Thursday, September 15, 2005
The lost art of a good conversation
This is not about cycling, and yet cycling is an antidote to the problem.
I'm frustrated and disappointed in the scarcity of good conversation flowing around here these days. The whole world seems to be going ADHD on me. Of course, to be fair, I wouldn't be realizing this if Riverboat and I hadn't fallen into some good conversation last night. It was fleeting, and abruptly interrupted, which was a shame. Until it happened I didn't realize how rare it has been lately.
I value bullshitting, playing the dozens with the bro's, and the need to just download the crap in your head on a friend, but that ain't conversation. Conversation is following a particular train of thought to a natural conclusion. Conversation is listening to, and responding to the subject being addressed, not what the subject reminds you of, or triggers for you. Tangents are great, as long they come back to the main trail. Hell, I don't know what's going on, but I find it to be sad, sad, sad.
What I hear most is "word pinball" and one-upsmanship. It's embarassing to listen to and I feel like I need to go wash my hands when I hear it happening.
" I went fishing yesterday and caught a 52 lb. Cobia with my Dad".
"Oh man, that's pretty cool, but I caught an 80 lb. Cobia once, but 52 lb. is still pretty big."
Now do you follow me? I'm not pointing fingers here, it is a common human weakness. This same thread of conversation could easily jump tracks to yet another non sequitur such as...
"80 lbs? Dude I knew a guy once who found 80 lbs. of cocaine while he was fishing".
This type of statement masquerades as related by it's reference to fishing and the proclaimed weight of the earlier fish, which itself was an attempt to kill or hijack the initial topic. Now the conversation will inevitably sink to the lowest common denominator, lies or war stories.
"President Bush has probably snorted 80 lbs. of cocaine, but nobody cares about that".
At this point the conversation has successfully moved away from personal experience into the realm of conjecture and vitriol toward (around here) a safe and common target. Boring. Boring and sad. In the initial example, the statement invites questions about "fishing with Dad" and yet that aspect of the statement is tactlessly avoided. Too personal? Too boring?
I hate to think we are all just killing time in each other's company. One on one with anybody this doesn't seem to happen, make it three and forget about it, nothing but blather and inanity.
The art of the good conversation needs to make a comeback. No more 24 hour news. Less booze.
Whatever it takes.
Chew on that shit-Juancho