Smoker one says something like, “What? I would have never thought that you smoke too! How cool! ”Smoker two is then completely moved because moments like this have become rare. Today you are lonely as a young smoker, the fewest members of my health-conscious generation voluntarily clear their lungs. “Wow … I … great …” smoked two smokers. And the two go out together in harmony to light a cigarette.
Sympathy is based on common ground
I know this kind of situation very well. I was already in the role of smoker one and also in the role of smoker two. The amount and regularity of my tobacco consumption qualify me as an occasional smoker, some also call me a party smoker (which is semantically not entirely correct because I am occasionally, but not only smoke at parties). I am not addicted, to be honest I sometimes feel sick from smoking. But I can’t really get away from it – because there is something about smoking that I find great. And it’s not nicotine.
To understand what I mean, you have to know something, namely: whether we humans like someone else depends to a large extent on how similar that person is to us. Wow, did you study at the same university as I did? You grew up in the same state? You always cut the edges of bread? Great!
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Each of us looks for similarities in others. Through them we immediately feel closer to our counterpart. Now there are innocent similarities such as universities, federal states and aversions to bread edges. And there are problematic similarities like the love of cigarettes. Because smoking is undisputed and bad. Even very bad. It’s unhealthy, expensive, and stinks.
Yes, smokers harm their bodies. But, and that is quite independent of it, they have one ability above most other people: They are basically positive at first. You like yourself. I have been able to experience this attitude myself in a wide variety of situations, at parties, in university seminars, in new jobs. Smokers manage to get involved with each other with an open mind with a cigarette in front of the door. I am also a much more relaxed conversation partner when the person opposite me and I both have a tip in my hand.
We don’t need cigarettes to talk
Too often in cigarette-free everyday life we only have prejudice and skepticism when we get to know someone. This new colleague constantly comes over to me, does he want to snatch my area of responsibility away from me? And why is the new boss so nice? Does she want to slip in so that she can put more work on me? Most of us think like this every day. But smokers don’t care about such things when they meet. They are simply happy about the company and hand out the lighter.
To make this clear: Under no circumstances do I want to encourage anyone to smoke here. But unfortunately the fact is that there is no similar activity that brings people together so well. We are happy if someone comes from the same region as us or likes the same side food. But would we go out and chat with someone just because we just found that we were both cutting off the bread crusts?
Probably not – but maybe that wouldn’t be so wrong. After all, common ground is common ground, isn’t it? And we have quite a number of them, especially among colleagues. We work for the same company, towards similar goals, on similar or even the same projects. We have similar fears of not meeting our deadline or failing in our next salary negotiation. We have enough basics to talk to. We don’t need cigarettes to talk to each other.