The Talk to Strangers Project Begins…

What’s the opposite of a “people person”? A hermit? Misanthrope? Sociopath? I’m not a sociopath. I don’t torture cats or disfigure prostitutes. What I am is an average looking, 28-year-old guy, living in L.A., who just doesn’t like people.

Face it. Most people are boring. The average person you meet has a boring job, a boring family, and a boring imagination. If you asked them what’s the most interesting thing that ever happened to them, you’d get a boring story about winning eight grand on a scratch-off lottery ticket or meeting Shaquille O’Neal in the airport one time.

And it’s not just boring people I don’t want to associate with. I also despise stupid people. Like my last girlfriend Amanda who believes that “everything happens for a reason.” And needy, low-self-esteem, TMI’ers who tell you in the first ten seconds of meeting about their ADD, sex addiction, and irritable bowel syndrome (these types are inextricably drawn to reality TV).

But the list doesn’t end there. I also hate: people with shifty eyes, people who Tweet, early adopters, people who refer to professional sports teams as “us” or “we,” people who drive Priuses, people who misuse the reflexive pronoun “myself,” sweaty people, people who talk about golf, reality stars, cat people, people who wear sports jerseys with athletes’ names on them, people who play Farmville, audiophiles, people who don’t signal, people who memorize baseball statistics, car guys, people who started playing poker recently, people who wait until the last minute to merge lanes, people whose mouths are open at rest, people who post links on my Facebook wall, frequent flyers, people who get really mad when their team loses, people who write novels or screenplays at Starbucks, and outdoorsmen.

By now you are thinking, This guy is a dick. What makes him so great to dump on practically every type of person in existence? Fuck him and his holier than thou attitude. To that point I can only respond by saying, “You’re right.” I’m not so special. I’m not better than all these people. Well, maybe I’m better than a lot of them, but I’m sure there are a lot of things about me that people hate, too.

After all, I always correct people’s grammar. I can’t help it. I could see why people might find that annoying. I especially hate when someone makes a grammatical error in the very process of trying to sound more grammatical, like when someone says, “Please return the questionnaire to either Jimmy or I.” That really bugs the shit out of me.

Look, there’s a lot of other things wrong with me which I’m sure I’ll get to in time. My point is, I’m no great prize either. That’s why lately I feel like things have been getting worse for me. People grow up assuming that life is just going to keep on getting better and better. More fun, more friends, more sex, more freedom. But since college, I have a lot fewer friends. I haven’t had a girlfriend in nine months. And my job… well, I’m an associate at an i-bank, and I can’t imagine that this is my career. I mean, this is what I’m going to do for the rest of my life? Look at spreadsheets all day?

But even more than that, for the first time in my life, I feel disconnected. Isolated. Alone.

I want more friends. I was pretty popular in high school. I’ve had hot girlfriends before. I’m capable of forming close relationships and my friends would probably describe me as not-at-all psychotic. So why can’t I meet new people? Different kinds of people. Expose myself to some new things I never even thought about before, like, I don’t know, bowling or something. I want to have hobbies. I used to like all different sorts of things but now I just watch TV every night or play PS3.

In high school, I used to be surrounded by people all the time. Every class was filled with a different cross section of my school. But now, I live in my little apartment by myself, go to work in my air-tight car, sit in my cubicle, and basically not interact with any human beings.

So I’m sitting here, home alone on a Friday night feeling sorry for myself, when it occurred to me. Maybe I don’t really hate people. Maybe I just need to get to know them better. When you’re five and you meet someone on the playground, you just say, “Hi, I’m so-and-so. You want to be my friend?” Why can’t it be that simple as adults?

The only problem is it’s pretty tough in L.A. to meet people. When you’re out of school, there’s no natural way to make those connections. And I’m certainly not the type who gets girls’ phone numbers in bars or walks into a cocktail party and  introduces myself to strangers.

But maybe I could be. Maybe I could be a people person if I tried. And maybe if I became a people person, things would change for me. Maybe things would get better. Maybe I wouldn’t be so bored. And negative. And lonely.

So I decided. I’m going to go on a journey of self-exploration. I’m going to talk to strangers. Maybe not everyone, but a lot of them. People I run into in my daily life. I’m not going on a road trip here. I’m just talking about meeting the dry cleaner guy so we know each others’ names. I’m going to write about it to chronicle my ups and downs. I’m going to keep it anonymous for now, because I don’t know where this project is going to go and the last thing I need is to get fired because someone at work finds out something weird about me.

But what I can tell you is that for the first time in a long time, I’m feeling optimistic. Like this just might be the best idea I ever had.

