We’ve all been there. We all know the feeling. We all hate the feeling. We all probably feel kind of self-centered for having the feeling so often but, fuck, we can’t help it, this just is not interesting.
I’ll paint the picture for you. Someone is talking to you, talking at you, they might be your friend or they might be your coworker or they might be a stranger you’re sitting next to on the bus, and you just couldn’t care less about what they’re saying to you. It’s not out of maliciousness that you don’t care, it’s not that you don’t like the person who’s talking to you. In fact, you often like them so much and are so sensitive to their feelings that you’re going to grin and bear it through the rest of their mindnumbingly boring story even if it kills you, just so as not to upset them. It’s just that, really, you have been given no reason to care, so you don’t.
And, as much as you hate to admit it, you’ve played the other part in this scenario too. You defnitiely have. Countless times, probably. Even with the people who care about you the most and you’d like to think would be interested in anything and everything you have to say. Yep, we’ve all been the person spouting on and on about our own shit while the person we’re talking to pretends to be interested but really is waiting for any way to change the subject and in the meantime is thinking about what they’re going to eat next. I don’t think moments like these are a byproduct of people being wrong for each other, necessarily. I don’t think not caring about a particular story or anecdote makes us a bad friend or a mismatched lover either. It’s just that part of being human is having our own inner subjectivities, and oftentimes it’s hard to gauge which parts of our subjectivities are going to be relatable and interesting to any human other than ourselves.
That being said, I think there are a few conversation topics that lead to a bored and disinterested listener more consistently than others. There are some subjects that may seem interesting to you, because they’re what you’re thinking about, but are almost never interesting to anybody else. Here are 6 conversation topics that should be banned. Forever.
1. Your Dreams
By this I don’t mean your aspirations and goals, most people in your life really do care about these and want to to listen to you pretty much any time you feel like talking about them. And you feel the same way about their dreams in life, I’m sure. What neither of you cares about nearly as much are the half-formed recollections of what you dreamt about the night before. Yet we still can’t help ourselves, we feel compelled to talk about our own dreams even though we know we hate listening to others talk about theirs. Listen, these dreams of ours, they’re not as weird as we think, or maybe they really are that weird but they’re definitely not as interesting as we think. People don’t care that we dreamt we went on a fishing trip with our Uncle Mike and some girl we went to high school with who we weren’t even that close with which is weird and then you reeled in a 6-pack of PBR tall boys (how random, right??) and that you were really excited to drink them but then Miley Cyrus appeared out of nowhere and snatched them away from you before cackling, turning into a fish, and jumping into the water. We know people don’t care. But we can’t stop. We won’t stop. It’s our party we can say what we want.
2. How You Slept
For some, sleep is a reflex. It’s not something that needs to be thought about or talked about, it just happens and it’s fucking awesome. For others, for people like me, each night of sleep is an epic war between Zzzquil and my asshole brain that won’t fucking turn off. And I often want to talk to others about this war, about each grueling battle (the post-coital Battle of Shameridge wherein I was awake from 12-2, the hard-fought battle of “Finally!” when I slept from 2-6. The surprise battle of “Seriously?” when I was awake from 6-7 and then the final battle of “Snooze ‘Til I Can’t Shower” when I slept to my alarm and in 5 minute increments thereafter). Okay, see, you totally just skimmed that. I talked about that way too much. But because of how much a bad night of sleep can debilitate you and make you feel shitty, you often want to let others know about it so you can have an in-built excuse for anything you might do wrong during the day. But people really don’t care. Your war isn’t epic at all. It just sounds like a boring timeline. So, for those who have this struggle, this should be a secret war that only you know about, like the war between me and yellow mustard. I’ve already said too much.
3. Your Workouts/Workout Schedule
It’s awesome that you’re getting exercise. Good for you! Way to stick to that New Years resolution! I’ve probably even noticed that you look great and I should tell you this if I haven’t already. But I don’t care how many situps you can do, how many miles you plan to run next Thursday, or what ratio of whey powder you use in your protein drink. Keep at it, and also, keep it to yourself.
4. How You Got to Where You Are
I don’t mean this one figuratively. It is the refuge of people who have very little to talk about with each other to discuss either the weather (everyone gets a free pass on this one, though), or how they got to where they are. Oh, you took the freeway to get here? WOW! You must have been going so fast!! What?? The 87 bus was 5 minutes late? I’ve never heard anything that has ever riled me up to this extent!! You couldn’t find your keys AND you couldn’t find a parking spot? Well then we better keep you away from sharp objects, mister. Look, I understand the need to fill awkward silences. And also the need to start conversations small and work your way to more substance. So a very brief mention of the route that made it possible for you to have your conversation in the first place is okay, but if you find yourself going any longer than this allotment of ‘very brief’ then it would probably be best to stop yourself, and move on to how it’s getting dark so early these days.
5. The Story About When You Got Way Too High/Drunk and Everything Was So Funny
It was really funny then, I don’t doubt it. Seriously, I’m sure it was really really really funny when all this happened. But do you want to know why it was so funny? Because you were really high/drunk. Not because it was actually funny and merits a retelling. Not because that dude who looked like Dumbledore on the public access channel at 4 in the morning was actually saying the craziest shit anyone’s ever heard ever, not because those Gardetto’s were actually God’s greatest gift to this earth. Feel free to reminisce about it and relive it time and time again with those select few who were involved in the shenanigans with you. But leave it at that. Keep it in that inner circle. Spare everyone else the unpleasant task of having to fake-laugh with you.
6. What You Posted on Social Media
I do all that shit that the kids are doing these days. I tweet, I Facebook, I Instagram, I Tumble. You name it. And, although it’s called social media, my approach to it is very antisocial. I don’t think I’d be the only one to admit to that, either. So I’m definitely not the person to give some diatribe about how, because of these new technological outlets, this generation of ours has lost touch with a vital interpersonal element that was passed down to us by the generations that came before us. What I do think I can say is that, during those times that we actually do see and talk to each other, you know, in person, that talking about what we tweeted or thought about tweeting, what we posted on Instagram or saw on Facebook, is not only very likely less interesting than we think it is, but also kind of a cop-out, a way to be distant and antisocial while still interacting with somebody. It probably feels like we’d rather be on these sites and talking to our followers than be with the person we’re with, talking to the person we’re with. They also probably already saw that we tweeted or instagrammed or facebooked what we’re telling them we tweeted, instagrammed or facebooked. So they’re not only forced to pretend they’re interested, but they also have to choose whether or not to act like this is new information. This is not a pleasant position to put someone in. There are so many other things to talk about that won’t leave the person listening feeling like they’d rather be somewhere else, feeling disinterested, feeling like they’re being talked at and not with.