The End…?

S. Dillinger writes:

Hey, I was wondering if you could share some of your stats info with us. Like just how many readers stay current, or do you find more people finish the blog and move on once they get up to speed.

I saw someone mention that you’d been name dropped on a radio station, I was curious as to how many others have shared your blog that are in a position to have a lot of listeners/followers check out your project.

Also, do you see an end to this thing in the near future now that you’ve acomplished some of your goals. I mean do you plan to stop blogging and just continue a normal life filled with conversations with strangers?

Side note: I tell tons of people about this thing, you’ve done a great thing here and have helped many, even if it’s something as simple as a conversation about the weather, it’s a good thing.

Thanks for the kind words and spreading the love.

It’s hard to say if people are sticking around or if they leave and are replaced by new people, but the numbers have been pretty steady over the last several months. The only “public” mentions of the blog that I know of were a couple of times where a celebrity tweeted about it. Someone invited me to do a radio interview a while back but I didn’t accept and I don’t know if they mentioned me anyway.

To answer the big question, I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately, and the answer is yes, I am going to end the blog in June. It’s been very time consuming with work and my new boss, and I know a lot of people are going to be upset when it ends, but ultimately, I think it’s served its purpose, especially for me. And besides, I think that ending it on my wedding day will be a nice poetic close to this saga.

From T.

I’ve gotten so many wonderful comments and emails, I wanted to share one (with his permission):

Hi “Talk to Strangers” author,

I’m writing to you right now because I want to thank you now that I can still do it (in case you delete your blog).

I had just started my fall semester in USC as an exchange student when I bumped into your blog – funnily enough by clicking on a link on The Arrogant Nation, a blog that I read for no more than a minute. After the first few posts, I immediately knew this was a great project. I was also very surprised that it was lead by an investment banker, a profession whose social relationships are usually governed by mercantile interest and reputation – an idea based on my experience of Business student and Finance Team member in a big corporation – and that rarely stirs self-critique.

This double aspect, added to the fact that I was totally new in this country, got me reading all of your posts so far. It quickly became a game that I adopted in my own everyday life.
I’ve always been a nice guy making friends easily, being nice and polite with everybody from the boss to the secretary and focusing more on true friendships than just drinking friends. But since I applied some of your habits like actually triggering conversations with random people without pre-selection, deeply listening to them and congratulating sincerely, things happened to me like that I had never experienced before:

– I met my Michelle!!!!

– I was offered free drinks and free food from merchants, crazy discounts on bus trips or pieces of art, without even asking for them, sometimes making me refuse them!

– I was offered the warmest looks, smiles and hugs from complete strangers.

– I was offered teachings on life… sometimes boring I admit!

– I was offered benedictions from beggars

– I made friends with a stranger 40 years older than me.

– I slept with the Occupy LA movement, my first citizen engagement act – after voting, right.

– I now love meeting strangers and starting conversations in the most unlikely situations. This one is just so good, because it forced me to recognize that I know nothing about so many things and that I have to get back into a child’s growth mindset. It makes life so much more interesting.

I hope it will still work back in my country. Seems that Americans are very open in the first place (“Hey how you doin’?”s systematically thrown to any stranger), making the project a little bit easier.

To conclude, I am very impressed that you can handle so many things in your life. Your work is very time consuming, but you still manage to write this blog and do all different things. I suppose that’s actually one of the reasons why you want to make the most of your free time, and enhance it through a better social life.

I also think that talking to one another could turn a mere competitive, communautarist and paranoid society into a more collaborative, inclusive, self-aware and curious one.

Thank you for having shared your learning to the public. What you did definitely did a LOT of good to many people. Probably to you too. Even your current situation is a good teaching: love needs trust and sincerity. Seems that sincerity is paradoxically harder to achieve with very close people than with strangers.