Small Talk7:30 AM
Why is it that when we meet a new person, we tell them all of the unnecessary information? Of course it's helpful to know one's name and age; I perfectly understand that. But really, we don't need to know where we live unless we're planning on getting together sometime soon or if we're visiting from another state. It's not particularly insightful to discover your favorite color is pink and mine is blue -- who cares? How did colors get to be so important to one's personality? I've never thought of my "favorite" color as anything but a necessary contribution to small talk.
I don't like small talk. They say there are three levels of conversation: the first level is, like we've been talking about, small talk; the second is a bit like what's going on in our lives, what we want to be when we grow up, whether we believe Christ is the only way to heaven; the third is deep, stuff you'd only discuss with your closest friends -- all your dreams, desires and epic fails.
Well, understandably then, I like the second and third levels best. We should eliminate the first. For why is it that we think we can build relationships by discussing the weather? The weather is what it is no matter how much we comment on it. When writing an email, I don't know why I feel compelled to mention that it's raining today. It's as if we've been brainwashed. Unless we're all about to die from a tornado, there doesn't seem much point in that.
And then there is sports and politics, two of the most controversial and pointless topics. Why somebody thinks I'm interested in whether an overpaid guy ran a ball into an end zone, I'll never know. Some may say, "Well, as an introductory topic, it's just trying to touch a common point with humanity." That's exactly where it fails -- at least in my case. And don't get me started on politics. There's nothing more uncomfortable about two people who hardly know each other banding together to bash one's President.
Come to think of it -- to be tolerant and fair -- these are all acceptable topics to discuss on first meeting. That's fine. But if it stays that way, if all we ever learn of each other is what our favorite pizza topping is or whether we'd rather sky dive or bungee jump or that we play volleyball every Friday, then we have accomplished nothing with our talk. That's why it's called small. It cramps friendships. It allows no room to dream together, forge a relationship and encourage one another. The focus is not on others; it's on outside topics that don't matter much.
Why don't we talk of more important things? Why is it that we save the knowledge that we're Christian -- oh, and by the way, passionately so -- until years later? Why don't we tell people what truly matters in our lives? Or what we're trying to accomplish in life? Or how the Lord is working in us?
That's what truly matters, is it not? And yet, even among Christians, especially among Christians, I might add, talk is decidedly neutral.
Perhaps we should enlarge it.