It is actually possible to walk down a street, which isn’t very busy, without acknowledging anybody that you pass!
Think about that for a moment!
I live in a small village in the North West of the UK. There are about 3 or 4 housing estates, 3 pubs, 2 churches, 3 social clubs and a number of small shops. Population around about 5,000, surrounded by fields in every direction.
That’s why I like it. It’s not a sprawling metropolis. I don’t think I could cope with city life.
But despite all that, the surrounding fields and the small village setting, I’ve just walked to the local shop (about half a mile away) and passed about a dozen people, without receiving acknowledgement from a single one of them! We just walked straight past each other. Imagine that!
OK – maybe you’re thinking that isn’t so strange, and perhaps you’re right. But think about this: we have evolved as social creatures. We have evolved to work together in social units. We have dispersed across the world from small tribes in Africa until we talking monkeys now occupy almost every crook and cranny of the world. And yet we can pass each other in the street without so much as a nod of recognition.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not being all superior here. They didn’t acknowledge me and I didn’t acknowledge them. It’s a two way thing, I agree. And normally, I do make a point of saying hello to anybody I pass. But because I was slightly distracted I didn’t today. Even when I noticed, and started paying attention, I noticed people really weren’t even looking for acknowledgement. They were happy to just pass on by.
All these people, with their lives, their loves, their stresses, their joys. Each with their own history of battles won or lost, their memories and histories. All, just ignored and passed by.
As a species, it’s more natural for us to know all about the people in our social group, or tribe. We’d know their histories and who they were. We could never walk past them in the street without acknowledgement.
But today there are over 7 billion of us world wide! 7,000,000,000!!! That’s a lot of zeros.
7 billion histories. 7 billion faces to recognise. 7 billions loves, losses and joys. How can you even scrape the surface in attempting to understand all that?
Even in my small village of over 5,000, how can I possibly really know and understand more than a small percentage of the people I might bump into?
So for me, that’s People Problem #1; there’s too bloody many of us.
But next time I go out for a walk, I will be sure to say “hello”.