The fact that strangers play a critical role in our lives seems antithetical and counter-intuitive to our rather narcissistic way of thinking. But the truth is that in a world of over 7 billion individuals, our immediate family, friends, communities and acquaintances, are merely but a statistical dot. True to his rather unorthodox choice of subject areas to explore, Gladwell has perhaps written his most critical work. The more I think about it, almost all of of my encounters with “strangers” are subtly influenced by a million factors, including subtitles which are rather ingrained due to the rather unique socio-cultural context of my (or anyone’s) unique upbringing. That’s where the problem arises. This unique context presents a major barrier in effective communication, and leaves much to be desired in terms of efficiency.
Personally, I feel Gladwell could have spent some more time exploring the theory behind his assertions. He did follow his usual style of empirical assertion followed by building on the extrapolated evidence with research. But it somehow felt as if there was a lot more empiricism and less of…solution oriented theory. I can hardly complain, though as the book has never been marketed as fixer of the problem, but it would have been nice nevertheless to be nudged towards a potential thought, rather than being left at a station with your never-ending train of thought.
PS: Something I loved discovering in this book was the concept of “default truth”. I won’t take away the meaning of the book by attempting to explain it, but it is something which scientifically explains why people tend to believe in people…to an extent.
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