort to communicate.
Consequential strangers can be more influential than the intimates in our lives. Melinda Blau, author of “Consequential Strangers” shared a story of how a consequential stranger accomplished in a single moment of conversation with her friend, what Melinda and her intimates had been suggesting for some time for their friend to do. Melinda and her friends had suggested that their friend investigate the use of a pump for her diabetes with no success, even though they all knew it would improve the quality of her life. It wasn’t until their friend, while sitting poolside, struck up a conversation with a consequential stranger, who also had a friend who had diabetes and had invested in a pump, which improved the quality of their life. That conversation, with a consequential stranger, lead to Melinda’s friend investing in the pump. Don’t underestimate the power of a consequential stranger. The convoy of consequential strangers in ones life is an invaluable source of resources in an individual’s life if properly nurtured.
Melinda brought up an important topic of Internet Literacy. Now, most of us equate literacy with books. However, here we are talking about the twenty-first century online literacy, which does not belong to books alone.
I’ve mentioned this before that the Internet is an unbiased – neutral platform – like the artist’s blank canvas, which accepts any color imaginable. The same holds true for the Internet – it accepts all information – good or bad. It has been Melinda’s observation that parents who educate their children regarding the dangers of the Internet do better or are safer on the Internet.
Once again, another guest alludes to the importance of communication. Without a doubt, communication with your child is an important key issue to the well-being and safety of children in the digital age. Don’t freak out! That is the advice for parents given by children. Don’t judge – listen! Follow this advice, and if you have made it possible for your child to come to you when he or she feels uncomfortable about something said, or done on the Internet, you will have done your child and yourself a favor.
In many ways the Internet is nothing more than the new big attraction in town where kids get to hang out and socialize. Melinda talks about how kids are learning 21st century skills and they breathe technology and the Internet. Kids are reading, it may not be books, but they are reading on the Internet. The reading aspect concerned me once when I thought my son wasn’t reading enough. When I expressed my concern he shared with me what he did read. He enjoyed reading on the Internet. Not only was it Internet based, but his depth of reading was what impressed me. His interest is soccer, and his depth of interest of what professional soccer coaches had to say to their multi-million dollar players regarding strategies and motivation of the players was more than I expected. Kids are communicating, although it is through electronic devices, nonetheless they are communicating.
However, it is with these new technologies that parents need to be reminded not to abdicate their parental rights in enforcing rules of etiquette when using the Internet.
david c ballard
Related articles by Zemanta
- Consequential Strangers: They’re Everywhere [Theories] (cityfile.com)
- Q&A: Author Melinda Blau on Consequential Strangers (time.com)
- Q&A: The Importance of Consequential Strangers (time.com)
- How Do Kids Under the Age of 12 Use the Web? (chris.pirillo.com)