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But They Think I'm An Alien

When I smile at people on the street, I get the weirdest looks.  You would think I had 3 heads or something.  After a few interactions like that, I stop looking at people altogether and just pretend I am one of them.  It's very rare that I come across someone that has the same mentality as I do & actually manages to smile back
trixi trixi 41-45, F 81 Responses Feb 11, 2008

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:) back atcha!

I have the same problem. But mostly people just stop and stare at me like they've never seen anything like me before in their life. Makes me wonder what they see

I don't always smile at strangers, but when I do, I've been lucky to have them smile back. I think it just catches some people off guard. People aren't used to it, so some react kinda negatively. Just keep doing what you do....keep smiling! :-)

I've made it my new year resolution to smile and greet just about everyone I meet and encounter. So far so good. People smile back at me and greet me and I have random conversations with people all the time...at the grocery store, in lines while waiting, at work etc... I get a positive response from most people. Maybe its working for me because I don't expect people to respond negatively IDK. And if they don't smile or say anything back it doesn't bother me.

poeple can be mean sometimes..............but i would smile at you back

I would definitely smile back. I like smiling at people and sending "good vibes" about.

I can never win. I smile and I'm glared at. I don't and strangers ask me why I look so sad or angry. Can't win so I quit trying. Now, I glare at everyone.

did you stop smiling at people?

I have to comment, you are so spot on!!<br />
I lived in London for 30 years, when I first moved there from the friendly provinces yes, I smiled and got those looks reserved for aliens and idiots. That changed when I got a dog, mind you, and when I had children, then people do smile at you. Now I am away again in a far province and I can smile again.<br />
Be careful though smiling in smileless places, some idiots see it as a sexual advance...

Great write up! I feel the same way, lol. I smile at everyone and get so (mad inside) when they don't smile back :) I feel some people, well a lot of people, are just very unhappy.

I say hello to strangers. Sometimes. they say hello back. You get a nice warm "fuzzy" feeling.

Oh I get the same thing! some of them even give you a dirty look. Don't stop smiling we don't want to turn into them :)

Ahh... If only When i smile at strangers they would think i was an alien! If only... you think that bcauz ppl look @ u weirdly when you smilke is beacauze they think you r weird..... no no darling!! When u smile @ ppl they envy u1 they couldnt even make an effort to smile at someone cauz they are fmile can make a difference... when u smile @ full of prblms & **** in their life. u may have the same issues but @ least u r able to smile @ someone.... when u do to a person who thinks u r atracctive they think u like them too... when you smile at an old person u might be the last person they see smiling... when u smile to a stranger u dnk but u make their day... (sometimes @ Least :P )...<br />
when i smile to ppl especcially men or boys my own age everybody thinks im hittin' on them! =.=<br />
when i smile @ girls they think i wanna get close to them for interest! it is a Effed up world and ur smile could of have just made somebodys day!!!!! <br />
With <3 from NNC!

Ahh... If only When i smile at strangers they would think i was an alien! If only... you think that bcauz ppl look @ u weirdly when you smilke is beacauze they think you r weird..... no no darling!! When u smile @ ppl they envy u1 they couldnt even make an effort to smile at someone cauz they are fmile can make a difference... when u smile @ full of prblms & **** in their life. u may have the same issues but @ least u r able to smile @ someone.... when u do to a person who thinks u r atracctive they think u like them too... when you smile at an old person u might be the last person they see smiling... when u smile to a stranger u dnk but u make their day... (sometimes @ Least :P )...<br />
when i smile to ppl especcially men or boys my own age everybody thinks im hittin' on them! =.=<br />
when i smile @ girls they think i wanna get close to them for interest! it is a Effed up world and ur smile could of have just made somebodys day!!!!! <br />
With <3 from NNC!

a smile for you, stranger:) I Love doing such...

I experience the same thing! I automatically/usually smile at people.. You never know how hard people's day have been and a smile might just make it better! Or maybe not, but... It's just polite to do so. (And to mention: I live in Denmark) Many will return the smile, but, many wont! And those who don't, give me the strangest look.

