“They” tell you not to make eye-contact with people in New York and for heaven’s sake, don’t speak to people in the city or on mass transit. I say ‘bullshit!’ Don’t talk to the visibly deranged or those who obviously don’t want to be bothered. Otherwise, go for it. Who knows what interesting conversations and experiences you might be missing, sitting in your insular fear-cloud.
Here’s a picture which perfectly illustrates my point:
If I hadn’t engaged him in conversation I could have said “I saw an interesting bike messenger on the train.”
Since I did, I had the pleasure of chatting with him for a bit and when I asked if I could take his picture, he struck this great pose. Just as you’d suspect from the photo, he was a very colorful and interesting character; one I never would have met if I’d listened to “them” and their “conventional wisdom”.