How to Talk to People Without Hurting Yourself

Last week I found myself trapped gleefully engaged in conversation on a topic I cared nothing about, and could contribute nothing to. This apparently caused no grief to the woman that was torturing my eardrums providing me with a pleasant new outlook on life…by any means necessary. However, as my short attention span (the tolerance of which I had clearly underestimated up to that point) began to waver, I decided to mentally pen a short list of steps that can help others survive such an ordeal, and in the long run possibly even save society…possibly.

How to Talk to People Without Hurting Yourself

Step 1:  Find Person

Step 2:  Ask a question that implies interest in person’s life/activities/relationships.

Step 3:  Remember to look alert and express concerned/amused facial expressions as the situation demands. Note: there is no real need to actually listen to what the person says since most people use the same tiresome set of topics/inquiries, which require minimal thought process to respond to. Besides, the immense level of boredom ensured by actually listening has high risks of suicidal outcomes. Proceed with caution.

Step 4:  Keep asking vague questions that can be applied to anything or anyone. For example, “How was your day?”, “How was the movie?”, “How cloudy will it be tomorrow in your opinion?”

Step 5:  Ignore all answers.

Step 6:  Hum song to yourself to avoid possible suicidal/homicidal thoughts.

Step 7:  In the circumstance that Steps 1 to 6 cannot be completed, properly dispose of person and start over. [Methods of disposal vary and are limited only to one’s imagination and duct tape availability. No purchase necessary].

Humanity, you’re welcome.

The Peril of Talking to People

WordPress does a pretty good job filtering out all the spam that ends up in my Comments tab.  Although, it’s not like its really hard to spot:

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The first one is an obvious ad (I know what you’re thinking, who can I tell?  Well, I’m psychic), but the others seem–at first glance–to be genuine responses.  Until, of course, you notice the awkward diction, the vague commentary, and the fact that the actual content of each one of these only relates to the posts they were left under in a broad generic, sense (as in, they could be easily placed under any post, with the same message, and work just as fine).

Since starting this blog, and being expose to the commentary of mindless spambots on a daily basis, I have come to realize that my everyday conversations don’t sound all that much different from any of the comments above.  Granted, my word choice is more lucid, and I don’t usually plug designer dresses as I’m talking (or, do I?), but the general vague responses are still just as empty and devoid of substance as those generated by these automatons.  As people talk to me about the mundane happenings of their day, I’m not listening, I’m just nodding in a neutral rhythm because that is the routine that I have learned from having people talk at me throughout life.  Moreover, I’m fairly certain that the other person in the conversation is following the same routine when it becomes my turn to take over the role of “talker” so that they can gather their thoughts for another round thereafter.  No, I don’t do this with everyone (just most of my co-workers, all of my acquaintances, and more family members than I want to admit).  There is a handful of people I really do talk to in the course of a conversation, by they are by far in the minority.

I also noticed the same thing happen when I watch the news.  The anchors serve no pertinent role on my local programming, they are just fillers to provide empty commentary so that the bullet points on the screen seem more personable to me (and strangely enough, it works).  This makes me wonder how many conversations in life I must have taken part in, where I contributed nothing of value whatsoever–just serving as a sounding board for the other person, because I felt like that was the proper thing to do.  Since I don’t have firsthand access to any other mind but my own, I can’t help but fall into the fallacy of generalizing my experience to everyone else.  Part of me hopes I’m wrong, and it is only a bizarre minority of us who feel this way; otherwise, how can we as a society be expected to communicate in a evermore globalizing world, when we don’t even know how to talk to one another, yet?