How to make strangers more open-minded

I am a very big fan of social experiments. I like to challenge the way people think, especially when these people are strangers. For me, social experiments are also a way of seeing how people are, how open minded people are or what their previous experiences have been.

A way for me to see what kind of person someone is, is by taking on a character. I like telling that I am things that I am not, but that I could be, even though I don’t fit the general profile. When they ask me where I am from, I tell them I am from South Africa or Brazil, because people generally don’t expect blonde haired, blue eyed people to come from these exotic places. However, blonde, blue eyed South Africans and Brazilians definitely exist.


The idea is that the next time people think about South Africans or Brazilians, they will not only see the dark skinned people they had in mind before. They will probably also remember that one blonde chick that was from there. They might even tell their friends about what an odd experience it was.

I think it is important to avoid routine, doing the same things with the same people who are all from the same place and think the same things. For me it’s not about lying about who I am to sound more interesting, but I think it is important for people to have different experiences with different people. Different social or cultural groups can stay very segregated and therefore it is very easy to think that a ‘everyone’ is like the people in your social environment. You are in a position of getting into certain groups of people where people with different stories don’t get in so easily, so use that access to tell the stories that other people can not tell.

An example of this a commercial the Victoria Secret model Doutzen Kroes did. She made a commercial telling people she has HIV to make the subject of being HIV positive less of a taboo.

But there are many other interesting experiments like this. A transgender person who describes how different their experience was while being male.  The straight Christian male who pretended to be gay for a year. These kind of experiences are often not only good for the people you meet, but also for you. Doing this, I can experience what it is like to be treated the way other people from these lesser known communities are treated.

And I would recommend it to everyone! Think of all the things you could possibly be. This can be from a different nationality, being raised with gay parents, being gay yourself, or being straight. You can tell people you are a different age just to see how differently people treat you. You can say you are from a different part of town. You can go around and say you were born a different gender. You can say you really like video games.  Try to think of something that doesn’t happen a lot in your circles. Something that people usually have prejudices about. Not only will it give other people a different perspective on those communities, you yourself will also experience what it is like to be treated like someone else. Being a minority is not an experience most people will have, but this could give you an inside look into the world of minorities, the way people treat them.


I know it might sound a bit crazy, but when you are in a city where nobody knows you, try it out! I can assure you it is great fun, and it feels like a little victory when people are actually believing your story, but the best moment is of course when people say “I had never met anyone like you before, but you are actually really cool”.

Mission accomplished.

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