Small Talk: The Lost Art

Hi everyone, welcome to Thoughts with Lizzie! This is something I really noticed in the past week: small talk is a dying art. I was taking these classes at the university for exam prep and I had 8 of them in total. These aren’t short things, but there are breaks through out them to talk and everything. About 60 kids were with me in this lecture hall and I didn’t know a single one of them. I am an incredibly social person by nature, I love to talk to people. I’m also incredibly shy naturally, so major conflicting interests there but most of the time social wins out. The way I think about is that random stranger could be a really cool person and maybe we could end up being really good friends. Normally not the case but every friendship I have ever had starts with “hi” and small talk so you never know. Even on those days when I am feeling incredibly anti-social, I need to focus and I don’t want to talk to anyone, if I sit down next to or by anyone, strangers included, I will always at least say hi. I actually think its incredibly rude not to. And if they start making small talk I’m not going to shut them down, I have no reason to. Even if i’m not in a talking mood the class or whatever is probably starting in 5 minutes, I’m not doing anything of course I will chat with this random person. I was taught that it was common courtesy. Apparently I am one of the few people left who actually thinks so.

In these 8 days I was at these classes these are the three types of people I ended up next to:

The  “I can’t hold a conversation with a rock”

There were more of these people then anyone else. I’d sit down next to someone who was alone (becasue I’m way to awkward and shy to sit with a group of people who all know each other and just be awkwardly there) and I’d start making small talk. A conversation like this would follow:

“Hi! I’m Lizzie. May I join you?”

“Sure”

“What’s your name?”

“(blank)”

“Nice to meet you? How are you doing?”

“I’m good. You?”

“Good thanks. (One of the following questions on my part: “Is this your only exam, what other ones do you have? Do you do anything fun last night? What are you doing this summer? Do you know what you are doing next year? etc.)”

“(Short, nondescript answer)”

“(Me answering my own question. ie: “I’m heading to Greece this summer with my family. It’s a graduation present, for my older brother we went to Maui.)”

“Cool.”

I HATE COOL! Unless you the person the follows it with a question of their own it kills the conversation. I have no where to go after that so then I shut up and we sit in silence for the next 5 minutes waiting for the lecture to start. The person then always got out their phone and would text someone or scroll through Facebook. I sorry, are you so technology dependent you can’t hold a conversation with a physical human being anymore? The answer is yes, I guess. Or maybe I just come across as a really scary individual and they are calling for help. I honestly wonder how these people have friends simply becasue, in my experience, you have to speak to someone in person before you are friends and exchange numbers.

The “I have a girlfriend”

This was just straight up rude. I sat down next to a guy and said “Hi, I’m Lizzie. How are you?” as I do to everyone and he turns to me and says “I have a girlfriend.” Great. Good for you. But I asked you how you were, not to strip for me! It was so presumptuous. It’s sad that “hi” is now considered flirtatious.

The “Hey I’m a functioning human and will chat with you”

In however many people I ended up sitting next to I only met one girl who would actually hold a conversation with me. She was super sweet, we had a lot in common and I will never see her again but it was nice chatting to her. We wouldn’t disrupt each other while the professor was talking but during the breaks we got, we’d chat about random things.

I said earlier, I am shy, I understand being nervous talking to a stranger. It takes a lot for me to sit down next to a stranger and try and talk to them and though I’m pretty good with it now, but that’s becasue I have been forcing myself to do so for years. And getting shut down constantly makes me really self conscious and ask myself why on earth I keep doing this. What it boils down to is simply manners, I keep doing it because I feel rude and mean if I don’t and then everyone once an awhile I meet someone like that awesome girl.  Or am I just absolutely insane and really crossing a line with these people?

Let me know your thoughts so maybe I feel less crazy, bye darlings!

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