Talking to Strangers
By: Malcolm Gladwell
Might as well start off nonfiction November with the one I read in October. I’m fascinated (and often confused) by communication period. But especially on social media and how that changes our ability to communicate with each other.
Talking to Strangers deals on a person to person basis not social media but I think it all really wraps in together.
I was most interested in a study he talks about early where participants play “fill in the blanks” and then they’re asked what those words say about them personally. Naturally (according to each person) little to nothing as we are all too complex to be judged only by a handful of off the cuff words.
But when asked to define other people by the words they chose- totally judge them. And judge them hard.
Yep double standards and hypocrisy is so easy in communication we honestly don’t even see it in ourselves. (And I think it’s pretty much the first thing that goes out the door communicating on social media.)
There are interesting chapters in here including information on the Sandra Bland case which when you listen to the recording is just… unbelievable. I mean I’m not even going to go into that but it made me so angry all over again. It’s what happens when you give a bully a gun and a position of power they shouldn’t have and that’s not even bringing into it all the other issues.
I did listen to this on audio which I would recommend. The book is punctuated throughout with Janelle Monae’s “Hell You Talmbout.” I would say the only thing that bothered me a bit about the audio is some of the actors reading the transcripts just went way too fast to be understood at some points.
There’s also another very interesting chapter concerning blackout drinking and rape on college campuses that I think everyone should read. My go to reflex is always no, no, no excuses. But upon listening to the whole chapter the information concerning blackout drinking is informative especially its rise and some polls on college campuses that showed an almost unwillingness to recognize that it could be a portion of the problem.
So overall it’s a fascinating book. I feel like I learned something and will try to keep these things in mind when communication with anyone- not just people I don’t know.
And if audiobooks are your thing I’d definitely give it a go that way. It’s a super quick listen.
7 thoughts on “Talking to Strangers”
In the process of reading it right now. I agree with your sentiments.
It’s such an interesting book. I really think everyone should read it. Hope you enjoy the rest of it!
I read this book and found it intersesting-he deals with really subtle points, but valid in most cases. In some examples it felt like he was apologizing or trying to explain away bad behaviour, but I understand that probably wasn’t his intention. The drinking on campus issue is a complex one, but totally agree that we would have way less problems if people didn’t get blackout drunk-that’s never helpful! LOL
Yeah I was a little annoyed during that chapter but Ince he got into the science and the tests I could see where he was going with it.
Im not a non-fiction person.. but psychology/how humans communicate is interesting to me — so I might try this out! I’d need to check if I can get it from my libby app some time.
Goodluck on your Non-fiction November goals! Xx
I remember reading the kindle preview and stumbling upon that study and it was what sealed the deal for me that I needed to read this.
I had no idea that it covered all these other topics, but I’m definitely bumping it on my TBR for this year.