More than a pet peeve

You see this person every single work day. They greet you when you walk in. “hey.” you respond “hi.” they ask “how’s it going?” you reply “I’m good, you?” they say “I’m good” you say “good.” and that’s it. Every single day you see this person, and every single day, that’s all either of you say. Are they a friend? I mean you do converse with them daily, and it usually goes… good. You may in fact NOT be doing good, but you’d never tell them, because that’s not how this works. It’s small talk, and I’ve said before that it’s my biggest pet peeve, but I think it’s a bit more than that. I think it actively hurts potential friendships, and makes it harder to truly connect with others.

See, I can be okay with small talk, in the right circumstances, but when my friend texts me every single day with nothing of value to say, and not even wanting to check in on me, just wanting to go through the small talk circus, it feels like they’re not really interested in my friendship at all. Personally, I don’t want to have to talk to someone if there isn’t something of value being said. Now that doesn’t mean I only want to talk about big ideas or politics or the meaning of life or whatever. When I say “something of value” that could literally just be them sending me a meme and saying “this made me think of you” or me texting them out of the blue to have a 20 minute conversation about a new episode of our favourite show.

Now for most people, if they want to start a conversation about something, they’ll start it off with several small-talk messages back and forth before actually getting into it. “hey” “oh hey” “how’s it going?” “It’s going good” “that’s good” “how are you” “I’m good” “that’s good” “hey did you see the new episode of [insert show here]” Like… I just don’t understand why you can’t just immediately send that last one instead. You’re wasting both of our time by trying to establish whether I’m willing to talk to you right now, which I can guarantee, if that’s all the first few messages are going to be, I no longer want to talk to you. Even the much faster “sup” “not much, you?” “Not much,” while yes it’s faster, is the same thing again. It’s nothing. If you texted me out of the blue, it’s probably not because “not much” is up. And if you text me every single day with “not much” to say, I’m gonna start to assume that we don’t have much to talk about, and I’ll start ignoring you.

I can come off as cold or aloof to a lot of people as a result of this, because I just don’t participate in small talk, but I have also been told by several people that some of the conversations I have with them are the deepest they’ve ever had. I like to cut to the chase and I’ll send a message out of the blue after not speaking to you for 6 months, and just start a real conversation in the blink of an eye. When we were kids, it was so easy to make new friends, and you know why? Because we didn’t small talk. We just went up to someone and said “Hi I really like your backpack” and then you were friends. There was no “how’s it going today?” it was “what game are we going to play today?” or “what did your mom pack for lunch today?” I think we should start going back to the way we acted as kids. Start actually making friends and making active remarks about people, and actively asking about their needs, interests, and lives. It’s not harder to make friends as an adult, you’ve just forgotten how you used to do it.

Anyone else out there agree, or do I just sound crazy? Let me know.

~Donny