I found myself in a prolonged conversational circle yesterday, when I realized something
epiphanic mildly obvious; no matter how dramatically the world changes, the basic tenets of the conversational circle have always remained intact.
From the 6th grade briefing about how Matt held hands with Stephanie to the business executive huddle that exists solely to reinforce everyone’s self-importance, here are the 7 people you’ll find in every friend group conversation:
1. The Overtalker
The overtalker is not a fan of Marxist conversational theory. Traditionally, he (it’s usually a he) is dead set on occupying at least 70% of the conversational space.
The overtalker, very much like the lead singer of a punk band in March 1999, is definitely his own worst enemy. All in all, he’s the type of person who’ll make some pretty good points for about three minutes straight, but will ultimately — and consistently — figure out a way to sabotage himself and his conversational credibility.
2. The Callback Sniper
The callback sniper lacks the quick vocal release to consistently make a dent in the conversation, so has to figure out other ways to assert him or herself. Oftentimes, this comes with an incredibly well-timed callback; a short, yet very effective burn.
In a friend group convo, the sniper’s primary role is to poke fun at the overtalker, thus somewhat restoring the balance of power.
Overtalker: I saw Furious 7. It was nuts! So amazing!!! (talks about Furious 7 for ten minutes straight)
fifteen minutes later…
Sniper: Hey, I meant to ask you guys…has anyone here seen Furious 7?
3. The Person Getting Squeezed Out
Between sidewalk squeeze outs and group convo squeeze outs, this person can’t catch a break.
Hopefully, the veteran squeeze-out victim has long-since realized that getting squeezed out has very little to do with them, and mostly has to do with the others’ voracious need for constant validation.
4. The Smuggler (AKA The Squeeze-Out’s Savior)
The only person who seems to realize that there’s someone else trying to get into the circle.
The smuggler will initially hold off on action, hoping that market forces and the invisible hand model of social dynamics will enable the lurker or squeeze-out victim to fully enter the circle.
Alas this usually doesn’t happen, and smuggler will usually make a physical gesture to the fringe participant, thus welcoming him or her into the circle. At this stage, everyone else will suddenly realize what’s going on, and pretend like they were aware of the situation the entire time.
5. The Person Who Pretends To Not Totally Know Stuff
Yesterday, our conversational circle digressed into a spirited conversation about Creed’s discography. Someone started singing to the lyrics to One Last Breath, not knowing what the song was actually called, and someone else responded saying “I think it’s called One Last Breath” — using I think as a qualifier because outright knowing the title of the song feels, for some reason, embarrassing.
I very much dislike this sort of conversational reality, and I think it has a lot to do with the crippling sense of self-awareness that stems from spending 8+ hours on the internet. Liking Creed nowadays implies some sort of greater cultural implication, as prescribed by a person who you’ve never met, who wrote something with a greater agenda in mind, and had a completely different entry point to the band that you did.
Anyway, I think that song One Last Breath was from their third album, which I’m gonna pretend like don’t know the name of.
6. The Random Knowledge Junkie
This is the person who pretends to not totally know stuff’s spiritual opposite. Whereas our predecessor was embarrassed to reveal certain information, this person proves his or her worth by spewing extremely random knowledge, all of which feels “on brand” for them.
This person’s primary role is to settle arguments pertaining to things like:
- the exact order of Ben Affleck movies (“Pearl Harbor was in 2001, Sum Of All Fears was in 2002”)
- what Soulja Boy’s real name is (DeAndre Way).
7. The Person Who’s Just There
This person’s primary qualification for being in the group is that they’ve always been in the group. He or she is incredibly nice and means well, but their most prolific moments are the initial greeting and departing handshake — sporting an odd combination of understandable introversion and a constant, possibly condescending? facial expression. They’re an enigma, and you’d think they were hiding something if you weren’t friends with their impressively active Facebook persona.