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Enjoy The Silence: Small Talk is DEAD

Updated: Nov 26, 2020

The art of meaningless chat is not only dying, it is dead, says our garrulous resident Irish, Philip Bourke.

Small talk noun “polite conversation about unimportant or uncontroversial matters, especially as engaged in on social occasions”

Small talk is dead. When was the last time you engaged in small talk? In your apartment block with your neighbours, walking your dog and you encounter another dog person, in a bar after a few drinks. Other than these situations it’s quite difficult to initiate small talk without coming across as a weirdo. But who’s to blame?

The millennials, a change in society, or you? Gone are the days when you could talk to somebody who's sat next to you on a flight, bus or train journey. I get it some people want to be left alone and I reckon headphones are a good indicator of that but anyone without should be fair game for a bit of chit chat.

I recently got in trouble on the tram; two women were talking about a TV series, glorifying it, a five out of five, not a rotten tomato in sight, I bit my lip but couldn’t hold back, I told them what I thought about the TV show and to say the least it didn’t go down well. Two thirty-something women glared at me with astonishment, then my girlfriend chirped in with “Do you know them?“. "No I don’t, but that is a terrible show". (shadow hunters for those interested 0/5) (Editor's note: Why are you watching terrible shows? Does your girlfriend control the remote?)

I invented a Spanglish word for when you get the same commuter tram at more or less the same time every day and you see the same people, tramigos. You know who I’m talking about. You recognize that person, you see them everyday, maybe you spend more time together each week on that tram or bus ride than people who are your friends, but we don’t speak to each other because at the moment it is not socially acceptable to talk to a “stranger” on public transport. Everybody with heads buried in phones or kindles, I don’t use either on public transport, I look up, waiting to catch an eye, ready to converse.

But that’s me and maybe I’m stuck in “the good old days”, but I’m certain with the advancements in technology in the next ten to twenty years’ I’m sure human interaction and social banter will be at a premium. Let's not lose the art of social interaction, I can get the weather report from a robot but it can't tell me their next door neighbour is having an affair!

Small talk advice, keep it brief. Like a short boxer, in and out, work the body:

1. Weather “ Winter is coming “

2. Entertainment “ Do you watch game of thrones?“

3. Sports “Did you watch the Cleganebowl? “

4. Family “How's your relationship with your sister?”

5. Travel “Have you ever been to Tarth?”

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