Consequential Strangers: The Power of People Who Don't Seem to Matter... but Really Do
Melinda Blau, Karen Fingerman, . . Norton, $25.95 (276pp) ISBN 978-0-393-06703-3
While, as the authors state, “practically every article and book, every therapist, and every relationship guru in the media focus almost exclusively on 'primary relationships,' ” there is a dearth of attention paid to individuals' secondary—or tertiary—connections: the butcher, the dry cleaner, the proprietor of the bodega where we shop daily. Transient individuals, friends of friends and their acquaintances play critical roles in our lives, say Baby Whisperer Blau and Purdue professor Fingerman. These people have access to resources intimates might not and can challenge our belief systems. This book is especially cogent today when so many unemployed are relying on social networking contacts on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, where “friends” most likely aren't part of an inner circle, but could know of a job not publicly advertised. Anecdotes, television, scholarly studies and Blau and Fingerman's own experience—they were “consequential strangers” who first met via telephone—illustrate the importance of individuals we often take for granted yet who enrich our lives in ways not immediately noticeable but that could prove highly significant.
Reviewed on: 08/24/2009