Follow Us Facebook Fan Page Twitter Page Full RSS Feed ......
At the age of ten life seems simple, it's all about running jumping and climbing trees. By eighteen you have discovered the opposite sex, alcohol and nightclubs. By twenty five you are your own person, confident and full of life. Suddenly you hit thirty. You find yourself questioning your choices from the years that have past, feeling slightly left on the shelf, wondering where your life is heading, juggling family and friends and faced with ever aging parents. You are not alone, welcome to 30 years and countinga sideways look at life in your thirties.

The big problem with small talk

So it has been another one of those periods where I haven’t posted anything for a while. Sorry about that but I am back now. In part this has been because I have been busy doing other stuff but mainly it is down to the fact that I haven’t had a lot to say. Sure I could probably write a daily post about some random crap if I wanted to but I don’t. When I commit to writing something chances are it has been brewing around in my brain for a few days at least and as such there is some thought behind it. Why do I bother? Well put simply I hate small talk and here are the reasons why.

One of the things people often mistakenly think upon meeting me for the first few times is that I don’t say a lot. In some respects this is true. Certainly I do choose my words carefully and I am a big believer in listening first before diving straight in. You can after all learn a lot about a person from what they say. The truth however is I really don’t like to make small talk. You know the kind of thing I mean. Idle chitchat or as Wikipedia puts it “informal discourse not covering any functional topics of conversation.”

If we are honest about it most small talk is just crap. Useless information about topics which no one actually cares about usually made to just fill our desire to avoid uncomfortable silences or out of a sense of politeness. Does anyone care if your next door neighbour bought a new hat, if your postman is delivering later than usual or if you cut your grass on Sunday? No of course not. None of us are up late due to sleepless nights pondering about whether or not so or so bought some yogurts on special at the local supermarket yesterday. I read the other day that we spend six months of our lives talking about the weather. The weather! I mean for crying out loud have we really got nothing better to say to each other?

Small talk to me is pointless. Okay sure it can act as an icebreaker but what does it actually tell us about the other person? Nothing of value. You might learn that their local doctors is closed on a Wednesday or that they saw a big crow in their back garden yesterday afternoon while drinking tea in the kitchen but really who gives a shit? They know they are talking crap and you know that you are listening to crap. Why then do we do it is the obvious question to ask. We get to spend so little time with people. Some people come into our lives and through one reason or another are gone long before we want them to be. Our chance to say how we feel, tell them what we think, ask them the questions we want answered and find out who they really are is so fleeting when you think about it. Why then do we fill this precious time up with mind numbing crap?

The logical answer is because it is safe. Talking about things like the weather is never likely to offend someone. Likewise we also don’t have to give away anything of ourselves in the exchange which makes the whole thing seem comfortable. For example a ten minutes conversation about how bad the traffic was this morning is safe but will tell you nothing of value about the other person you are having it with. The two of you might as well just stand in silence. Whereas  a ten minute conversation about your their view of the death penalty will tell you a lot about the other person but in exchange you have to give something of yourself away to them in return. There is of course the danger of causing offence but personally I take the view that we are all entitled to our own opinions and we should have respect for each other’s point of view whether we agree or disagree. Besides if I am talking to someone and they can’t show respect for my views then chances are I don’t want to be talking to them in the first place.

There is of course an elephant in the room which should be addressed. Namely the difference between men women when it comes to small talk or chitchat. In my experience women will engage in small talk more often and for longer periods then men. Men like to deal in facts while women like to deal in situations. For example if a friend is having a problem at work with a co-worker spreading rumours about then it is usually the case that a man will offer a solution or enquire what they plan to do about it while a woman will ask how they feel about. Now of course before someone jumps on the you sexist pig bandwagon I should point out that this is just a generalisation. However if you keep quiet and listen to a group of men talking compared to women then you will notice it for yourself. 

There is an argument that it is socially more acceptable for women to talk about their feelings then men and this does hold some water with me but I subscribe more to the theory that are brains are wired differently due to evolution. Way back in our hunter gatherer past men were the hunters and women were the gatherers. For the men this meant standing around in silence waiting for an animal to come past while only exchanging important information such as potential dangers or the location of prey. Women meanwhile were out collecting fruit and vegetables in relative safety. For them the constant chatter boosted teamwork and kept moral up during what was a fairly boring task. At the end of the day I am not an evolutional psychologist but as a scientist this idea makes sense to me.

Now I am not saying at your friend’s wedding as you sit down to diner at a table full of strangers you turn to his Aunt and say “so what is your view on abortion?” but what I am saying is that the people we surround ourselves in life with are there for a reason. Our time with them is all too fleeting and we never know just how much of it we are lucky to share with them. Do you really want to spend it talking about the price of loo rolls or would you rather take a risk and show your true colours to them in return for getting to know them as they really are?

Most popular posts this month

Most popular posts of all time

Want to write for us?

Do you like our site? Have you got something to say? If you are approaching or in your thirties and would like to write a piece for us then we would love to here from you.