This book was a tough read…
Took me a long time to get through it…
When I say this, it is because unlike Malcolm Gladwell’s @malcolmgladwell other books, this one touched on extremely emotional topics.
I didn’t get it at first, as usual (I’m slow) or perhaps it’s the haze of cognitive dissonance…

I didn’t like it at first is because it made me feel things I didn’t want to feel.


It made me think about topics I avoid…

It made me uncomfortable.

It made me nauseous…at times.

Then something clicked and I got it.

@malcolmgladwell pulls at your heartstrings with true stories, cases, that are controversial and breaks them down…

He discusses what WE can do to communicate better with people we do not know.

He reveals how some people “may not act the way WE think they should act”.

I will lightly touch on some of the topics in this book that I feel compelled to weigh in on so if you want to KNOW NOTHING about the book and read it yourself: please stop reading. (But begins you go, please enjoy this meme regarding “spoiler alerts” below 😂)

****Spoiler alert****

An intriguing example is when Gladwell explains the Amanda Knox case and what could have been done differently.

Malcolm clarifies that the whole ordeal Amanda was sucked into was because the Italian police didn’t think she “acted” the way she should be acting when her roommate was murdered.

Amanda didn’t “show emotion” or “communicate how she should.”

It’s seems like it should be such a clear concept, except we all know it is not. We all judge people on their behavior, their words, their actions. We judge because someone is not “behaving” the way we would.

On the opposite spectrum of innocence, Gladwell breaks down the Penn State/Sandusky scandal. (This is where I struggled the most with getting through this book.) Sandusky went years untouched and undetected because “he doesn’t act like a child molester” or “his victims don’t act like they were abused”. Sandusky was adored by all. Sandusky was a god on that campus.

Gladwell brings up many other controversial and historical topics such as Hitler, Sylvia Plath, and Gingis Khan.

Therefore, Gladwell solidifies his point that: The human race overall, sucks at talking with strangers.

Transparency is the idea that people’s behavior and demeanor—the way they represent themselves on the outside—provides an authentic and reliable window into the way they feel on the inside.

Malcolm Gladwell: Talking to Strangers
Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know about the People We Don’t Know https://www.amazon.com/dp/0316478520/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_i_9eWNEbRW7CFK5

Here’s the Southside Blasphemy:


But what does mean? What does “responsibly” mean? Is it like that vague moderation bullshit?

Gladwell painfully examines binge drinking and college sexual assaults. He breaks down the culture of socially-acceptable-yet-dangerous-binge-drinking and how this scientifically affects the human brain.

Gladwell goes into detail about black outs; the lack of communication between people while intoxicated and how so many assumptions are made. He brings to light how serious incidents are minimized and the misconception of society’s view of alcohol abuse.

Gladwell deliberates how men are called weak and berated if they don’t keep drinking, slam shots or chug beer bongs. He states how women are glorified if they can “drink a guy under the table” and how women are judged by “how cool they are” based on how much alcohol she can consume.

Then he dissertates the differences between men and women’s genetic make-up, how they metabolize alcohol differently and what happens biologically to the body and mind.


I listened to this chapter with with different ears. As a parent, you have no choice but to imagine your kids in one of these situations.

I never considered teaching my daughter “how” to drink (not sure I am qualified either 😜maybe I need another adult to do that for me;). I never thought of teaching my son exactly how to “be respectful of women”, knowing how to ask for permission and when no means no.

However, if you are on the fence, here’s some tasty vodka to assist you loosen up to say YES! (Mixed messages)🤨

I just assumed that my kids would make good decisions based on how we raised them. However, Gladwell discusses how alcohol, and the impact of society & social media erases all of that.

Example: “Don’t do what I do. Do what I tell ya.” Didn’t even fly with me in the 70’s/80’s.

The impact alcohol has on sexual assault:

This part in the audiobook was exceptionally painful; listening to a real court case of a sexual assault between two freshman at a college campus. Listening to testimony of a 19 year old MALE who “assumed” the girl he making out with was “okay with everything” because “she didn’t say anything.”

In reality, she was in a black out; unconscious.

In the testimony, the 19 yo make speculates what happens; then when asked directly, he admits he truly doesn’t remember the situation either.

Yet here he is, in court after making some bad decisions he doesn’t remember while intoxicated as a freshman in college: facing a jail sentence, expulsion, felony charges and a 15-year listing on the sex offender registry.

I couldn’t help but have empathy for the female but also for the guy; he was just a kid who is 5 years older than my own son. He was clueless, naive, and he ASS-umed. I could actually see myself and our friends laughing about a situation like this – (hooking up with someone in a black out-where neither party remember or know each other’s names) in college or even last year. However, when it is your child, it is a whole different deal.

…This chapter lead to one of many future discussions with my kids about alcohol use and how we all, as parents, have to educate our kids on safe drinking. I can say I “don’t want my kids using alcohol” however I know they will. So atleast as parents, we need to specifically educate them exactly how to “drink responsibly.” Brevity is key.

“Drink responsibly” is the message that is repeated, but what does that mean? I had to figure that out for myself and it took 30 years! I still drink too fast.

Therefore, if we know this, we need to offer our kids some guidance on HOW to drink responsibly.

However there are so many societal mixed messages. The ambivalence is similar to Frank the tanks “I have a lot to do tomorrow, but it tastes so good as it touches your lips.”

(Speaking of mixed messages, coming soon is a spin off of this article regarding the D.A.R.E. program…gasp… yes I said it)

In educating kids and teens, you cannot always say a specific number of drinks or beers because everyone metabolizes alcohol differently. We also have to educate them on the social impact their “being responsible” might result in. Transparent Translation: their friends and peers might give them a lot of shit for turning down shots or not slamming beer after beer. We have to educate them that how much they can drink has nothing to do with “coolness.”

Peer pressure is real, even after you have kids and are an “adult.”😂

Example: I was at a party last year and another parent offered me a drink. I turned it down because it was already 3am and I had to get up for my kids games at 9am. He smirked and replied “You used to be fun.” My inner—insecure-socially-awkward-teenager-self-emerged and immediately wanted to grab a bong like Frank the tank and “show him”! Adult peer pressure is real.😂

As a 40-something adult, I STILL had to remind myself he is kidding, he really doesn’t care if I drink or not and he honestly won’t even remember saying that to me.

We all like to belong. We all want to be fun (Fun Bobby) https://youtu.be/3nJ_l5qMrdw

No one wants to feel “not fun” (turns out fun Bobby is not so fun anymore) https://youtu.be/Y9qR3y_oLXM

However, we all need to have these uncomfortable feelings and transparent conversations. 2020 Kids are fucking smart.

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