Go see the movie Crash. I watched a very poor bootleg of it the other night when I found myself unable to sleep at 3:00 AM due to the incredible humidity. I had been hoping for a movie that would put me to sleep. Instead, I was completely taken by it. After the movie, when I did fall asleep, I had dreams about it for hours. I woke up to my mind having a conversation about the movie with itself.
The premise (and I'm not really ruining anything as its virtually the first line of the movie) is that human beings have become so isolated and yearn for human contact so desperately that they violently crash into one another just to feel something. From this pain springs racism, hatred, anger, desperation, sorrow, and further isolation. Remarkably, the movie actually teeters between depressing and inspiring.
It was intriguing to me because ever since reading a book called The Celestine Prophecy in my teens, I have been fascinated with this concept of human connectivity. Isolation has consumed us. It would be so easy to tear down the walls of isolation, but no one does. We can't let go of it. So many people are hollowed out by isolation.
The guys at work will laugh at me for bringing this up, but I've always suggested ideas that might make people stop and think for a moment. I just wish more people would stop and think to themselves 'is this really the only way to do this thing called life?'.
For example, how many people do you see on your way to work? I see only school children waiting for the bus, runners, and the occasional person dragging a garbage can to the curb. Everything else is cars and buildings. A person in a car is not a person, its a car with a person isolated inside of it. A building is just a giant honeycomb with people in it. There's a reason cubicles are called cubicles... because the term cell is too synonymous with jail.
So my theory goes like this. At lunch time, instead of driving, why not walk to the mall (which is about half a mile from my office) as a whole company? Then, eat lunch at the mall. Finally, walk back. It's that simple.
Imagine the conversation. You have 15 people to talk to from all different backgrounds, and you have nothing else to do than talk to them or walk in silence. Who, when given the chance to converse, truly wants to walk in silence. (Sidenote: I never understood why people sit completely silent on airplanes... its a tremendous opportunity to connect with someone from a completely different part of the world. I talk to the guy/girl next to me every chance I get. I don't know how the conversation starts, but it inevitably does.)
Imagine the people sitting in their cars thinking we're insane. Who walks with a group of 15 people to the mall? They would think we are crazy for not driving. But then it might occur to them that maybe we're happier NOT DRIVING for this one trip out of the day. That "does-not-compute" stimulus is what I want more to people to feel. And I want to feel it as well. It forces you out of your comfort zone, where the real ideas are.