I try to maintain my face in a relaxed half smile at all times. this makes me more approachable by people in need. for instance, recently in a crowd, a stranger walked up to me and asked for help. He said he was dizzy and asked it I had any candy or gum in my purse. As luck would have it (I guess), I am a diabetic and always keep a Glucerna bar in my purse. It's a type of bar that helps stabilize blood sugar. I gave it to him and then stayed by his side for a while until he felt better.

i have horrified multiple friends who accompanied me by smiling at and beginning conversations with complete strangers all the time. i thought everyone did it until some of my friends told me that no everyone most certainly does not do it. well, i always have, and i will continue to. if you treat people like friends, then 9 times out of 10 they will be friends, just be careful of that other one, it is probably trying to pick your pocket. consider an encounter with another person like a game of rock paper scissors or 1,2,3... shoot --- it is like that (but more complicated but you get the idea) you both go into it holding some part of the encounter. if you are holding a smile, then maybe you can see what they are holding for a smiling person. but if you are not smiling you would never see that. i have occasionally thought when i am feeling lustful that i would welcome it if complete strangers would pull down my pants and blow me off. what card do i have to hold to get that to happen lol? life is a complicated game. but it is easier if you smile. then when i went to a new school and smiled at random people there it was like everyone hated me for it (then they called me smiley). there are some people who just are not into seeing happy people (achievement oriented cultures etc, the school only rewarded quote unquote achievement and i still havent learned what the hell that is other than something that someone else wants from you and is trying to get you to do for them in exchange for a pat on the back or some money) i guess they think something else besides happiness itself will be even better than that. lol who knows.

I smile and say hello sometimes. I'm in TX, and I get weird looks back. Is it racism, or am I not speaking loud enough. I'm shy, and may not be as open as I think I am.

I love it when strangers smile at me. Although sometimes im caught off guard and dont have time to smile back, maybe thats your problem

I love it when strangers smile at me. Although sometimes im caught off guard and dont have time to smile back, maybe thats your problem

Awe, everyone is making me smile. I am so glad there are people who think like I do. I like to smile at people and once in a while ,someone smiles back and it just makes my day. So what if a lot of people are missing out, that's their bag.

never stop smiling!<br />
when im walking home from school, i always want to smile at the people on the street, but i feel that my smile is ugly and awkward.<br />
i love it when someone smiles at me first, or holds open a door for me while smiling!! (live in a building, always holding doors open or running to someone holding a door waiting for me)<br />
there need to be more poeple like you in the world :)

Never take those reactions as personal. Allow me to give a clear example:<br />
<br />
When visiting London for the first time many years ago, I was taken aback by the fact that almost all Londoners never look anyone in the eye or even toward another, either on the street or on a train.<br />
<br />
Yet, if I needed directions or information and stopped anyone on the street, I was given full and polite attention. Once, a businessman even went out of his way to guide me two blocks away to find an office.<br />
<br />
I learned that, partly because it's a relatively small island, that residents traditionally are very sensitive to another's privacy. To look anyone in the eye, or even smile at a stranger, is considered bad manners.<br />
<br />
Here in the U.S. within the past few decades, many people are wary of others. We have become even more of a multi-cultural society. Unfortunately, that means many people we don't know can be dangerous.<br />
<br />
It is no longer a good idea to smile at people in most public areas if we don't know them. However, if you are in a church area - as an example of the exceptions - smiling at those you don't know is considered completely appropriate. There, you will almost always be returned with a smile of appreciation for your attention.

Well to some its weird. Well it depends on the place where your doing it. and the culture too (not the country, but the people in that particular community i.e. school, workplace, or maybe city)<br />
<br />
For now i see it, people i know see it rude ignore people greeting them.<br />
just smile, and smile back at them

"I've heard that people who live down south are more friendly than in the people in the north."<br />
<br />
That was more true 30 or so years ago than it is now. Southern hospitality has followed the rest of the world and packed her bags and left. She was replaced by this shell people have around them. The shell has been worn for so long, it's started to fuse with the person within it.

OH MY GOSH.....I thought I was the only one....I am a server and at work sometimes all day long the people I deal with look at me with that ALIEN look. It drives me nuts. My coworkers laugh at me because ask them...what wrong....why are these people staring at me like that.......

