“Why should you care about what strangers are doing?” many ask. It’s not an uncommon question for me to encounter, particularly after identifying as a Twitter admirer. I typically offer an explanation that alleviates any suspicion that I follow people for interest in their daily eating routines or worse, but what I really want to ask is – what is a stranger?
In the past month, I’ve made connections from behind my screen, through Tweetdeck and to 7 cities around the world. I offered to support Noam Kostucki (London, England), the founder of Seeducation, by sharing a social enterprise survey that he’s conducting as research for a TEDx talk this Spring. Christian Vanizette (Paris, France), co-founder of MakeSense would like to engage SOCAP/Europe to address the needs of a global network of young social entrepreneurs that he’s built connections to. Abeer Desai (New York City, NY) attends NYU Stern and chimed in on a conversation relevant to a social entrepreneur infrastructure web app that he’ll be building this year. Aunnie Patton (Bangalore, India) works for Unitus Capital and tweeted a resource that I shared with friends & family. I provided Josh Tetrick (Los Angeles, CA) with constructive criticism on 33 Needs, a platform he’s built for people-powered solutions investing, simply because he asked. Cameron Burgess (Brisbane, Australia) is gathering a list of competitions and opportunities for social entrepreneurs that will very likely include some of SOCAP’s partners. Melina Chan (Battambang, Cambodia) shared insights on the importance of language fluency from her experience at TEDxPhnomPenh.
All of these connections, convergences, overlap and collaborations: this is why I care about listening to “strangers”, a word that doesn’t feel like the right fit when it’s likely you have more in common with these individuals then some Facebook “friends”. But, regardless of semantics, it’s the meaning that matters. And if it’s out there, what harm could it do to listen?