Talking to Strangers
Wow I loved Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell, it was super interesting. I've read Gladwell's books before and this is his best, in my opinion.
Gladwell opens the book with the Sandra Bland case, the black woman who got pulled over in Texas for not using her turn signal, the conversation got heated and Bland ended up arrested and in jail. She committed suicide in jail three days later.
Gladwell demands more answers and a closer look at what's really going on with this case and the many others where we've failed in conversations with strangers. Gladwell claims that we just don't know how to talk to and perceive strangers. And it's not just the average Joe - it's celebrated CIA officials, seasoned judges and officers.
Gladwell brings up many other high profile cases such as the Sandusky trial, Amanda Knox, the Brock Turner case and Neville Chamberlain's conversations with Hitler right before WWII, all in an attempt to figure out why we can't be successful in encounters with strangers.
It was all super interesting to me and well researched. What I didn't get from this book was an applicable takeaway - like how do we take this information and make positive change? How do we stop the Black Lives Matters movement from ever needing to happen? How do we help our judges and police force make better decisions? How do we stop rape and sexual misconduct from happening on college campuses? But I'm not sure that's why Gladwell wrote this book (although I think some people might think so).
Gladwell was to come to the conclusion that there have been many mistakes along the way - how good we think we are at figuring out if someone is "good" or "bad", the systems we have developed, and the data we've used for things like police training. Unfortunately because of this, everyone is losing. And don't expect there to be a solution for any of this at the end of the book, but Gladwell urges us to accept our limits (as people) to decipher strangers.
If nothing else, this book will make you think differently about how you perceive others, but also how you perceive yourself as you perceive others. Don't expect Gladwell to solve the world's problems, but I still think this is an important piece of work because it's showing some of our natural blind spots, and that's never a bad thing.
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