So that’s my plan. I am going to start talking to strangers.

Wish me luck.

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32 thoughts on “The Talk to Strangers Project Begins…”

  1. I was born in LA and raised in San Diego. I left California at the age of 31 and have been on the East Coast for 8 years. Meeting people is tough all over, but in California is extremely tough because of the ‘gloss’ and building a network. Trust is lacking, therefore making it hard to get to know someone, friends or otherwise. Just know that once you get over someone’s ‘gloss’ there are interesting people everywhere, you just have to listen. In CA, the men and women with the most ‘gloss’ are often the least interesting, and they are everywhere…which is why partially why I left.

    Keep you eyes and ears open…..the bitter will wear off.

  2. Boring fucking blogs. Here’s a thousand words on what you should know about ME. Expect more every day. I’m gonna stop acting like a high school goth, although I still have the emotional maturity of one! This is such a FASCINATING idea I think I’ll head over to godaddy!

  3. That was my favorite blog mission statement of all time. I hate most of those same people, but then I *am* some of those same people. Can’t wait to see what happens next.

  4. I honestly do not know how I stumbled upon this blog, but I have read a little of it….
    especially your manifesto. Yes, you are a dick, and to me it seems you are rather proud of it. Sad, you are sad also, I would feel sorry for you but you would probably take that as a badge of honor. You say:
    “Look, there’s a lot of other things wrong with me which I’m sure I’ll get to in time. My point is, I’m no great prize either. That’s why lately I feel like things have been getting worse for me.”
    I have a feeling that things will always go bad for you until you grow up. Life is not about you, silly. I meet strangers each and everyday and I find them interesting and great to talk to. If you are looking for ‘dicks and jerks’ yes, you will always find them, for that is what you are looking for. If you are looking for great human beings created in the image of God, wow, what a coincidence, that is what you will find….maybe a little tainted, but charming nonetheless.
    I applaud you for stepping out of your comfort zone and attempting to meet people.
    Remember, whether you think you can, or think you cannot, you are right. And by the same token, if you think you are always finding dorks, dicks, jerks, or whether you think you are always finding great, neat, charming, funny folks, you are right.

  5. I recommend reading a book called, “The Game” by Neil Strauss. I realize that it is a book based on picking up women. The realitiy is that it taught me how to open, control and close a conversation with both men and women. It was a huge help after my divorce at a young age. Its tough getting out there and meeting new people.

  6. “Maybe I don’t really hate people. Maybe I just need to get to know them better.When you’re five”

    I dislike people who don’t put spaces after periods.

  7. Mike cobb, if you try just a little harder to be a condescending, sanctimonious prick, maybe one day you’ll be as good at it was the gentleman who created this blog! You are not him, but you sure seem to think you have his personality pegged. Get the fuck over yourself, douchebag.

      1. Well, people whose mouths are open at rest really struck a chord with me so I say we go for them. I thought I was the only one to have noticed that! Surely they’d eventually choke on a fly or something and stop doing it… hey that gives me an idea.. muahehe…

          1. If you have found that new person or someone and you instantly feel something like you want to love them what should you do! I mean telling someone the first week of talking to them that you love them is weird. I’m here for her and I look after her and I want to take care of her but I’m just lost and want to express how I feel about her constantly and when ever she leaves I get this lonely feeling right after

          2. I’m no expert, but I know you have to get to know her first. Maybe there is a thing called love at first sight, but unless she feels the same way, you have to be friends first and get to know each other. Then you’ll find out if it’s mutual.

  8. Incredible. I just went back and read this Manifesto after I had followed your blog to the very end. Just reading one of the last lines – “this might be the best idea I’ve ever had” – and knowing how the story turns out is so inspiring. Damn right it was the best idea you’ve ever had – you met your wife because of it!

    I read this Manifesto for the first time last year and was shocked because literally everything in it sounded like it was describing me, just change bank to law firm and PS3 to x-box and you pretty much nailed it. I’ve always considered myself social, but often just unwilling to put in effort to meet new people or even stay in touch with friends from high school and college–essentially thinking “If it’s worth it, they’ll meet me.” But this blog has showed me that’s so far from the truth – society needs forthright people, people that take initiative and make an effort to get to know people. I continue to re-read this post because it shows how much you have–and anyone that follows your lead can–change and flip their life around. It’s a constant reminder to me to make the effort and not to get lazy with life, and I thank you for that.

  9. I actually read this blog and its very inspiring. I too don’t have much friends and keep telling myself its because i travel much and the environment I will be in is not suitable. all possible excuses i can put my hands on. Oh.. and congrats on triumphant journey.

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