If you are sat on the bus and you looked around – have you ever wondered why everyone does not talk to each other. Walking down the street and you make eye contact with a stranger, that stare more often than not turns into a glare.
Now, Carina Adam, a photography student at Falmouth University, has set up a platform to break the stigma behind our fear of strangers, get us off our phones and talking to each other. The initiative called ‘One Hour Connect’ is a simple but effective way of getting people to chat. Carina meets different people over Instagram and Facebook and arranges to go for coffee with them in the hope that they carry on the idea and go out to meet other strangers.
I wanted to go and experience it for myself, so I organized a day for my first one hour connect at Stones Bakery, an artisan bread shop in Falmouth. I was slightly nervous because I did not know what to anticipate. The smell of fresh pastry filled the room but I managed to stop myself buying one.
Carina is deaf but insists that doesn’t stop her doing the one hour chats. She is an excellent lip reader and has an app you can type sentences into if there ever is any issues. Carina said: “I set it up mostly for my own benefits, so that I could talk with someone properly, one person at a time. However, I realised that this also benefits other individuals as well. It is also to connect individuals properly – no mobile phones, no social media, no television, no anything but a face-to-face conversation.
“No mobile phones, no social media, no television, no anything but a face-to-face conversation.”
“There could be lots of different answers as to why people don’t talk as much anymore. But in my own experience, I think it is because we are afraid,” she states. “I cannot speak for anyone, but I think that we are afraid of what people would think if they find out what we are, our past, and our personalities. We are afraid that if we start talking, then people might leave us, we would be betrayed in the end. We are afraid of how we would communicate with other people, especially with strangers. That might be why we hide behind our phones (or any other devices). Fear is our main barrier.”
We went on to speak about social media. Carina said she has ‘200 friends on Facebook but only speaks to two of them’. This got me thinking about social media and how we use it as an easy way to contact people instead of actually going to see each other. “I find that people only contact each other just because they want something,” Carina added. If we keep contacting people just for our own sake, then our connection would be lost. Why can we not contact other people just because we want to see them and have a relaxed conversation?”
The idea has started to pick up the pace and the One Hour Connect Instagram page now has 50 followers in just under two weeks.
An Ofcom report in August, revealed that the average person in the UK spends more than a day a week online. The study also found that 78% of the population have smartphones. People walk down the street glued to their screens whilst walking into each other; we’ve all been there.
Matt Davies, a student at Falmouth University, said: “The experience was interesting, I knew Carina a little before, but it was nice to get to know her a little better. I know a little British sign language so there was a little bit of a language barrier but once I got over that it was fine.
“I think that the main reason behind strangers not talking is social networks, we’ve all become so comfortable with typing into a box instead of talking face to face that we don’t feel the need to talk in person anymore, plus there is no need to meet up as you can ‘talk’ from anywhere now.”
“We’ve all become so comfortable with typing into a box instead of talking face to face that we don’t feel the need to talk in person anymore.”
This is a current issue at the moment and not just in the UK. A report published by the British Red Cross last week found that 28% of adults feel alone. Nearly half of people in Cornwall and Devon (48%) feel always, often or sometimes lonely.
Carina is hoping that the scheme will inspire individuals to actively talk to each other, Imogen is a student at Falmouth University who heard about the idea for the first time, she said: “At Freshers you meet a lot of people, then there are others who find it more difficult and work better one on one instead of in a group, maybe they would thrive more in that situation.
“Your environment can be a major factor. I live in The Sidings and if I was more of a nervous person and wasn’t very sociable, I would have struggled to live there because it’s very secluded and doesn’t feel part of the university.”
The experience really opened my eyes to how detached we are from each other sometimes. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Carina and the next time I am on the bus, I might strike up a conversation with someone.