Small Talk vs. Silence

Full disclosure: I don’t know who coined the phrase: “awkward silence” but I know he never shuts d’fuck up. I’ve got some ill shit to drop on y’all. Ready?… Silence can’t be awkward. Silence is the goal of silence; YOU are making it awkward. Small talk is the product of your own nervous energy and self-consciousness. It’s not that you’re a bad person if you initiate small talk, just that you’re a little annoying sometimes. And it’s not all your fault; the very nature of society suggests that because we can interact we should – that the sharing of ideas is always a positive. I’m here to tell you: nope.

Let me step back to define the terms here. By “small talk” I’m excluding means to an end like networking or trying to get a love interest to notice you. I’m talking about riding in an elevator, waiting in line at the coffee place, trying to use the same soda fountain – mindless interaction. And by “silence” I don’t mean the world around you stops moving – don’t be dumb – I mean the silence of your stupid mouth. We clear? Ok, proceed.

I guess my main point is: why? Why are we talking right now? Why did I need to know that? Why do you need to know that? And, finally: why are you starting something we’ll never finish? I hope to never see you again as long as I live. Yes, the weather is doing what the weather does. Yes, it’s “hump day” or “Friday eve” or Friday or Monday or whateverthefuck day it is – I know how to use a calendar. I’m sure you’re an interesting and complicated person except that I’m not sure of that at all and I don’t care to be. I hope you are because to world needs more of you, just not me and not right now. If fate throws us back together some time in the future, fine; maybe we can have an “oh, hello again” conversation – there may be some substance to that. But, for now, can’t we just exist in the same space for a minute? You be you and I’ll be me and we’ll leave “us” to the sands of time.

Look, I’m an introvert. That’s my journey. I tried to be my version of extroverted one time. Didn’t go well.

Quick story: Many years ago I asked a girl who, at the time, was out-of-my-league attractive (“at the time” implying that I’ve closed the gap not that she’s fallen off) on a date and to my surprise she said yes. During my pregame mental preparation, I told myself “Don’t fuck this up by being yourself. A classy dame like this craves bravado.” So, we meet at a place, sit down, order drinks and Extrovert Me lays on the charm. First line, right out of the box: “So… tell me your story. Go!” Her expression is forever singed into my brain by the flames of the conversation I set tragically ablaze during the first minute of our date. 45 minutes of chewing and forced pleasantries followed before the meeting mercifully ended with a friendly goodbye (forever) hug. Win!

Granted, sitting there not saying anything like some kind of weirdo would’ve also made her go back to her friends with horror stories of how bad the date was but at least I would’ve been genuine in my failure and our chances at love would have died, honorably, in a train wreck instead of me savagely murdering them.

Besides, silence is beautiful. Even as I write this, I need not speak a word of it to effectively communicate. Looking outside of my library window I see sun-kissed branches of trees made lifeless by the grasp of winter chill, reanimated by the chimed breeze. The voiceless creaks of this 100-year-old house and the rhythmic taps of the keys are ambient music but still not a voice. Even the jovial banter from a woman in the distance asks nothing of me, and is thus distilled to simple sounds. These are the times when art is created – when we’re unburdened by the asks and the tells – when the mind wanders and finds itself. And by art I don’t mean this… this is just a rant, but real art needs you to chill for a minute, please.

In fact… yeah… I’ll take it a step further. This need to fill up the quiet space with whatever comes to mind is preventing the human race from evolving into telepathic super-humans. We’re already linked; you feel it when someone does something dumb in front of a crowd of people and everyone side-eyes each other as if to say “check this guy out.” Then someone leans over and actually whispers to you “check this guy out” – Yeah, dude we know. We all know! We were having a Professor X moment and you ruined it. The silent tension that compelled that guy to voice what everyone was already thinking was the brain discovering “oh shit, look what I can do” but instead of letting those brain muscles develop into full-fledged telepathic communication, Lord Chatterly breaks the link for everyone. And that is why I’m not typing this with my mind right now. Thanks.

Humans just crave that interaction and acknowledgement. It’s the reason so many people tell me that I’m “so easy to talk to.” It’s not because I have the “gift of gab” (kill yourself for inventing that phrase), it’s because I have absolutely nothing to say to you and you never shut up.

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