In times of economic stress, WE are socialized to turn on one another instead of working together to solve problems. This is one source of our discontent, meanness and indifference. Smile anyway, it gives the rest of us permission to smile as well. Sometimes, we'll even join you<br />
:-)

I know!! I smile and/or wave at people as I pass them, and not many return the gesture. The town that I've now moved to is a bit more friendly, though, but that's probably because it's mostly old people! <br />
<br />
Have you ever noticed that when you're little, and you wave, you just light someone up? And now? Diddly-squat. When I was little I used to always wave at old people because I thought that they were fun. Then, as I grew up, I would notice less and less smiles. *-and so the weird looks begin!-* lol<br />
<br />
But don't take it personal if someone doesn't acknowledge you. I've had experiences where I'll be walking up street hills, out of breath, and not realize that someone just passed smiling at me.<br />
<br />
~B

I feel you 100% but what I've decided is that I'm not the one who has a problem. I've gotten to the point where I make eye contact and smile when I'm in the mood. It's hard for me to hide the way I feel inside and I know that it shows on the surface sometimes. However, when I am in a good mood and I smile at people and make eye contact with them if I don't get the same in return it doesn't deter me because maybe that person is having a bad day. Nonetheless, I can't let it ruin my day or mood... and neither should you :)

I really like what ravenwolf said. Hopefully we are leaving the zeitgeist of cynicism.

I almost find it awkward to NOT smile at someone you pass by, except in highly populated areas like the mall or something... I know that when I get a smile from someone passing by it sure makes me feel special :)

people say i smile too much... :)

Yeah I know what you mean it's the same for me people can be so rude.

I've found that even when a smile is fake, it's still a smile :) Keep smiling it makes others smile with you. <br />
Just a knowing feeling within...

I think smiling at stanger is not as bad as it sound, actually is a good thing. See right now we live in a society in which we lack human interaction. We're alway texting, or online on our cell, or just listening to our iPod. Now a days we could live without having to walk out of the house and interact with humans. Anyone one of us could work from home, shop online, and pay bills onlines, thus equaling to next to zero human communication. So I truly beleive we need more people who take the time to smile or even say hi to others regardless if you know them or not. This actually teaches children to be kind to others despite their age, race, gender, or any other differences.<br />
I alway make sure to say hi to everyone I deal with and smile at strangers. If I'm on call with customer serivce agent of some call center I make sure to say hi and ask them about their day, I also make sure to say hi and thank you to the busy driver. As you could tell I have really strong views about this topic, because mainly I hate the fact that my generation is well known for being self absorbed selfish being and I would like that to change with a smile and a two letter word, hi.<br />
<br />
Also don't forget a little smile goes a long way.

i love reading everyone's comments. i never imagined i'd get so much feedback on this. duana, you might be onto something there, that the way we act goes along with where we come from. and by the way, i'm part swedish too. what a coincidence. and on another note, i'm not typical in any way, shape or form, and i'm certainly not political. so maybe you're right about people just instinctively knowing that i go against every possible grain.<br />
thanks.<br />
trix

This could mean a million different things. All Americans (or most) are democratic capitalists- if you have any tendencies that are different than that this alone could be a reason people percieve you differently- as people pick this kind of stuff up by instinct.<br />
<br />
Anyway that was just an example. I have no idea what the case is for you- but it is probably most likely about some aspect of socialization. I am sure if you interacted with people from different countries you will find different reactions. (Do you know what your roots are? It could be something to do with that. All the way up to 8th grade I was greated people with 'hey' instead of 'hi', and people thought it was so weird about me- even I didn't know why I did it! When I was older by fluke I started taking Swedish lessons and first thing I learned is that 'hey' is hi in Swedish. Well I am half Swedish- so it finally made sense!)

People always look at me like I have three heads. On a normal basis, and especially when I smile at them. It's common courtesy to smile and be kind, and people just think you want something from them. Being a teenager, if I smile at someone they probably think I'm being rude or something. People are twisted.

I've heard that people who live down south are more friendly than in the people in the north.

I've heard that people who live down south are more friendly than in the people in the north.

Usually people stare and look at me, but yet if I do the same and look at them, they take that as a challenge or get weirded out.<br />
What the heck.

