Sometimes a wholesome experience is just around the corner. All we have to do is let it into our lives.
On April 30, author Mitali Perkins published a tweet, describing the unexpected encounter she had with a random teen. "I was walking alone yesterday when an unsmiling teen on a bike whizzed by," Perkins wrote. "Our eyes met. He circled back, and I couldn't help bracing myself for our encounter. 'Hey, lady,' he said gruffly. 'Five ducklings. Under the culvert ahead.' Then he did a wheelie and sped off."
The tweet instantly blew up (as it should) and already has over 138K likes. But most importantly, it has inspired other Twitter users to share their own pleasant moments with strangers. Below are some of the sweetest ones.
Perkins said she didn't know what to make of the situation at first. "The teenager seemed angry and there was nobody else around," she told Bored Panda. "We were separated racially and generationally, so I wasn't sure of his intentions. I was on guard, that's for sure." Luckily, everything turned out for the best.
"Encounters with 'strangers and aliens' across borders of culture, age, and power are often moments where I receive God's presence and love," Perkins explained. "These divinely human connections have become a private collection of delight and I go on the hunt for them now."
But what allows us to break the boundaries of our differences? To trust people outside our circle and form meaningful bonds, even if just for a few seconds? Well, one study suggests it's their looks
"We found that attractive subjects gain a 'beauty premium' in that they are trusted at higher rates, but we also found a 'beauty penalty' when attractive people do not live up to expectations," said Rick Wilson, the Herbert S. Autrey Professor of Political Science and Professor of Psychology and Statistics at Rice University. Wilson is the co-author, with Catherine Eckel, professor of economics at the University of Texas-Dallas, of a study titled 'Judging a Book by Its Cover: Beauty and Expectations in the Trust Game.'
The researchers took 206 students from Virginia Tech, Rice University, and North Carolina A&T to participate in a two-part experiment to examine trust and attractiveness. In the first part, subjects were photographed and took part in a series of trust games. In the second part, another group of subjects evaluated the photographs for attractiveness. Researchers controlled for gender, race, facial expression, glasses and jewelry so those factors did not enter into the decision.
Each person posed for four photographs — two neutral and two smiling — and then he or she picked one to be used for the game. Each participant was also given 10 'lab dollars' to exchange during the game. Then they were shown photographs of other students and told to send any amount they wanted to each of them. The experimenter then tripled the amount and gave it to the second student. Then the recipient decided how much to return to the sender. Students kept the money that was exchanged.
In the second part of the experiment, another group of students evaluated the photos for 15 traits, including attractiveness. In the trust games, on average, more money was sent to attractive people. Likewise, trusting attractive people was justified because they tended to reciprocate with higher amounts of money.
"Attentiveness to attractiveness may be embedded as part of our cognitive apparatus," Wilson said. "There are evolutionary reasons why humans might be attentive to attractiveness, including that historically it signaled good genes, substantial parental investment or status."
Perkins had been on a solo retreat just before encountering her new friend, Kevin. The author saw him again the next day when she came back to try and find the ducklings. "During those three days in silence, I'd been wondering if my presence on social media was useful in any way to the planet. I came home, met Kevin, and posted the story. And then I was overcome by the string of beautiful stories that people began to share."
Reading the tweets one after the other was really meaningful to Perkins. "There's a story of Jesus interacting with a small boy and a hungry crowd. The child offered five fish and two loaves, and I imagine Jesus taking them with a smile as he began to feed many people. I felt an affirmation of my small contribution of words to the world—that they, too, can be used to bring sustenance in some way even if flawed and simple. Keep writing, Mitali, I heard, even in a sometimes disheartening venue like Twitter. And so I shall," she said.