So…this post falls squarely into the random thoughts of Julie Fanning LCSW category.
I saw this e-card http://www.someecards.com/seasonal-cards/polar-vortex-talking-weather-winter-freeze-funny-ecard and the caption above it was “boring people talk about the weather.” Granted when I saw it was the record setting cold days and I know I saw -17 on my phone so why wouldn’t I be commenting on the weather.
However, I started thinking about it and maybe talking about the weather in the everyday is just one of the ways we try to connect with people. It can be work trying to connect with someone else. If I don’t know you I certainly don’t want to try to connect by making a random statement about anything. Many statements would just cause conflict.
The weather is definitely safer than me going to some pleasant looking stranger I meet on the train “I was thinking about Obamacare and I think that…don’t you?” I may luck out and Pleasant Looking Stranger may have views similar to me or maybe they’ll have views that are diametrically opposite of mine and then it is all awkward. However, if I say to Mr. or Ms. Pleasant Looking Stranger – “I hate so much snow-” they’ll say something back. Yep, I know it will be on a totally superficial level but you start somewhere. Talking about the weather may bring on a pleasant conversation. They might reply back that they love winter because they love skiing or that they are hoping to retire to a beach or whatever. We’ve connected and I don’t have to figure out how to move to get away from Pleasant Looking Stranger.
You may be thinking “seriously Julie? Small talk – you are going on about small talk.” You know what –yes I am! I think we don’t spend enough time connecting. We go on with our busy lives and don’t want to waste a minute interacting with people not already on our radar. How many times have you heard “I already have enough friends.” Or “I don’t need to hear that person’s life story.” Why not? Life is about connecting. People come in and out of our lives all the time and our interactions are this huge part of the human experience.
When so many of us talk about trivial things like the weather -I wonder if it is just our better selves popping out. The parts of us that are hopeful for commonalities and connection with others so we grab on to something we can talk about – the weather is pretty basic. I think all the boring weather talk actually bodes well for the future of mankind. We are still polite enough to engage with others. We could choose to ignore everyone we meet but we don’t. We try to engage even if all we can come up with is “did you remember your umbrella today?” We are hopeful we will find something in common with someone else even if it is only “it sure is hot out there.” If you are not sure what to say – talk about the weather and connect the heck out of a fellow person.