So this weekend I participated in the “Share 1 minute” social experiment. The aim of this is to bring thousands of people from around the globe together in their city to celebrate humanity. The event asks the question; have we lost human contact? How many times a day do we actually stop to talk to someone? To express this the event involves meeting each other to share a minutes eye contact with strangers.
I wasn’t really sure of what to expect from the event. I was walking around the city alone on Saturday and remembered that it was happening. I spent an hour or so walking in and out of stores deciding if i should check it out. Honestly, I was shy and felt that it would be too much for me. However, I went through with it and found the meeting place, a small park not far from the city centre. When I arrived, there were already a fair number of people standing around. We were given a brief introduction and then told to get set up.
How the experiment works is this: You find a patch of grass in the park and lay out a blanket, you sit there and wait for a stranger to come and join you. You then both make complete eye contact with each other for a minute. During the first couple of people I ‘stared’ at I felt really uncomfortable. I was scared to blink and I kept laughing nervously and thought the whole thing was embarrassing. However as time went on and person after person came and sat with me I became a whole lot calmer, the whole thing became normal – even therapeutic. After the minute was over some people were happy to leave and move on to the next person but many others stayed and chatted with me for a few more minutes. We would talk about what we were doing in Sweden, where we were from, or how we were finding the experience.
I ended up meeting a whole range of people (22 to be exact). People from all over the world, I chatted with someone from Iraq, Singapore, France, Argentina, Chile, Germany as well as Sweden. Young people and old, male and female, each with different experiences and circumstances and reasons for sitting in a park on a cold day to stare at strangers. Some eyes looked sad and started to fill with tears, causing me to do the same, as if this person knew my anxieties and fears and I felt for them too. Some people couldn’t stop smiling, which caused me to do the same, like we were sharing some inside joke. All without words.
I met a teacher, a mother, an engineering student, a russian language student, someone who moved across the world to Sweden for love, someone who tried to send me a telepathic message, someone who was scared they couldn’t truly connect with people. I met 22 strangers I will probably never see again, yet I felt like I was a part of something special with them today. I’m glad I took part because it’s easy to forget that we are all human, we’re not aliens. There is nothing stopping us from talking to each other, usually that’s why things go wrong – because we’re scared to communicate with one another. We can learn so much about different cultures or ways of life as well as things about yourself. I love Stockholm, this city has been good to me. I love my friends here, they are good to me. This week i’ve been feeling particularly lonely, and this experiment just meant a lot to me right now, it gave me a boost in a way I didn’t think it could.