How to chat with random people?
Most of us were taught as kids, not to talk to strangers. Kids these days are taught to yell and scream “stranger danger” when they do not feel comfortable in an encounter or a stranger does something inappropriate. This is probably good advice, on the whole, but as your kids get older, they need to be taught how and when it is appropriate to talk to strangers and how to do it.
Why talking to other people is important?
Life necessitates talking to strangers; we would not be able to function normally without it. Sadly, many man and woman grow up unable or unwilling to talk to strangers unless it is an absolute necessity. This is sad really. I’m am not into the whole “a stranger is just a friend you have not met yet” cliché but talking to random people has many benefits.
Some cultures will engage with each and every stranger the encounter, often stopping and engaging in a long conversation before continuing on their way. Most western cultures do the exact opposite and sometimes even a friendly salutation will result in people looking at you strangely.
Table of Contents
What is the reason that we communicate?
" Too often when we're meeting someone new, we try to fill the dead moments with chatter about ourselves. Far better for you to listen first, talk second."
Sure there is a lot of information to be learnt from books, online and even occasionally TV but talking to anyone outside of your family and immediate friends will broaden your thinking and open your mind to new ideas. It can help you grow as a person. The chances are that the majority of your friends and family have fairly similar outlooks on life, religion, politics and so on. They probably support the same sports teams as you, eat similar food and dress in much the same way. Yes, there will be the odd exception but the majority of them think and act very much like you and will therefore not challenge you in anyway.
Now simply walking up to a complete stranger in a mall and trying to strike up a conversation on the socio-economic conditions in Pakistan or Buddhist eschatology, will probably result in them calling security.
Where to start if you are afraid of talking to strangers?
The best way to start is online. Look around for one of the many available free chat rooms, give yourself a racy nickname and you are good to go. Within seconds there will be hundreds of users, complete random strangers, that you can engage with.
Before you jump right in, there are a few things to be aware of when you are chatting with random people. Firstly there are etiquette requirements that should be adhered to. Most chat rooms will have these posted somewhere so read them or face the wrath of the regulars when you slip up. Next, some groups are general while others cater for a specific type of person, be it age, religion, a special interest or any one of a number of factors. If you want to go and chat about the best way to crochet tea cosies, don’t go and join a chat room for the Aryan brotherhood.
How to use the "internet language" properly?
Apart from that, it is pretty simple, except for one last thing. They speak a different language. No, I am not talking about Mandarin or Greek, they speak in acronyms and abbreviations. Although they are all speaking what is essentially English, to the unfamiliar it may as well be Latin or Russian.
Don’t worry; you will pick it up fast enough.
Some of them will be familiar to you, even if you are getting on a bit. Things like AKA - Also known as, most of us are familiar with, or other like ETA, TLC, FYI and FAQ have been used in everyday language for some time.
Others you must have come across somewhere along the line like OMG, BFF, LOL or WTF. Some people, generally the older generation still get them wrong. My mother sent me a text not so long ago: ”Aunt Jean died, LOL.” She was most confused when I asked her why she was laughing. No, no, she said, it means Lots Of Love. Then there was the story of the son who got a friend request from his father on Facebook. He said “Dad, you are on Facebook. WTF” When his father asked him to explain, he quickly said it means Welcome to Facebook.
I have always enjoyed LOL, especially when chatting with random people used in the spoken word as often happens these days. Somehow it just does not work. Someone looks at you with a deadpan face and says LOL, it’s just not the same. Then there is the popular variation, ROFL or ROTFL and a million other variations, some even involving sombreros falling off and dropped tacos. Anyway, you get my point. It is a whole new lingo. Not only that but is constantly evolving and morphing with new acronyms being added almost daily.
So if you start a chat and someone says ASL, you have a few options, unless of course you know they are enquiring as to your age, sex and location. You could ask your child or grandkids, at which point they may become somewhat concerned, or you could turn to one of the many online slang or internet chat acronym dictionaries. Some you will be able to work out yourself but be careful, you don’t want to get it wrong. They will even abbreviate a two letter work so ok becomes k, because it takes like so long to type the letter o when just k will do. You can have entire conversations without using a sing full word, scary.
Just do it!
So get out there and start talking to anyone, you never know what you might learn or discover. Before long, you will no longer be a Noob and you will be chatting FTW. Embrace it and enjoy the experience, it really can be lots of fun.
HTH - Hope this helps.
GTG - Got to go
GL - Good luck