Talking To Strangers

My daughter went to University a few weeks ago.  She is very clever and works very hard.  She got great results and has gone to a very good University to do an interesting and useful course.

We did the classic car full of stuff trip.  Pots, pans, duvets, sound equipment and so on.  Not much different from when I went except for the absence of a vast hifi system and boxes of cassettes and vinyl, the inclusion of more processing power than probably existed on the planet at the time I went and I got less good grades!

We did the registration thing.  Interestingly all the other parents helicoptered around with their kids.  We went for a coffee.  That hovering behaviour seems odd to me.  I think it is part of this cretinous “student as customer” nonsense which I think counter productive and oddly parental in tone.  See also, the, “My special day”, wedding culture which also misses the point and makes weddings about things they are not.

Then, well, then we thought we should leave her to it, so we did.

I was bottling up all sorts of things, mainly because I knew this was the moment we really did set her free.  Not that she’s not been for quite a while, just that this was the where it went from something gradual to an event.

Obviously, I couldn’t say nothing, that’s just not me.

Basically all the things running round my head boiled down to one thing, “Talk to strangers”, so I said that, reversing the advice of much of the previous 18 years.

So far, so what…

It occurred to me that we should all do that. And that by “talk to”, I also meant “listen to”. And that we have stopped. And that it is the root cause of many of the problems we face.

And I shan’t bang on about Facebook and Twitter echo chambers, or our ghastly press, fake news, the death of empathy or that the fact that the BBC gets flamed by all sides for bias demonstrates how balanced they are, or that I know only two people who voted to Leave, one of whom is now horrified or that on my trips the USA I have yet to meet one person who voted Trump (and yes I know I have met some just not ones that admit it).

But I will suggest we get out and talk and listen to strangers.

But if you disagree, the chances are you won’t even see this.


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