I see a connection between random rude behavior in public places, and internet trolls – people who say nasty things somewhat unanimously in Facebook or blogs or as responses to news articles. I believe that many people feel the world on the other side of their front door, or on the other side of their windshield or computer screen is less than real. It’s no more real to them than the characters in their video game.
As I have been out of work for a few months, it has become my duty to walk our second-grader to and from his bus stop. In the mornings, after he gets on the bus, I go for a four-mile walk through our residential streets. And today it occurred to me that I think of that whole area as my neighborhood. All of those people are my neighbors, even the ones two miles away. Some of them recognize me and wave, even though I don’t live next door to them, or even on the same street.
What if all of those rude, trollish people just don’t think of anyone as their neighbors?
They just need to get out and go for a walk every day.
It seems to me that most people feel they have no power or influence over what happens in their communities, their schools, their places of work, even their lives. But how can they influence something they never invest in?
No one is going to read a blog entry and suddenly change their life or change the world. No one is going to read this and suddenly start taking walks. But if you do, say hello to your neighbors. Maybe they’ll start walking, too.