People Still Don't Talk About Real Stuff

I don’t like small talk. I don’t take pleasure in chatting about the weather, news, sports, the condos they’re building down the street and other miscellaneous topics. 

I make small talk all the time but I find as I get older, it’s becoming more and more mindless fluff. As a mom, this realization has magnified since my attention span and patience for bullshit is always running low.  

My husband and I recently started watching “Mad Men” and during one of the first few episodes, Don Draper and his wife, Betty, are having drinks with his boss and his wife. They were discussing how Don’s boss had a nanny and he grew up fine. Then Don's boss asks if he ever had a nanny and he avoids the question and jokingly states that it would “ruin the first half of [his] novel.”

I started thinking about how Don reacted and how this show was based in the 1960s. It is now 2018 and whenever I’m at a social outing, I still do the same thing. I don’t talk about those personal details and others don’t either. Why?

I’m an introvert and so it takes energy for me to be around new people and to make conversation. It’s not like I’m depleted after the interactions; I just wish the conversation would go straight to the real stuff.

I want to get to know people, to have meaningful interactions, to understand the human experience through their eyes. I want to hear their life stories and their history of how they came to be. I want to know where they came from and where they want to go. I want to know the decisions they’ve made, why they made them, whether it worked out in the end and what decisions they are contemplating now. 

I want to know why they got into their field of work and whether they love or hate their job. I want to know how they grew up. Did they have a nanny? Did they go to daycare? How do they think it affected how they are as an adult? I want to know how they were as a kid and how or if they've changed. I want to know why they live where they live and if they could live anywhere else, where would that be. I want to know people’s bucket lists, their past successes and failures and what they learned from them.

The thing about the Internet is that there are thousands of people who blog about these topics every single day. People (myself included) aren’t afraid of writing their deepest, most personal thoughts and feelings and publishing them to the world. People take pictures in bed and post them on Instagram. People put pictures of their children playing in their living room on Facebook. People put up vlogs on YouTube and show how clean/messy their homes are. I can find out so much about another person without ever meeting them once. I can spend a whole day on my phone as a spectator, stalking other peoples’ lives, viewing what they want to put out for others to see. 

However, when I meet someone new in person, we both freeze and stay in our safe zones. I want to talk about my blog but I hesitate because I’m not sure how I would come across. Self-centred? Weird? Self-promoting? Shameless? Socially awkward? How do I bring it up?

I want to ask them all those questions I mentioned above but I don’t want to interrogate them since they barely know me. Who am I? An interviewer? So I bring up safe topics like if they’ve tried this restaurant before or how the weather’s been acting crazy lately or how my daughter is super into grapes.

I’ll often try to find an opening during the conversation to bring something personal up but then most of the time I just let the discussion settle to its usual places. The chat ends cordially and on neutral terms with a smile and a polite goodbye.
Imagine a conversation with me; how would they react if mid-sentence I just say, “So I’m a blogger and I don’t care about your thoughts on the newest phone or car or couch or thimble. What I want to know is your story, who you are and what your hopes and dreams are. I don't mind going first.”

My word for 2018 is Mindfulness. I am going to live my life more mindfully...less mindless chatter and more mindful conversations, building new connections, cultivating close relationships and rekindling the old ones.

So Readers, have you thought about your word for 2018? Do you enjoy small talk or deep conversations? How have you tried to sway the conversations to your preference?

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