Don't feel bad. I have that problem too. Most of the time I'm just trying to be a nice guy.<br />
<br />
Unfortunately you'll just have to live with the fact that I too struggle with, that the world is full of a**holes and the best you can do about it is to simply ignore most people one can come across and hope no one bothers me.

bubbleyum,<br />
how truly sad :(

I try to smile and greet just about everyone I come across during the day. I say "good morning" to ppl in line at Starbucks, smile at the bagger at the grocery store. It's fun to see ppl smile back - they seem to relax a bit. I've been known to get a whole long line of ppl to sing xmas carols while waiting in line while shopping on black friday after Thanksgiving. Keep smiling at others - you'd be amazed how good it makes them feel even if they don't show it.

i am smiling so BIG right now after reading all these wonderful comments. thanks to you all!!! :))))

I think it is sweet and even courteous to smile at people. As others before me have said - that we are sharing your joy and love. <br />
How sad that there are those out there who question our motives. They are wrapped up in their own little world, with their own group of friends, probably. I think they are very self-righteous, probably have a husband, and are less alone than I am.<br />
When I see someone at the grocery store I will always help them if they can't find something, etc. Recently when I was perplexed about not being able to find something (couldn't find the cornstarch - because after all of these years, believe it or not - they changed the yellow colored box), well there I am in the baking section, mumbling and questioning about it to myself, and briefly mentioning it to this woman shopper-passer-by. She looked at me as if I was about to robb her. ha ha How sad - for her... <br />
Keep Smiling !<br />
califnan

So how many heads do you have again?

when i walk around smiling guys thinks its flirting...i smile and i dont even realize it! lol...smiling makes people seem friendly...i still do it regardless...

I do it too!! to be nice of course but i know what you mean!!! some people look at you like you are an alien!! ha ha ha!!!! but everytime i come across those ones i tend to try to mess with them.. if they are in their car next to me then if they don't smile back or wave i sit and wave till they either do or the light turns green.. for the most part people just laugh about it.. cuz they all know its in fun!!!

Same here. Sometimes I thinks it's the part of town I'm in cause I do get smiles back. Other times I wonder what side of the trash can did they wake up on. Smiling is healthy, so I do it all the time.

Cosmo is dead on, I've lived in five different cities in the past 10 years and I was shocked about the smiling thing. We lived in Austin for awhile and I got used to smiling, saying hi to strangers and getting great responses, we moved to Northern California and I was actually given dirty looks when I smiled at my neighbors. I stopped doing it in CA b/c the people made me feel so bad. I'm so glad we moved, we're in Georgia now and it's better, not as friendly as Austin but way better than CA.

Yeah sometimes it has to do with them having a bad day which is the result of the environment they are in on that particular day and the course of events that led up to that moment. I think i've had my share of experience of what you just said but don't let anything stop you from continuing smiling or being open to showing love because i think were starting to realize the world is changing in the worst way and we have to get the message across to as many as we can to bring it back to the way it should be. There are certain things that will take time to change and some things that cause conflict like politics and religion we obviously can't change at present but it is a social paradox that we are torn between the way other people do things and the way we know and feel we should do them inside, also overcoming our fear of society is very important, i believe we should think and feel for ourselves with the openess to be considerate to others.<br />
: D

Yeah sometimes it has to do with them having a bad day which is the result of the environment they are in on that particular day and the course of events that led up to that moment. I think i've had my share of experience of what you just said but don't let anything stop you from continuing smiling or being open to showing love because i think were starting to realize the world is changing in the worst way and we have to get the message across to as many as we can to bring it back to the way it should be. There are certain things that will take time to change and some things that cause conflict like politics and religion we obviously can't change at present but it is a social paradox that we are torn between the way other people do things and the way we know and feel we should do them inside, also overcoming our fear of society is very important, i believe we should think and feel for ourselves with the openess to be considerate to others.<br />
: D

