The Current

Talking to strangers is good for us — and for politics, says author

Loneliness is an epidemic in Canada and author Kio Stark argues the lost art of talking to strangers can help address the feeling of being alone. It can help the lonely, the person reaching out and may even alter political views.
Author Kio Stark says talking to strangers has benefits for us, for them — and for politics. (

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According to Statistics Canada, as many as 1.4 million elderly Canadians report feeling lonely.

Writer and researcher Kio Stark has a solution to help address the feeling of being alone. She argues talking to strangers — on the street, or in the subway, wherever we pass them — is something people should be doing more often in person.

​"There is a real significant political benefit to this — a public good," Stark tells Tremonti.

"The more you talk to people that are different than you ... the more you get a sense of who they are, of what it's like to be them."

Stark, author of When Strangers Meet: How People You Don't Know Can Transform You, believes talking to strangers is "a kind of openness and understanding that we need a lot more of these days, particularly in America right now."

"Everyone has this need for intimacy, for a sense of being heard, for a sense of community." 

She says even fleeting intimacy — moments of connection with someone you don't know and may never see again —still counts.

"It seems like a very small thing if I talk to a stranger ... and learn something about them... but it stacks up, it's incremental."

Stark believes reaching out to elderly people is "a special gift" and it's important to recognize the opportunities around the world to make interaction, even the person who doesn't look you in the eye.

"You can stop and say 'good morning' as you pass them by moving faster than they are."

"You're doing somebody a really good turn."

Listen to the full conversation at the top of this web post.

This segment was produced by The Current's Karin Marley.