I enjoy people watching. I'm always interested in seeing strangers interacting, and unfortunately, am disappointed when so many people are rude or indifferent to those around them. This isn't to say I'm not guilty of ignoring my surroundings. In college, I was walking in a grocery store and an older man startled me with a sharp, "Smile! It can't be that bad!" I snapped back from la-la land to realize he was talking to me and embarrassingly explained that I was just zoned out. It left an impression on me and I try to smile more and approach strangers with genuine greetings.
We are becoming a disconnected society. We are taught to fear our neighbors, distrust the motivations of coworkers and peers, and not disturb those we respect. The economic and social status lines are such stronger sound barriers, so much so that we forget to look those that serve us in the eyes and are too afraid to approach those we serve with any sign of personality.
I just came across the free hugs campaign the other day. The movement has already been going on for quite some time and has inspired similar campaigns around the world. It made me smile and restored my faith in the ability of one person to make an impact on another's life. So as a reminder to myself and as encouragement to the general public, please stop studying sidewalk cracks and counting clouds and share a free hug!