Some time ago I thought I wanted to do something against that unbearable feeling that comes of being surrounded by so many at all times, yet not knowing anyone, not sharing a smile, not even meeting eyes.
I thought I could start asking strangers for a quick picture and share a fleeting but enjoyable instant with those I don’t know by breaking the seamlessness of the routine we are all committed to; a moment that maybe not trascendental, would have the potential of becoming truly meaningful.
I made a special Instagram account for this project (@ale_jay_scott).
This is the result:
#15: I just befriended Katy and Dima, an awesome Russian duo that spoke not much English, making my first request of a selfie a bit complicated. I met them at a bus station and we rode the 24路 bus line together (I was heading home while they were going to a club). They’ve been traveling in China for a couple of weeks and still plan to stay for another two more. March 19th. #selfieswithstrangers
#14: After watching Wil Sylvince’s show at the Kung Fu Komedy Club, we found the pretty Liu and her group of friends trying to get home from the club they’d been partying at; she was surprised to hear we wanted a picture with her. Ben Frank on the right, comedian and co-host of The Failure Show, doing the first guest appearance at this series. March 18th. #selfieswithstrangers
#13: While in 虹桥路 station I walked past these two fancy looking girls and I approached them to get a selfie; they decided to make the most serious faces for the shot. March 17th. #selfieswithstrangers
#12: As I walked towards exit 8 of 静安寺 station I saw Rex coming up the escalator wearing all black, full on leather and topped with a spectacular hat. He accepted to participate in the selfie right away. March 16th. #selfieswithstrangers
#11: TJ was the first person I saw on the bus this afternoon. I said hi and from then on we talked about it a lot: he mentioned his studies, his interest in events and networking while I found out we knew people in common. We managed to get in a selfie before the sun went down. March 15th. #selfieswithstrangers
#10: On my way past the Kung Fu Komedy Club I saw Melissa, abiding by the new law of Shanghai and smoking outside the building. Excellent smile. March 14th. #selfieswithstrangers
#9: John was the only person calmly walking downstairs against a stampede of people rushing to work in 静安寺 station this morning. I asked him for a selfie while the escalator cleared. March 13th. #selfieswithstrangers
#8 I caught Aaron changing lines at 镇坪路 station. I’d seen him before somewhere but never had the chance to talk to him. I told him I performed at the Kung Fu Komedy Clube and said he’d come to a show. It’s the first time since I started this challenge that a stranger stops being so, thanks to the selfie. March 12th. #selfieswithstrangers
#7 After a long and eventful day I got my picture done with these three Shanghainese beauties. They asked why I wanted a picture with them and I just said: ‘to share them on social media’. We smiled. March 11th. #selfieswithstrangers
#6: I took a quick selfie with Vicky and Brandon on my way back to the club; I had to go back to work for a second and as I was walking towards Kung Fu Komedy Vicky’s colorful dress made me want to try and ask for a picture with them. They couldn’t have been nicer people. March 10th. #selfieswithstrangers
#5: She had just paked her mobike besides 长寿路 station. She showed herself confused when I first approached her in english but joined me in a selfie after I repeated the request in mandarin; her face called my attention as she didn’t look like a 汉族 woman at all. March 9th. #selfieswithstrangers
#4 International Women’s Day Edition: Bouquet of Shanghainese Ayis about to start dancing at their local community center. I had walked past this doorway where the brief image of one of the women throwing perfect kicks in the air and over her head called my attention; I walked in, showed my mandarin skills and we shared this happy picture. March 8th. #selfieswithstrangers
#3: Different kind of pink window, different kind of meat. He was a bit reluctant at first but he got in the frame and posed for the selfie. I see this man every day at the corner of 襄阳北路／长乐路. March 7th. #selfieswithstrangers
#2: This man was wearing a pristine white Chef’s outfit and dancing by himself at 襄阳公园. He was a bit confused but accepted with a smile and thanked me after the picture was taken. I took that smile home with me. March 6th. #selfieswithstrangers
#1: I decided I had to start that night and on my way back home from the comedy club I asked this Chinese Policeman (or security guard, can never tell) and he accepted right away. I knew immediately that the feeling of accomplishment I got after facing my fear of approaching a stranger and being rejected was going to turn into an addiction and I couldn’t wait for the next day to go ahead and try again. March 5th. #selfieswithstrangers