Hey guys, I wrote a new About Me page. I talk about how I grew up in Hiroshima, how I learnt English, and how I made so many international friends. I you haven’t read it yet, check it out here.
If you are a normal person who has good social skills, this video will make you feel very uncomfortable.
The title is ‘Staring at people 3’. Basically he stares at random people in public without saying (or saying some creepy) words. He tries both men and women.
It is almost too painful to watch. He is breaking all kinds of social codes here; when you look at somebody for longer than a few seconds, you are expected to say something. Otherwise, it will be very awkward. He is intentionally creating this awkward situation for fun and making people uncomfortable.
But, on the other hand, there’s something else in this video: people’s reaction is not that bad. They try to cope with this situation and say, ‘Can I help you?’ which, they hope, eases the tension. Some of them smile and keep smiling as he continues to stare.
When you create an awkward situation (intentionally or accidentally), people will help you by trying to make the situation better. Being awkward should not be that bad.
Now, watch this ‘Awkward Birthday’.
In this video, Andrew Hales (the guy in the video) tells random people that it’s his birthday and invites them to his imaginary birthday party.
As you can see, this is completely random. The first thing he says to a stranger is ‘Hey, it’s my birthday.’ Everybody knows that this is not how you are supposed to talk. A proper way of talking to people you don’t know would be introducing yourself, explaining the situation, and asking people a favour etc. Again, he is breaking the social rules, which is awkward.
Despite that, people are really nice with him. Most of them say ‘happy birthday’ at least (which by the way is an expected response when somebody tells you that it’s their birthday). Some of them even show some interest in his awkward birthday party, even though he deliberately makes it uninviting (‘at my parents’, just me and my sister’).
If you haven’t done something like this before (and I bet many people haven’t), would you expect people to be this friendly? Probably not.
One thing that separates Andrew from other people is that he is comfortable being awkward. Sure, he knows that he is on camera and he is acting, but people don’t know about this; their reaction is real.
People are naturally social. Even if you are awkward, if you just talk to them and carry on the conversation, they will respond to you positively.
You can even approach people like in the next video. It’s called ‘Picking Fights With People’.
What he does in this video is even more random than previous ones. Naturally, people get quite confused and don’t know how to react. Even then, some people are amazingly friendly and happy to interact with him. The girl with peanut butter and honey is the most interesting example. She is extremely cool about Andrew’s weird fighting act and starts talking to him as if she already knew him. They end up talking for a while. (He actually edits the first few seconds of the interaction. If you want to see what happened, you can see it here.)
What I like about Andrew is that, unlike other pranksters, he is always nice and doesn’t offend people too much. He is a likable guy and I can relate to him.
The following video is funny and will put a smile on your face.
This video is titled ‘Whispering Nerdy Things To People’, but he mostly says ‘I love you’. Obviously, it creeps people out, but it’s hard to get annoyed when somebody tells you they love you, even if they don’t really mean it.
Andrew’s channel tells us that you can get away with doing many things that we think we are not supposed to do.
This one is called ‘Taking People’s Umbrellas’, which he literally does. In this video, he casually approaches unsuspecting people and just takes their umbrellas as if it was the most normal thing in the world to do.
The people in the video are surprisingly complying. This prank is shot in China. The city is called Chengdu, which is ‘hardly a touristy town’ as Andrew puts. Therefore, you may think that it’s just Chinese people who are so complying.
But, apparently, American people are not that different. Watch the video ‘Stealing People’s Cell Phone‘. Phones are far more valuable than umbrellas. Not only are they more expensive, but they also contain personal information. Even so, when Andrew steals their phone, some of them just watch what’s happening and don’t really do anything about it. Sure, he gets knocked down once but that kind of reaction seems quite rare.
His videos remind me that most of people are quite nice and tolerating, and you never know what will happen until you start interacting with them.
He meets amazing people along the way. He gets a warm hug from this nice lady. He meets this nerdy girl who the audiences love. He gets a number from this pretty girl (and eventually a date, according to his video description.)
His YouTube name is LAHWF, which stands for ‘Losing All Hope Was Freedom’, a quote from Fight Club (1999). To me, his videos are saying that being awkward is freedom. Being OK with being awkward is freedom. If you stop caring how people might react and start being social, you will meet amazing people.
My colleagues were teasing me. They were insisting that I should come to the office by bicycle the next day. I always took the train, but they were riding their bikes to the office regularly. It was no big deal for them, but I wasn’t sure if I could do it.
‘Look, it’s only 13.6 km (8.5mi)!’ said one of them, showing me Google Maps.
‘Yeah, but you guys are used to biking. I am not,’ I said.
‘Come on. This is the kind of thing that will give you a man-point,’ he said. ‘Just come here by bike tomorrow. It’s not that hard. It only takes 45 minutes for me to get here,’ he insisted.
But I wasn’t convinced.
The Various Excuses I Came up with
I had good reasons why I didn’t bike. In fact, someone (the CEO) had already encouraged me to do so a few times before. But I always said no. For me, taking the train was definitely the most obvious choice and biking was not a practical way to commute.
Here are some of the things I thought:
- I’d taken the train to work for as long as I could remember. It wasn’t just unimaginable that I could bike instead of taking the train.
- It took me nearly 10 minutes (at least it felt like it) to get to the nearest station from home. Then how long would it take to get to the office which was 13 stations away?
- Some of the employees (and the CEO especially) had been biking already. I thought they were incredibly tough people, if not crazy.
- I had biked a few times to get to a few stations away and it had taken quite some time. From my rough estimation, it would take at least one and a half hour to get to the office.
- I remembered that there were slopes somewhere along the way. I would get tired very quickly if I had to bike all my way up.
- What would happen if you got too tired halfway? You wouldn’t be able to just take the train because you cannot leave your bike in a random place.
- Even if you could bike all the way to the office, what would happen if you decided to go out after work and the place is even farther than home? Sure, you can leave the bike at the office. But it would mean that when you took the train to go home, you would have to walk from the nearest station to your place. You wouldn’t want to do that when you were tired from work and the party would you?
The thing is, it is very easy to come up with reasons that you can’t do something.
But then, I began to see things differently.
How I Changed my Mind
After I had that conversation with my colleagues, the idea of biking to the office was stuck in my head. So I gave it a bit of thought.
Then, the idea started to sound much more feasible.
- As far as I remembered, the average cycling speed was around 20 km/h (12 mph). If Google says that the walking distance between my place and the office is 13.6km, it would take less than an hour if there were no traffic lights. Less than an hour was not that bad at all.
- Even if it took longer, I could always leave the bike at the office and take the train back home. Sure, I would have to walk from the train station to home but I’d done that countless times already and it was bearable.
- If I got tired halfway, I could take a break.
- Even if the other guys at the office were tougher, it wouldn’t take me twice as long as them. Even if it did take twice the time, it still wouldn’t be that serious.
Before I knew it, I had decided that I would ride my bike the next day.
What Happened the Following Day
So I did bike. And it was nothing.
The roads were quite straightforward and very easy to navigate. Even though there were slopes, they weren’t as bad as I thought. As for the time, to my surprise, it didn’t even take me an hour. (It took 56 minutes, to be precise.)
In short, it was far easier done than said. The only reason that I was thinking that it wouldn’t be possible was because it was something I had never done before.
People often think that things are not possible because they are things they are not used to doing. It seems like I was just too lazy to give it a serious thought.
And who knows? I am already thinking of biking a couple of days a week. It’s actually a very good way to exercise. You don’t have to pay for the gym; obviously, biking’s completely free. And you have to commute anyway so you don’t have to dedicate special time to it. It seems like it has many upsides and very few downsides.