This one is kinda bleak, but it’s also true. I’ll admit that the title is a little over the top, but hear me out: People mostly talk to throw their own voice into the mix. Maybe they just love the sound of it, maybe they have something important to tell (according to themselves), maybe something really funny happened or maybe they just need to get something off their chest. Either way, they aren’t doing for your benefit; they’re doing it for their own.
We all know the old adage, and like many, I’ve grown sick and tired of having conversations where people just talk to hear their own voice. Couldn’t we rather enjoy the silence for once, huh? On certain days, this gets so bad that I just decide to keep my mouth shut. And people don’t really seem to notice it, because they’re all busy talking about their own things. But then suddenly someone sees me, and feel the need to tell me that I’ve been quiet lately. ‘Well, you know what? It sounds like you people pretty much got this covered. I’ll be over here with my thoughts . . . they ones you just interrupted to tell me that I’m being quiet.’ I’ll admit once again that I’m being bit of a negative Nelly here. People talk to one another (or past one another); it’s how we pass the time. If the conversations are boring, I can either try to contribute or I can leave. Sometimes, I kinda feel like the angsty teenager that wants to get invited to the party just so he can decline the invitation. But there is more to this. I can endure boring small-talk as well as the next person, but when people make the conversation about me when I’m not participating, I get pissy! And you wouldn’t find me nearly as complacent and non-threatening when I’m pissy! (Working on a punchline for a superhero . . . how’s that one?) I’ll try to explain:
I’ve been avoiding this topic for almost a year now, without really knowing why. Maybe it’s because I feel sorry for these people, or maybe it’s because it used to be my job and I feel responsible somehow. It could even be because it’s too cheap of a laugh; the kind you get when you share stories at a party or on twitter. (Which I have, on several occasions) Still, I’ve had some time to think about it, so I’ll try to mold this into something a bit deeper than just laughing at stupid people and their ridiculous understanding of the world.
For all intents and purposes, this is not just a rant regarding stupid people; this is a note of worry and of concern.
I used to work at a university college, where I spent most of my time at the student service desk. (I guess you could call it an information desk, but that’s only a small part of the job). This particular institution housed health and social education, meaning it lectured the physical and occupational therapists, social workers, child service workers and nurses of tomorrow. As some of you no doubt have experienced, an information desk attract a whole slew of stupid questions, with the added bonus of some very confused people. I realize that this is somewhat the point of an information desk, and while I am quite familiar with the phrase there’s no such thing as a stupid question, I find it to be extremely untrue. Let’s look at a few of them, and then you’ll see what I mean.