I have discovered that I don’t do well with small talk.
While I can carry on these obligatory pleasantries with the best of them, I can’t help but feel that it all seems very forced and formulaic. And if you know anything about me past my love of baseball and green vegetables, you know that I abhor doing things “just to do them” or because I feel I have to.
Superficiality is my karmic kryptonite.
If there isn’t a genuine motivation behind an action, my bullshit detector goes off and I lose interest. Warning signs may include me looking past your head, pretending to look busy at my computer, deep breathing (not in a creepy panting “What are you wearing?” phone call way though) and occasionally busting out in Trikonasana in an attempt to avoid my urge to shake you and scream, “What in the world do you want?”
This is Triangle pose, for those unable to pronounce Trikonasana in their head.
Don’t get me wrong.
If you are not a close friend of mine (this is not a small club) and are really interested in how my weekend was or how work is going, I would be delighted to briefly tell you about it with the understanding that you probably won’t remember anything I tell you by the next time that we talk.
Once this basic exchange is complete, please feel free to move on with your day. You are no longer obligated to engage in meaningless conversation with me about things you really have no interest in learning.
But if I’m feeling pressured politeness, I might then reciprocate with a brief inquiry myself, knowing full well that most of the time your motivation for asking a specific question is for the sole purpose of me asking you about that very topic.
“Hey Abby! Did you happen to go to the bar this weekend and get wicked twisted, waking up in a vintage Michael Bolton concert T-shirt with a new tattoo you don’t remember getting?”
“No, actually I didn’t.” (Insert dramatic pause as they wait for it….sigh.) “Did you?”
And there go five minutes of my life I will never get back.
This is not meant to sound harsh, but rather to point out the fact that a majority of time spent with people is full of superficial chit chat, small talk—things to fill a silence that supposedly speaks volumes about our inability to constantly communicate as a species.
While interaction is obviously necessary and something that I personally enjoy—at a genuine level—repeatedly having the same meaningless conversations with people tends to push me into concocting ideas on how I can telepathically repel bullets of bullshit like a pinball machine.
But I will always engage in the obligatory pleasantries required of me, as once in awhile people can surprise you—in a good way (not in a creepy panting “What are you wearing?” phone call way)—and I thrive on those fleeting moments of genuine connection.
I actually crave relationships and care about (most) people at a level bordering on oversensitivity at times, even if I sometimes end up disappointed. That’s how I roll, and I make no apologies for that—at least not out loud.
It’s just that I pick and choose my emotional investments.
And if we both know that it’s filler, why fill it?
This is not to deter people from talking to me or ever commenting—quite the opposite, in fact. If you can be unapologetically honest and not feed me what you think I want to hear—whether it’s while blogging, working or talking to me on the street—you might have just been elevated from superficial small talker to a member of that very small club mentioned above.
We have good talks about life, food, sports, other people — I promise it’s worth it.
But life is short and sometimes, silence is golden (and much preferable to a blaring bullshit detector.)