Why You Should Talk to Strangers

May 16 2017

Growing up my parents taught me not to chat up creepers, as parents do. Fast forward 20 years, l and I had just moved to New York. I was working as a video camera operator, shooting architectural photos as a hobby and I didn't have any portraits in my photo catalog. I was hesitant to approach total strangers and knowing next to nothing about portrait photography didn’t help! Thankfully I discovered a Flickr project called 100 Strangers: the challenge is to approach 100 strangers, get their consent, and do a write up about the subject. It's basically a Humans of New York Group project.

For stranger #1 I stood underneath an awning in Lincoln Center anxiously awaiting a character. The first woman I approached said she didn't speak English, (tip of the hat for that alibi) but the second person I approached didn't hesitate. Turns out he was an opera singer. The process was a pure adrenaline rush. Afterwards I realized that the adrenaline stemmed from approaching a total stranger on the street knowing full well they could shut me down. Over time the endorphins don't flow like they did in the beginning but there is almost always a little bit of anxiety when you're approaching a stranger, particularly the longer you wait. <- That's right fellas. More takeaways from my experience with the 100 Strangers project are listed below.

-Never approach a stranger from behind.

-Dealing with Rejection:. When someone turns you down there are hundreds more behind that person.

-You know the phrase "Everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about?" Well sometimes you can peek inside the personal battles people are fighting and that gives you a little more patience for the guy who cut in front of you at Cinnabon.

-For the most part, people who look interesting are usually interesting.

This project has literally changed how I look at strangers and how I interact with strangers on a daily basis. I truly think the world would be a better place if more people from opposing backgrounds interacted with each other. Please help us all out by having a real interaction with a stranger today. All you have to do is open a door, throw out a one liner, or ask to take their photo.

Thank you for your time,

Michael Tapp
New York, NY

Reading is now my number one hobby. I'm wild! Please send over your favorite book recommendations too [email protected]. I'll list some of my favorites below. I’m also active on the Instagram. My handle on Instagram is MichaelTapp .

Deep Work by Cal Newport
Deep Work taught me how to manage social media and stay productive in the digital age.

State of Wonder by Ann Patchett
A scientist goes into the Amazon and discovers a tribe where the woman are capable of bearing children into their 70s.

Your Money or Your Life by Vicki Robin, Joe Dominguez, and Monique Tilford
This book taught me that early retirement isn't just for rich kids.

Moonwalking with Einstein by Joshua Foer
It's the story of how a journalist became a US Got it Memory champion. This book motivated me to get into mnemonics and I eventually could memorize a shuffled deck of cards in five minutes.

A Visit from the Goon Squad Jennifer Egan
It's the pulp fiction of modern novels.

Michael Tapp
New York, NY
[email protected]

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