Our relationship with strangers, by Lorie Sheffer, guest blogger

talking to strangers

“He would never do something like that!”

“That’s not the person I know!”

“I will always love him, no matter what! I don’t believe the FBI report!”

Those were statements I heard that were made about a public figure involved in a current, ongoing investigation. While I certainly can respect and understand loyalty, I don’t understand the concept of thinking that we know someone we have never even met. I suppose we have all done it at some time or another. We have become attached to a public figure, be it in the entertainment industry, sports or politics. When that person, the person we claim to “know” does something to fall from grace, we are stunned. We can’t believe it! And yet if we are honest, we have to admit that we never knew the real person. We may have known the public persona, but we didn’t know the actual person. We never met them face-to-face, we never had a conversation with them, never sat down to dinner with them. But we thought we knew them. And so we will defend them against all credible evidence that shows them as someone other than our ideal.

When we teach our kids what a stranger is, what do we tell them? Most dictionaries define the word as “someone with whom one has had no personal acquaintance.”

Do we somehow look to a public figure as an ideal of what we want and hope them to be? Do we really “love” this person, or do we love the image of them, which we have conjured in our imagination? Do we really know them any better than a stranger we see on the street?

By jeff noel

Retired Disney Institute Keynote Speaker and Prolific Blogger. Five daily, differently-themed personal blogs (about life's 5 big choices) on five interconnected sites.