Logically, I can deduce the best solution to this problem:
We know it to be the case that there is a problem, namely, the problem of socializing with complete strangers. Now, this problem arises only because it is deemed 'awkward' to socialize randomly with people, so my solution takes as its premise the fact that the concept of 'socializing' requires the concept of 'social', which is in turn based on the idea of being within a kind of *context,* namely, a social context. So you see, my reasoning is as follows: to be social is to stand in a social relationship with another person, and to stand in a social relationship with another person requires context. It is not enough that an individual is in a spatial relationship with another individual, such as randomly being at a coffee shop with other people who are randomly there. Sure, there are chance encounters, so I am not completely ruling out the possibility of meeting and socializing with people during random times or at random places. However, my thesis is this: socializing occurs best, easiest and most natural within contextualized situations that either justify or provide initiation of human interaction. Thus, speaking generally and abstractly, it is when humans are contextualized within a sociable event, experience, sequence, or purpose-based location that they are most prone to socialize and make connections.
These are different kinds of contexts, each explained as follows:
Events, or, Places and Times
If an individual is at the same specific event, place, or time as another individual, the one individual is able to talk to the other without the same awkwardness as if the individual just randomly started talking to another individual at a random occurrence. That is to say, there must be something that joins the individual with the other individual at that time or place or event. Examples would include: people working in the same workplace; people attending the same concert or public event or art gallery; people attending the same class; people attending the same location often, such as a coffee shop or gym or pool; one person often going to a place where another person works. These are all example cases in which people can strike up conversation and socialize without feeling like strangers and thus, not feeling awkward. The person who initiates conversation would not feel awkward about initiating the conversation, and the person being spoken to will not feel awkward that someone completely unknown to them---a stranger---is talking to them. It is in fact the case that the majority of relationships initiate between complete strangers; think about it: our parents were all at some point strangers and then became lovers and parents. They must have met somewhere, sometime or at some specific event which contextualized their socializing and gradually led to a relationship. By socializing within the context of a non-random common event, place, or time, especially if these are events or places or times when socializing is the PURPOSE of the event, place or time, the individuals will feel more comfortable about speaking and being spoken to. They can also cognitively think about their commonality at that specific point in space, time, or at the event, and so this commonality would serve as something to talk about and something to associate the person with, e.g. when a person says "hey remember me? we met at the art gallery opening".
Sameness of Experience, Choice or Subject:
Sameness of experience, choice or subject is related to the previous section on sameness of event, place or time, but this kind of context is actually a better condition for socializing for it allows one individual to connect to the other by reference to their sameness of aesthetic, social or intellectual preferences. That is to say, when people are situated a manner that they share the same experience, they are immediately connected by being observers of that same experience and so can easily begin socializing about that commonality. The commonality of the experience links the two people together and provides the context for socialization, be it by one person commenting to the other about the experience or by each sharing the same response to the experience and connecting henceforth. Secondly, with sameness of choice, this context allows for individuals to immediately know something about the other, namely, that they both like the same thing or both chose to do the same thing. And sameness of subject-matter also contextualizes socializing in that individuals are brought together because they each care about a shared concern or subject. Examples of shared choices and experience would be two or more people attending an event in which they interact because of the event or because of something perceived at the event. As such, this kind of context is similar with and perhaps even depends on the first kind of context. However, there are differences when we think about how socializing is facilitated when people attend events that have a sameness of choice or sameness of subject-matter embedded in the event, such as attending a club meeting or social gathering, like a friend's birthday party; such contexts best serve the initiation of socializing because they are inherently social, and thus, the act of socializing with complete strangers is justified and cognitively accepted. Again, it is the context which serves to provide the commonalities that would link otherwise complete and random strangers if they were in a completely random situation, such as just walking down the street.
Another context is continuity of sequence. This context is more abstract since it deals with repetitions of events (which are just space-time coordinates) for the same individuals. A good example to illustrate the sequence context would be the following: consider the case of any person, call this person B, such that the person is a regular customer at a local coffee shop, where another person, call this person A, works; by the repetition of B's visits to the coffee shop where A works, familiarity between the two gradually develops until B and A begin to recognize one another, share more eye contact and become less strangers and thus more likely to enjoy a conversation and perhaps further relation. Here, sequence is merely just the familiar repetition of meetings to the point where a person gradually develops an indirect recognition of another person, hence facilitating socializing between the two.
When individuals attend a location with a specific social purpose, individuals are not only going to be contextualized within this place, but will be contextualized by the entire purpose. An immediately recognizable example is the fact that people go to bars and dance clubs to meet other people and to enjoy the same things, such as alcohol and a same genre of music; this example shows how when people attend an event with the same purpose, that is, to do the same thing, they are more drawn together and thus are highly likely to socialize. Consider a counterexample, such as the grocery supermarket or shopping mall, which are locations without a social purpose: the purpose of going to the grocery supermarket is to buy food, and so, individuals are less likely to socialize because there is no social purpose involved, only a consumptive one; and similarly, people are less likely to socialize at shopping malls, because there the sameness of purpose is to buy products, but not to socialize. Each of these cases are about the individual and not about other individuals, so socializing is less probable to occur, and so, in the minds of individuals, they are less likely to be open to socialize in these awkward environs. A more ambiguous case is the gym, since at the gym there is an individual-centric purpose---that is, exercise---so the purpose is not to socialize; however, the gym does provide a context for people who care about the same thing, namely, fitness; also, people attending the same workout course, such as yoga, can also meet and socialize without feeling awkward, because they can use the sameness of event (attending the same class) and the sequence of the events (fixed exposure to same person over a schedule) as the context of their meeting and socializing. However, the best purse-driven opportunity to socialize is logically those places or events in which people attend with the shared purpose to socialize.
I must add as a caveat that context does not GUARANTEE or DETERMINE socializing; rather, my argument is that the contextualization of individuals probabilistically facilitates socializing between otherwise alienated individuals; if my hypothesis is true, then it answers the question of how individuals socialize: individuals socialize more readily if not best, when they are within the same, shared context and so are able to use this context as a way to: initiate conversation; use the context as content within the conversation; and use the context to increase familiarity; and lastly, to use the context as a reference point of meeting and commonality (such as, for example, when people say "hi, yes, its me, we met at the Cezanne show last week") when carrying on the relationship. My hypothesis, if tested, will yield data which will show a quantifiable increase in people met and relationships established.
Some facts to consider:
"AMA surveyed its executive members and corporate customers about their office policies and personal attitudes about workplace dating. Of the 391 managers and executives who responded, 30 percent admitted to having dated someone from work. Of those 116 people, 44 percent said their dating led to marriage; another 23 percent said their dating led to a long-term relationship that either continues or has since ended; and 33 percent reported that office dating led to short-t
Answered By: ben - 2/11/2009