[Post 1 in the Interesting People series]
I’ve false started this about a half dozen times over the last month or so.
I’m becoming more and more intolerant lately of vapid conversation. I don’t mean small talk. Small talk has its place. It’s a social carrier wave we use to communicate non-verbally across, to just “be social.”
No I’m talking about conversations that are ostensibly interesting but just end up being back and forth declarations of obviousness with a declarative rather than an exploratory spirit. They’re assertions rather than conversations usually consisting of someone ranting and people nodding or declaraing their assent. Sometimes they’ve got a bit more to them. But it usually falls in the same category more or less.
I’ve avoided sportsball talk almost entirely, which is good. The guys I know generally know I have no interest at all in fandom or stat obsession.
The next tier down though is “Did you see?/You’ve gotta watch” madness, which is almost as bad. I just can’t spend my time watching season upon season of Random Show just to be able to have something to talk about that’ll consist of little more than “wasn’t it cool when soandso…?”
Politics is no good generally because people just seem to want to bitch about it. At best it’s a “didjahear?” if you’re on the same page. If you’re not then just forget it, fingers stabbing and raised voices.
I get why people do it. But it just seems like there are few people who are interested in exploring real issues of any kind.
There are a few people who’ve stood out in as many years. People who have something interesting going on that they’re excited in sharing or diving deep into.
I FIND it, and this will “cause some discomfort”, to be correlated with socioeconomic strata. When I lived in downtown Nashville I could head into Blend and, depending on what trade conferences were going on, get in to some of the most wild conversations. And even on slow nights the bartenders (for the most part), regulars and I would predictably get in to something. Material sciences involved in working with steel or wood or philosophical questions that someone would lob. Discussions about human nature, the mechanics of music production, leather working, brewing, mycology for fuck’s sake. Whatever.
Hell one time I sat next to a guy who’s hobby was rocketry. I figured he meant those little estes rocket kits you can get at hobby lobby and such. But no, he and his buddies built large scale solid-fuel rockets that were fucking space worthy. They had machinists, propellant guys, physicists and electronics guys building the sensor packages from scratch. They had a launch event every year someplace in the high desert in the Southwest where they’d put it all together and send them up. I was just awestruck. We talked for hours and I never saw him again. Well fair enough. He was only in town for whatever.
Online conversations with people on reddit or twitter or various chat rooms just doesn’t quite cut it. There’s just not enough actual nonverbal communication to be able to get more than words across. Even when it’s “in depth” it’s an exceedingly shallow affair.
Hell maybe the new generation of live video conversation is the closest modern equivalent.
Like I said there have been a few people who I’ve actually been able to sit down and “get in to it” with. But as thirsty as we all were for those conversations, those people have for the most part gone their separate ways.
I’ve been wondering if it’s not just a product of the location I’ve settled down, an admittedly blue-collar area of the country. But I’m not at all sure it’s not so much that the density of interesting people is greater in major metropolitan areas as it is the simple numbers game.
Even creative people seem to be in relatively short supply. OR, which I suppose might be the case, they’re around but holding their cards close to their chest since the unwashed masses just don’t give a crap about creative endeavors. Tough to tell.
The other option that comes to mind is that I’m just arms-length from these people. But that doesn’t scan because I’ve had enough experiences to disprove that. The aforementioned random bar encounters with Interesting People.
But I’m absolutely fucking starving for it.
And it’s something I have to do something about, but really have no idea how to attack.
Increase the size of my social pool? I definitely need to do that. Just force myself into ever widening circles until I find exceptional people in other groups.
Roll the dice more and be MORE outgoing about Interesting Topics? I have a real hard time thinking I can amp up on that without being completely fucking obnoxious.
Am I one of the small people in other people’s perceptions? Seems inconceivable. But so much that does is not.
It’s something as I said that I’ve been dwelling on for some time without any particular conclusions as yet.
We’ll have to see what I come up with.