Talking to strangers is good for you, according to experts.
“Don’t talk to strangers.” This adage is one of the first we learn in life. And while it might benefit us as kids, it’s certainly hurting us as adults.
According to Kio Stark, author of When Strangers Meet, talking to strangers is one of the best things you can do for your mental health—decreasing boredom, disrupting your routine, and helping you to feel more grounded, “real,” as a person.
We created Hapi to harness the power of open interactions between strangers. So, of course we believe in the benefits.
With coronavirus isolating many of us, finding connection through anonymous listeners has become even important.
See what the experts are saying about the benefits of speaking with strangers, then download Hapi to try it for yourself.
Am I Debbie Downer?
Life is weird right now. (To put it lightly.) We’re dealing with the emotional weight of a once-in-a-century event that puts our sense of security at risk.
Those of us who aren’t alone with our thoughts are surrounded by family and friends who are making their way through the same circumstances. We’re venting. Over time, these conversations can weigh on both parties, driving a wedge where no one needs one.
This is one reason why talking to strangers can be so beneficial. They’re there, and then there gone. As expert Kio Stark writes, “A stranger can listen to your feelings without having to live with them,” Stark writes. That’s good news for your bonds.
Can you hear me?
You might think a stranger would struggle to understand you. After all, they don’t know your personality or the larger circumstances of your life.
Studies show the opposite is true.
Says Boaz Keysar, a professor in psychology at the University of Chicago, “People commonly believe that they communicate better with close friends than with strangers. That closeness can lead people to overestimate how well they communicate.” This phenomenon is called closeness bias.
Because strangers do not suffer from closeness bias, they’re actually better positioned to hear the content of what you have to say.
You don’t mentally finish the sentences of strangers or assume, based on past experiences, that you already know what they believe—so, you listen. And more is heard.
No stranger to heartache.
Coronavirus has impacted the mental health of our world. Nearly half of Americans report the coronavirus is having an impact on their mental health. People who may have never experienced anxiety or depression are reporting symptoms of both. Apart from mental illness, the basic feeling of stress can take a toll over time.
Speaking to a stranger about your feelings is good for your mood. As social psychologist Gillian Sandstrom states, “If you’re in a bad mood, the last thing you want to do is talk to someone, but probably it’s going to be super-effective at pulling you out of that bad mood.”
Talking to a peer is not a cure-all for mental health issues. But “small doses of small talk with strangers each day could help [with] long-term feelings of loneliness.”
This is exactly why we created Hapi. Hapi lets you share what’s on your mind in a judgement-free space. Your Listener is available, and then they’re gone (though you do have the option to talk to them again if you’d like). They’re available 24/7 and, best of all, anonymous. You have the full benefit of speaking with a stranger without any risk.