Hi!<br />
<br />
This resonates with me.<br />
<br />
I remember on my first day of University, my brother & I were walking from our Apartment to Campus, and the first piece of advice he gave me was 'don't smile at people' <br />
<br />
I found it strange, but apparently it causes unwanted attention from the wrong kinds of people sometimes. <br />
<br />
Now that I am out of University, I still do it... I smile at folks when I see them. It's most natural to me. I love when people smile at me, perfect strangers. What I do find strange, is if I smile at someone and they don't smile back... that seems unnatural (unless they think I'm giving off a weird vibe, which I don't think I do)... but like Cosmo said on one of the above comments, it depends on where you are...<br />
<br />
<br />
<br />
To end this comment, by the end of my first year of University, I was voted as the only year 1 person who knows SOO many ppl on campus. & the thing was, I didn't really know everyone, just my smiling personality allowed them to smile @ me and hail me out & stop to talk (so it worked out well after all)

I say, keep smiling!!!! I bet all of those people needed the smile you gave more than you know, more than he or she even realized. I've received sincere smiles that have brightened my day, and I can still see some of them.... thanks to all who smile

My Mom used to tell me to "always be friendly" so when I was young I just always smiled at people I didn't know. Well in 6th grade I smiled at a guy and he wouldn't leave me alone b/c he thought I liked him (as a bf). I didn't even know him, it was the first day of class, guess not many people smiled at him. It was flattering but also saddened me. I always try to smile at people, for the same reasons mentioned in the comments above. Sometimes I can't react quick enough and get my smile out there tho when I see someone smiling at me at the last minute. So that could also be a reason someone doesn't smile back, maybe they're in such deep thought that they aren't really "seeing" you when they look at you.

I forgot to mention "Northern VA" is not part of VA, psychologically.

Maryland is not known for open-heartedness. South of Mason-Dixon line is more open, but Maryland is an exception. WV is very open-hearted but they may not smile, they are not responsive. VA is more likely to respond.

I grew up in Chicago proper and Chicagoland, now live in the "big city" of 50k in semi rural WI...moving into the country (my dream). I smile and chat with almost everybody. Pitch in to pick up something they've dropped, laugh with the person behind the counter wherever I go. Heck, I greet the WalMart Greeter. If ppl think I'm 'weird' I'm glad I don't know about it. I would likely try more... but if this kept up...I'd withdraw too. This would be a darn shame...as one of my goals in life is to make others feel good, or happy...to bring a smile to others. Yes, it sounds very pollyanna... so sue me. lolol <br />
<br />
Smiling at all here and thanking you for your words.<br />
<br />
d-

Don't stop smiling! Most people would smile back but sometimes you do get the occasional WTF weirdos who's attitudes would make lemons look sweet. <br />
<br />
I love it when I get smiled at....and I also love to smile. Makes things around you so much brighter...even if you're having a bad day. So you know what...maybe of the 50 ppl you smile at for the day bet you atleast half will return the sunshine!

The same thing happens to me. I was told that smiles are contagious but every morning when I ride my bike and smile at someone they look back like they think I am on drugs, but on the other hand some people smile back like they can't believe anyone noticed them at all and that in itself is worth continuing trying to spread it around.

I wish there were more people like you, and lollipop63, and ravenwolf and igwig... in fact i think that there are a lot of people who believe in the inherent goodness of others and want to share a simple smile but society's conventions stop them. sometimes i try to smile at people on the street and sometimes i dont, it depends on the place and the situation. but something feels off if i dont, the basic smile of acknowledgement that should be there but that is increasingly being eroded as societies become larger and more automatic and more unresponsive.

i think it is great to be friendly. i often smile at people and even talk to them out of the blue. my daughter says it embaresses her - how can i do it. but i just do. I am friendly by nature. Sometime people are friendly back, sometimes they are rude. Does it really matter? To me No - i am who i am and i love being me.

I've had a related experience. When i'm in a store, if i smile at another customer, sometimes they assume i work there. (Does this mean their assumption is, "Who would smile for free?"!) They ask me, "Where can i find...?" i say, "Well, i don't work here, but--" and they say, "Oh, excuse me, i don't know why i thought you did." I can't say i agree with the "expectation" responses; i started out expecting people to smile back. I do agree the size of the town makes a difference, though.

