“Hey, what’s up?”
“Not much, how are you?”
“Haha, I’m doing okay. Talk to you later”
If there is one thing that I despise in the world and would want to see changed, it would be to get rid of small talk.
To generalize, small talk is that conversation you have with strangers when you feel like you should be saying something, but at the same time don’t really want to talk. While the most stereotypical example would be just talking about the weather, I believe that for our generation, talking about school is a lot more like it. Not because of the content of the conversation, but because of the mentality that we bring into the conversation.
Small talk is not defined by the content that you talk about, but the attitude that you bring in when you want to talk. It depends on how you view the conversation and whether or not if you feel that you will get something out of it. If you feel that the current meteorological patterns are consistent with a wide shift that has been occurring over the past two decades and is just bursting to share that tidbit with the world, be my guest! It isn’t what you say that is impactful; it is very often how you say it.
But one thing that I have noticed is that, almost universally, everybody seems to despise small talk. There isn’t anything of value that can be gained for it, while it also seems to bore everyone around. Often, people seem to strike up these conversations in the futile hope that the other person is going to say something funny, or interesting, or witty, and yet they can’t bring themselves to do that!
I can certainly sympathize with that viewpoint. As a self-identified introvert, in the sense that interacting with others drains my energy, I can feel how it is risky to ask spontaneous questions. Bringing out the “heavy topics” out of nowhere tends to get you labeled as a dreamer and a freak, and almost no one wants that label. We are caught up by how others perceive us. We want to feel connected.
One of the most key questions that I’ve found to help me battle small talk is to ask yourself: What do you really want to do when you’re talking to someone? What are you actually interested in? In other words, why do you like to talk anyways? After a bit of introspection, I realized that, generally speaking, people and things are pretty boring. I don’t like lots of gossip, and just talking about the day’s events is remarkably dull. Instead, it’s the ideas of others that fascinate me. Why do you believe what you believe? How did you come to *that* conclusion?
Every one of us is so much like everyone else. With 7 billion people in the world and the internet bringing us all so close together, it’s difficult to put on an act to seem truly unique online. But here’s the kicker: you don’t have to. Already, through our own experiences, we know more about ourselves than any other person in the world. We are fully self-empowered, and a complete master of our own thoughts.
Another message that helped me was realizing that, yes; we are all so similar, in our problems as well as in our struggles. I’m not just talking to you, the reader right now, but you, the entire web. Yes, it is scary and is taking a risk to start up possibly awkward conversations. But have you considered that the other person is just as uncomfortable? I contemplated my own reaction to others taking risks: do I really laugh at others, or do I just realize that they are human beings too and sometimes mess up, but still love them all the same?
All of this small talk deal has been exacerbated by the internet and instant messaging. Instead of physically see a friend ask you a tough question, you get some lights making up symbols show up on your screen. Which you can just choose and ignore! Virtual communication has certainly bred a group of people who are more apathetic and more willing to ignore others.
But personally, I prefer the internet. Being able to type out my opinions allows me to be more coherent about what I think. I’m able to use language more effectively and think about my own thinking too!
There’s a lot that we can do to make our generation grow and prosper. We live in an information society, a society where everyone can talk to anyone, all the time. It is perhaps one of the greatest powers a young person has in today’s life. So please, probe yourself a little bit deeper, get to be that awkward kid debating philosophy, or be more invested in talking. From small talks we can create a nation of BIG ideas.
Please leave some comments or tell me about what you would love to discuss on hours at end. I mean, this post *is* to get people to talk more… how about starting now!