Can't Think Of A Good Title

I noticed that some people in this group find small talk annoying because you're talking to people you don't know and/or care about. Small talk is annoying to me for the opposite reason.  I can understand the need to talk about basic things to strangers (what's your name, where are you from, etc.) simply for the sake of getting to know them better.  But I feel like once you know someone on a deeper level, the need for that goes away.  I'll give you the perfect example.

This morning, on my way to work, my stepdad came in, saw me with my work clothes on, and said, "I thought you were off today."  I didn't respond.  After having no response, he turned around and stomped out of the room, apparently offended that I didn't respond.  My mom was also in the room and seemed upset.  She then said, "He just asked you a question.  Why didn't you answer?"  I said, "He didn't ask me anything...he just said that he thought I was off today.  That's a statement, not a question."  She then replied, "If someone's voice goes up at the end of a sentence, that means they're saying it as a question."  (I actually remember specifically that his voice actually did NOT go up at the end of the sentence...he said it just like a declarative sentence.)  I responded, "He saw me with my work clothes on, so after that, he automatically realized that I in fact DID have to work today.  No explanation was needed."  Finally, before I left, she said, "He was just trying to make conversation with you."  The conversation ended at that, and a few moments later, I left.

Anyway, that's the kind of small talk that I hate.  I mean, what did he expect me to say in response?  "Congratulations on making that observation!  You get a gold star!"  It wasn't a question, and even if it was, it would be a dumb question because the fact that I was up and in my work clothes would have given away the answer.  My stepdad is bad about that kind of stuff though (small talk, that is).  Don't get me wrong...I love my stepdad.  He really is like a second father to me.  But when he sees me, he'll just say something like, "What do you say, bud?"  How do I answer a question like that?  What DO I say?  Ummm, "hi?"

I don't want to make this whole story a big rant on my stepdad though.  It's not just him, and it's not even just my family.  Almost everyone I know does it to some degree ("it" meaning small talk).  It has actually made some of my relationships suffer.  My ex-girlfriend used to do it sometimes too.  She would ask me how my day was.  While I appreciated the fact that she cared enough to ask how my day was, I would usually just give her a quick answer like, "It was okay.  Same old thing."  That was seldom enough though...she wanted details.  Seriously...I don't care who you are, but I don't want to have to retrace my steps, attempt to remember everything I did today, and repeat it back to you.  If the day was particularly exciting, I may, but in that case, I'll probably tell you without you having to ask.  I don't want to replay my boring day again in my head.  Isn't living it out once, in real life, enough?  Like I said, I appreciate the concern...I just don't like having to repeat my day all over again.

I feel like small talk is just a waste of words.  Why talk just for the sake of talking?  If you don't have anything useful or interesting to say, just don't say anything at all.  I don't understand why people think they just HAVE to talk.  If you're bored and can't think of anything interesting to talk about, go do something.  Play video games.  Watch a movie.  Clean the house.  Don't just ask me, "Hey, man, what's up?"  You'll get the same answer every time.  "The ceiling."

On the other hand, if you DO have something interesting to say, by all means, please do speak up.  I can discuss interesting topics all night long.  Start a conversation with me about behavioral neuroscience, music theory, the validity of Freudian theory, or anything remotely intriguing, and you can have me conversing for hours upon end.

But if all you have to say is, "What's going on, dude?" then I'll tell you what's going on.  You're wasting your vocal cords and my eardrums with meaningless sound pollution.

 
RopinTexan RopinTexan
22-25, M
1 Response Sep 13, 2012

I get where you're coming from, I really do. But humans suck at diving straight into these big things - we need these small openers to move on to the more important things. People are most of the time just trying to care for you (albeit in a mindless way). I've noticed that when I feel this way it's because I feel like the person isn't being genuine in their care and don't really want a genuine answer. With these people, I reconsider whether I truly want them in my life.