Monday, February 24, 2014

New People vs Old People (and the science of small talk)

People are always talking about how they like to meet new people. And they always say it like it's something they really like about themselves. Like, 'Oh, I just luuuuuurv meeting new people. It keeps things interesting' and 'I get a rush out of meeting and making friends with new people.' This bothers me. It's okay to like meeting people and all that, but why this over emphasis on NEW people? I mean, what about the old people? Now, I'm not against new friendships at all and I agree that newness is always exciting. But for me, the rush is in discovering new layers in people I thought I had completely figured out. You know? That moment when someone you've known for years, turns around and says or does something so out of character, that it makes you dig deeper. And then, upon digging, you find this whole story attached to this trait that's so familiar to you, and yet it's so different from the story you told yourself. It's like every person in your life comes with an infinite number of Easter eggs that are revealed to you from time to time if you won't stop looking. How cool is that. So yeah, for once in my life, I'd like to see a social media profile that reads 'I like hanging out with people I already know.' 

But then again, I'm on the other extreme of this situation. I'm so supremely happy with the alarmingly few people in my life, that I need to be pushed, bribed or blackmailed into putting myself in a situation that would involve small talk with new people. I'm like the fox in that episode of Full House where Jesse and Joey go into the forest to film the 'fast fox' for a Fast Fox Fax commercial (heh). And they sit there all night making vague noises, trying to coax the fox out of its hole, but it refuses to surface. And after a whole night of no-show, they start singing Happy Trails in their desperation and the fox finally comes out. Yeah, it takes a lot of effort and most people pack up and leave. 

But see, this is not because I'm snooty. It's because I really don't get the science of small talk. And it’s a science, mind you. An exclusive science that everyone but me seems to be in on. I've tried and I don't get it. Everything about it makes me anxious. Like, when people you've just met, look you squarely in the eye and say "Let's keep in touch." See, now everyone agrees that this is just plain, old fashioned manners, but I just don't get it. Because for me, keeping in touch is an entirely spontaneous process that I give no thought to. I meet you at some vague party, we talk for sometime, we do okay, we leave. Then we randomly bump into each other again, talk some more, find that we get along good. Then we end up working together on something and this time, we really hit it off and suddenly, tada! We’re friends.
SO. I get very nervous when people just DECLARE it like that – Let’s keep in touch. Because then, it becomes a plan. And when something is a plan, my brain goes off into OCD mode. I need to know everything about the plan so I can decide if I’m on board with it. So I want to ask this unsuspecting, friendly new person I’ve just met, a few questions about this PLAN. Like, how are we going to do this? Are you going to  call me or am I supposed to call you? If I don’t call, will you think I’m ignoring you? Also, what will we talk about when we’re keeping in touch? So many questions.

Of course, I refrain. It is never OKAY to unleash the crazies on someone you’ve just met. You should wait at least 3-6 months and see if they’ll pass the test. This is why old friends rock. Because they’ve seen you go batshit  and for some unfathomable reason, they’ve decided to stick with you. And since their expectations are so low, it can only go uphill from here, see? This is just logic.

Some people argue that you never know what to expect around new people and the whole unpredictability of it all is what they find so exciting. And then they'll annoy you with that overused sentence "because I'm a very adventurous person." I don't get it. If adventure is what you want, why not jump off a plane with a half-broken parachute? That way, you might even make it to the front page. But using new friendships as some sort of bungee jumping exercise? That's just uncool, dude. 

But they aren't the worst offenders. It's the ones who are out there "networking." I think networking is perfectly legit as long as you make your intentions known. Then it becomes a purely professional exercise for both individuals. But meeting people, pretending to be their friend, regularly keeping in touch with them and then referring to them as a "good contact" behind their backs? I will never get that. 

But that's all perfectly OKAY. As long as you're adventurous and like to meet new people. 


  1. It's like every person in your life comes with an infinite number of Easter eggs that are revealed to you from time to time if you won't stop looking. How cool is that.
    Real cool Judy. Exciting!

  2. I don't get the science of small talk either! I am always the one being asked "So, what else is new?" and my answer is a stoned silence, twiddling thumbs and in general giving the cricket its space to do its thing.

  3. so so true.. I so suck at small talk and I have a problem with super intrusion which is so cool today

  4. omg!! this is so true.. i never thought anyone else could get an OCD over an alleged plan!! i always end up asking an insane number of questions (still have to work on controlling the craziness in front of the new folks) on he workings of the plan!!!
    I wish someone could just add a silent "No We Wont!" phrase to the "we should catch up sometime" , .. life would just be so much easier! **sigh**


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