In a world where distrust and fear often reign supreme, it can be hard to reach out and make connections with those we don’t know. But what if talking to strangers could actually make us happier and wiser?

For many people in America during the 1980s, “Stranger Danger” was a pervasive message. This idea, fueled by media sensationalism and declining social trust, taught that interacting with unknown people was inherently dangerous. But the truth is, the vast majority of crimes committed against children and adults are committed by people known to the victim, not by strangers. Despite the lack of evidence supporting the idea of “Stranger Danger”, this message may have influenced our views on unfamiliar people well into adulthood. Political scientist Dietlind Stolle argues that a generation raised on this message may have developed a damaged ability to trust others. Trust, after all, is crucial for society to function. So, what opportunities might we be missing by avoiding interaction with strangers? While caution is always advised, it’s important to consider the potential benefits of safely engaging with the people we meet in our daily lives.

By breaking down the barriers between us and the unknown, we may just find the wisdom and happiness that have been eluding us all along. Additionally, interacting with strangers can broaden our perspectives and help us learn new things. Meeting people from different backgrounds and walks of life can challenge our assumptions and help us better understand the world around us. Engaging in conversation with someone we don’t know can also bring a sense of excitement and novelty to our daily routines, providing a break from the familiar and the routine.