I Stink at Small Talk

I’m dressed to four 9’s in my spiffing, starched white tennis regalia…But I feel like a poser. Cause every time that tennis ball comes my way, I swat that thing like it’s a bat out of Halifax, sending that sucker back across the court with the vengeance of Pickett & Co.

This is how I feel when it comes to making small talk. I absolutely stink at it. My preferred game is watching other people conduct small talk. Sometime I feel like a societal leech. Sometimes I feel like a boring person. But as soon as someone asks me, “What’s new?” I think hmm, well I’m going to Europe in three weeks, then I say, “Nothing.”

I can talk about how to make Chinese egg tarts; I feel comfortable discuss the significance of the printing press; I can sit and talk about linguistics until the proverbial cows make their way to their proverbial home. But it takes me about two hours to settle into those conversations. Small talk? Sorry, that’s a game I just can’t play. I just end up sweating through my polo short and pulling a muscle while swinging my racket at that frightening green ball, as if it’s a live grenade and I’m porcelain teapot wearing white.

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Why I Don’t Like Likes

Suzy XYZ and ten other people like your status.”

We’ve all seen the notification, after hitting the globe with the red rectangle that tells us someone thought of us today. For me, finding out that that red flag only means someone “liked” something I wrote is only mildly satisfying. And then I realize that I’m the problem, I’m the ghost in the machine.

When I started regularly Facebooking a year ago (“No Facebook, ever!” I had always firmly held, but my resolutions melted when I found it was the only way of keeping up to speed with our swiftly tilting planet), it didn’t take me too long to realize that the majority of users don’t actually produce regular content. Perhaps I was just spoiled as an internet babe, cutting my teeth on the blogosphere as my first form of web discourse. When I joined Facebook, I knew that it wasn’t going to be greatly satisfying, but I joined anyway. Scanning the news feed, looking for actual information about my friends, I found that the more popular pastime is reposting news articles and memes.

I’m a high-content guy. I recently sent a writing partner my share of ideation on a piece of work we’re doing, and she responded, basically, “Nope. I can’t do this. To much information. Break it down.” She suggested crumbling the (very big) project into smaller chunks…the sizes she cited left me with a sense of impatient disappointment.

Perhaps Facebook isn’t the problem. And I’m willing to accept this as a major possibility, because I know I’m a major social anomaly. Maybe I’m the problem. Facebook isn’t a social catch-all; it’s tailored to a certain set of efficient people. So, while I may enjoy taking two minutes to craft a comment for someone’s post, others will just hit “like.” A binary love note will appear on my dashboard…like getting a signed Hallmark card from a long-lost friend.

This speaks to the infrastructure of the website, though. It is, in many ways, a depersonalized social machine. I suppose that, since the average Facebooker has approximately 500 friends, it needs to be depersonalized for it to work at all. If each of those 500 friends posted regular content daily, one would never get through one’s timeline. And if you commented on the daily statuses of 500 people, it would take an eternity to catch up. Hence, it is much quicker just to hit the thumbs-up button. Liking and sharing, rather than leaving text, is a pragmatic shift in interactions, designed to cope with how fast users must consume “content” in order to get up to speed.

If the majority of Facebook users spent more time crafting content and responding thoughtfully to statuses, we would spend a lot more time on Facebook. As a result, people would have to start rethinking how many people with whom we are willing to keep in touch. 500 would become 50, and perhaps 50 would even become 5.

However, once again I realize most of this is me. Not everyone likes high-volume text–Some people would rather eat candy than cake. Ultimately, Facebook is an exercise in mass-production, and as with all manufacturing operations, processes must be streamlined and optimized to work efficiently.

Kachunk. Kachunk. Whirr.

Rusty Me

Me squeaky right now. Me not working like me should. Me rusty.

Sigh. I’m following one of those cardinal writers’ rules, and I’m sharing my struggles publicly. Hopefully it will work. Hopefully it will do something. Hopefully, this rust will squeak its way right off of me and I can move on with life!!!! 😡

Okay, so here we go.

I am rusty. I don’t know what exactly is wrong with me, but I just can’t seem to get going on a story.

I revisit the same themes…a will, a letter, a lonely MC, a best friend…My own collection of personal clichés. Maybe that’s one of my problems.

When I write, it comes up feeling dry and soulless. It feels crunchy like a stale cracker…no, not crunchy…It feels empty. Like a cloudy clunker of a tupperware box. With an old, dry orange peel inside, and a fly buzzing around near-noiselessly.

Maybe I’ve just gotten out of the habit too much. I’ve been into poetry lately, and blogging, and Planty. I’ve also been juggling schoolwork as well as working-for-money. Although, I save some time on the socialization sector; I don’t have a very active social life. (Which can be sort of unpleasant, but somewhat of a blessing too…)

Maybe I haven’t written enough lately, and my muscles are weak. Maybe I just am not a “Writer” anymore, and I need to re-become one. I write, sure…but fiction comes hard these days. I haven’t gotten started on the novel I would love to be writing right now.

I am also out of my writers’-circle. I mean, online, I have you guys—a small group of writing friends. But in real life, I haven’t really been sharing my work much, I haven’t been chatting it up with my writer homies. Life takes precedence, of course. But writing should be part of my life.

Maybe I’m lazy.

Maybe me is just rusty.

Just sharin’.