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Monday, November 7, 2011

Philosophy is Phun Blog # 54 – Strangers

Hey guys! If you haven’t had a chance to check them out yet, I have uploaded two new podcasts on the so go watch them! This post is dedicated to a recent thought I had about how everyone is in some way connected to one another even if they don’t realize it. We have probably all heard about the Six Degrees of Separation theory where everyone can be connected to anyone else in the world through a maximum of 6 people (i.e. you know someone who knows someone who knows someone etc). I saw this one documentary that put this theory to the test. The filmmakers dropped off a package at a random village in Africa and told the person that they have 6 degrees of separation (i.e. six people) to get it to another random person in New York City. Obviously the villager didn’t know the person but they did know someone who would come through the village dropping off supplies who was from America. The next time the villager saw the American, he gave the package to the guy who then proceed to bring it back to America and then somehow it eventually ended up to the person it was supposed to. Now with globalization increasing at a rapid rate thanks to technologies like social networks, it becomes even easier to expand you network to encompass people from all around the world.
Bringing up the social network concept, sites like Facebook have completely changed what we consider to be a “friend” and who is a stranger. I feel like Facebook has turned the term friends to essentially mean that if you make eye contact with someone you automatically become Facebook friends. I think this applies to everyone because I believe that if you have over 500 “friends” on Facebook one of them is bound to be a stranger to you. I guess since I have been talking about them for a while, it is pretty important to get a general definition of what a stranger is. According to Google, a stranger is defined as “a person who does not know, or is not known in, a particular place or community.” This lack of knowledge is essential what makes the difference between friendship and being strangers. It is a pretty basic idea but it defines all relationships in our lives. In order to have a relationship with someone it requires past experiences or memories of those experiences and some knowledge of that individual. It helps you form an identity with that individual allowing you to recognize them from a crowd and creates distinctions that set them apart from everyone else. If you’ve been hanging out with a friend for a while you will be able to tell things like how they talk, how they walk, what type of humor they have, and other factors that make friendship so special.
Another important topic is the scenarios that we get put into with other people that allow us to potentially make acquaintances with those people who would otherwise remain strangers forever. Whether it is a class in school, a brand new job, or a random occurrence these events lay the foundation for developing new relationships that would never exist without them. This goes back to my very first philosophy podcast where I talk about the chance vs. fate debate. Is it strictly by chance that you will one day be in the right place at the right time to start a relationship with a person? Is it really like the movies where you save the person of your dreams from almost getting hit by a car and then you are soon married after that? If that’s the case do you have to thank that driver for almost running over your future spouse or is it just dumb luck that you were close enough to rescue them. Another perspective you could have on this situation was that you and your future spouse were meant for each other since the beginning of time and it is all part of some master plan of life that you were going to save them. Is it possible to control who is a stranger in your life or is it just meant to be? There are also all those what if questions like you could say to yourself “what if I decided to take a different road that day then I may have never met my wife.” I don’t think we will ever know the answer to that but I don’t think you have to wait for someone to almost get hit with a car to start talking to them. I believe it is ultimately up to you who is a stranger in your life regardless of whether it was meant to be or not.

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