A Cure for Loneliness?

I thought about the work of neuropsychologist John Cacioppo, co-author, with William Patrick of Loneliness: The New Science of Human Connection as I watched this video put out by the Mental Health Foundation in Great Britain, which highlights the findings of a new study, The Lonely Society.

The antidote for loneliness is to connect with consequential strangers.  Having a “tribe,” John told me when I interviewed him for the book, is the flip side of social isolation.  All of us experience loneliness at times, but it is most dramatic–and we are most vulnerable–during major life transitions when a dependable “circle of support” is disrupted. In this film, for example, the woman lost her CS at work when she had a baby. Continue Reading »

The Best CS City in the World

Okay, I’ll admit it: I have no idea whether Amsterdam really is the best city for meeting new people because I personally have no way of comparing it to every other city in the world, just the ones I’ve visited or lived in.  Business Week declared it Numbe 13 in the world in 2006 and again in 2007,  and, according to an Amsterdam tourism site, it ranked 13 in 2008, too (they noted, not suprisingly, that it ranked even higher in the past–however, recent construction projects have caused unusual traffic problems, making it a bit less livable.   Short of paying several thousand dollars to obtain this year’s ranking, I can safely assume that the city’s still up there.   These “official” rankings naturally take into account education, health, climate, crime, and such, but I think sociability– how easy it is to connect with people — should be considered, too.  (Granted, if citizens are healthy, happy, well-educated and not worrying about getting mugged, they’re obviously going to be more willing to engage!)

I only spent three days in Amsterdam–another reason I’m not expert!  Still, there are many reasons I have for suggesting that it is a high on the CS index.  Note how appropriately the café (above, left) is named.  (And by “café” I don’t mean a cannibus coffee shop!).  The fact is, Amsterdam seems to have been designed for schmoozing.  Continue Reading »

Bi-Postal Blogging

I can’t believe I launched another blog. What could I have been thinking?  Only a few months ago, I was bemoaning the hype around social media, wondering how to get back to my writer self.   But I realized it wasn’t the blogging that got me crazy; it was the disappointment that I didn’t have much of an audience (which didn’t prevent me from feeling deeply grateful to the six of you who did tune in!).  I kept saying to friends, “Blogging is like sending an email into the Universe, but you have no way of knowing who’s read it.”

So here I am again, now with two blogs–Consequential Strangers and MotherU–each representing a totally different part of my life.   I’ll funnel some ideas into in one blog, some in the other, and with others, such this one, I’ll be “bipostal,” contributing to both sites.   I’ll express my thoughts and hope that they resonate somewhere in the Universe, share my expertise and hope that it helps.  But I’ve let go of the expectation.

I’m not the only bi-postal blogger out there, according to some recent stats on blogging.  Approximately half of us are working on at least our second blog, and 68% have been blogging for two years or more.  To paraphrase Oscar Wilde’s famous quote about second marriages, “Second blogs are the triumph of hope over experience.” Continue Reading »

What It Takes to Connect Face-to-Face (in the age of the Google brain…or in Paris!)

I’m back in Paris, on the prowl for a new set of consequential strangers–following my own advice about what it takes for a place to feel comfortable.

It’s not easy here (see this post about my last trip), and the challenge has made me think about what I have to do to connect in a city–this city.  New York is different for me, not only because I speak the language there, but also because  I know the unwritten social rules of the city–how to read the “body idiom” and do what Irving Goffman called the “face work.”   But one doesn’t have to be a sociologist to see that Parisians have a different social playbook than Americans–and I don’t have a copy!  Therefore, I keep reminding myself of the basics of face-to-face connection–skills  we don’t exercise in front of our computers. Continue Reading »