Saying Hello Is Now A Radical Act

At PJ Media, I talk about how older people, who learned how to interact with other human beings before cell phones and the Internet, can help the rest of us enjoy real conversations:

Occasionally one gets a glimpse, mainly from older people, of how things could and should be. One afternoon, about a month ago, I sat in Starbucks, writing a draft of something on a yellow legal pad. I stopped to think, tapped my pen on the paper and let my eyes wander. They drifted up to catch the gaze of an attractive, fiftyish woman. She smiled one of those broad, honest, charming smiles and said, “what are you writing?”

Of course I was pleased to talk to this pretty stranger. I was aware, however, of the very slight and very brief jolt that ran through me when the woman initiated conversation: it was the feeling you get when exposed to something wholly unexpected. Most people I see nowadays do not even make eye contact with others, much less ask them substantive questions. Normally I am the one to engage the general public in small talk—to offer the smile, the sudden greeting or compliment, the glib joke on the supermarket checkout line.

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