Melinda Blau

 

On her and Karen Fingerman's book Consequential Strangers: Turning Everyday Connections Into Life-Changing Moments

Cover Interview of August 23, 2010

In a nutshell

We are living at a time when digital technologies allow us to more easily extend the boundaries of our social circles than we could in the past.  This book recognizes that reality—and the fact that life is too complex to depend solely on the people closest to us.

Consequential Strangers examines the vast, unsung array of everyday people, on and off the Internet, who skirt the edges of our social circles and who have a surprisingly profound impact on our success, happiness, and health.

In collaboration with psychologist Karen L. Fingerman, who coined the term “consequential strangers,” I drew from a wealth of social science research and more than two hundred interviews to underscore the importance of this wider social terrain.

Unlike people closest to us, who know what we know, consequential strangers expand our horizons.  They can lead us to new ideas and allow us to stretch ourselves.  They offer information and resources we simply can’t get from loved ones.  While not all of these lesser relations are good to us or for us, the vast majority are–among other reasons because we can usually walk away when they’re not.