Most of the time while waiting in line at the grocery store I notice who is in a hurry and impatient (most people). Most don't take the time to appreciate the moment, and experience every moment and all that is good. I make it a point to read the cashier's name tag and say "thank you Jane/John" and it shows them that I actually give a #%$*. I do enjoy saying hello to a stranger and have the ability to strike up a conversation with most anyone. I guess I appreciate life and all it's happenings. Wish more did.

I only smile to small kids.<br />
They don't think I'm weired,though some may shy,a lot of them would smile back,for they might think I'm fun.<br />
try that~ignore those unfriendly and superficial adults.

I'm really glad I'm not the only person that smiles at strangers! I think I picked it up from my mama - she's in her late 60s now, and it seems to me that people in her generation are much more likely to smile back at me than younger ones. Just an observation. I think a lot of people these days are too busy to even register that the smile is even directed at them - sad, really.

Hi Trixi- I'm from Md also but my mom was from South Carolina where EVERYONE said Good Morning, Afternoon or Evening no matter what the age, so I always do too. Some people have never had that consideration in their life and I get looks from-Are you a mental patient- to-Are you looking at my husband!. LOL Be yourself-you know a smile can sometimes turn the lonliest person's terrible day into a moment of hope that wasn't there previously and to pass goodness to another is a precious thing-keep doing it. Goodness needs all the help it can get!

my motto in life is 'if you see someone without a smile, give them one of yours,.<br />
I get the strangest looks but I always smile at everyone who's eyes I meet. Its a lovely feeling to be able to walk around smiling and genuinely mean it.

I smile at randoms sometimes. It's all part of the perpetual, complex dance of human eye contact and body language. One smile says "warm and friendly", another says "sleazy old man". Once you become a Jedi Master of smiling, you will rule the world. sort of.

Tell me about it! I always smile to people on the street, but when they give you a filthy look back or ignore you entirely, you just stop trying. It's sad how unfriendly we all are nowadays - when I hold open doors for people, they completely ignore me too! It might sound old-fashioned, but it is quite irritating when you're a nice girl, just standing there holding open the door and no one can even smile or say thankyou, let alone offer to take it for you! It's really worrying just how anti social we're all becoming.<br />
<br />
I will carry on smiling, in hope that I might improve somebodies day but it would be nice if once in a while, people weren't so damn rude....I want to be kind, and have hope that maybe they didn't smile back because they were having a bad day but at the same time, I don't want to be a fool :)

Tell me about it! I always smile to people on the street, but when they give you a filthy look back or ignore you entirely, you just stop trying. It's sad how unfriendly we all are nowadays - when I hold open doors for people, they completely ignore me too! It might sound old-fashioned, but it is quite irritating when you're a nice girl, just standing there holding open the door and no one can even smile or say thankyou, let alone offer to take it for you! It's really worrying just how anti social we're all becoming.<br />
<br />
I will carry on smiling, in hope that I might improve somebodies day but it would be nice if once in a while, people weren't so damn rude....I want to be kind, and have hope that maybe they didn't smile back because they were having a bad day but at the same time, I don't want to be a fool :)

When I was a kid I made a game of smiling. I would try to see how many people I could get to smile with my smile.<br />
<br />
Many people are very wrapped up in their own mind that they do not even see you sharing your love with the world. <br />
<br />
Many people believe a stranger smiling at them means the stranger wants something from them. That is why you get the weird looks.<br />
<br />
Never stop smiling, because you are sharing your love with the world and that is a precious and beautiful gift you are willing to give. You never know who's life you may change that day even if you don't get to see the results. <br />
<br />
Smiles, Light and Love - RavenWolf

I love to smile at ppl even if I don't know them. It just gives me a warm feeling inside to know that a smile can make a person's day. Even if the person doesn't smile back I always greet ppl because that's just the way I'am. If a smile could say a thousand words than I have said a million words in a day.

I'm from just north of you, also a rural area. I know you're going to think I'm crazy, Kamisgirl, but I do believe that our expectations play a part in what actually happens.And, it might not happen the first time, or the second, but over time, it will.---I almost always get the green light and a great parking spot, too. I'm not being flippant with you. I just expect it to happen:)

where are you from? i'm from rural MD and some people here are pretty wrapped up in themselves.

I think Cosmo must be right. I always expect people to smile back and they almost always do:)

yeah, probably so. thanx