‘It’s not a big deal. No reason to freak out!’ I tell myself while this person I barely know is walking towards me. Ignoring me after we both recognized each other notably on the hallway would be rude, I guess. It’s small talk time!
Talking for the sake of talking, no goals involved. When you are the type of person that feels forced to engage in small talk, it naturally turns out to be a disaster. A conglomeration of weird, dishonest sounding questions. Or one wants to ask five questions in one run and morphs their first syllables into one, the result being an animalistic sound. Eloquence in its purest form.
People are divided on small talk. Some love it, some hate it (me). Some are natural talents, being able to make themselves and others feel good while talking (not me). A common strategy is to circumvent awkwardness by constantly complimenting everything surrounding you. An abundance of over-positivity. “Your dress is nice, is it new? – You were with your family? That’s always nice!” Obviously, you look like always and everyone knows that being with the family is often not “always nice”. Their sound is too cheerful to be honest, the word nice is too vague to even count as a standpoint.
Speaking of superficiality, just pay attention to the words used in small talk: Fine and nice are the top-scorers. What is this even supposed to mean? These words are not descriptive at all, not giving you any substantial information about the person and their experience that you were literally asking for before and in which you are actually not really interested since you only have about three minutes. You talk about nonsense. What you do not talk about is money, politics, sex, drugs, philosophy or religion. Too controversial to be light-hearted. Exactly all the interesting stuff. Small-talk advocates say that you are simply supposed to feel good about yourself and to not overthink it (exactly what I am doing now). But the questions remain: Why start a conversation where you do not want to know or say anything of value while feeling constantly awkward? Because to say nothing is socially unacceptable or boring? Is the act of talking alone for some already an enjoyable activity?
‘How are you?’ asks the random person that reached me from the other side of the hallway, ending my mental rant.