Why do people insist on talking about the weather?
More importantly, why do people insist on talking to me about the weather?
Just once, when assaulted with the mundane “nice weather we’re having, ‘eh?” line, I wish I could think of something original to say on the spot. Something better than “tell the weather channel, they give a shit”. Alas, I resort to jump into this conversation with vigour.
Why, do I do that?
People tell me it’s polite small talk. I say, if you want to make small talk, start chatting about midgets. It won’t be a long conversation, but it’s certainly better than uninformed opinions about cumulus nimbi and spots of rain on the lowveld.
Is nimbi even the plural of nimbus? Who knows.
It is in this inane, shallow cultural phenomenon however , that we find something so inexplicably deep and profound. It permeates to the core of society. It speaks of the need to belong, and the inherent fear of rejection.
You see, we would LIKE to be able to talk to anyone, but we need a common point of interest to build a conversation on. Thus, out of fear that the other person might not share your intense interest in the thermodynamic properties of your special breed of duck, you resort to some or other safe topic. Like the weather, or how time flies. The latter being especially popular in the the weeks preceding major calendar events, such as Christmas, New Year’s or another ancient relative’s funeral.
If we are to believe Maslow and his hierarchy of needs, which I tend to do, the problem (and subsequently the solution) seems quite obvious. Any level on the pyramid is only as stable as the level below. A person who is afraid to express himself publicly, thus endangering his social acceptance/self actualization, inadvertently has issues with his/her self-esteem. To strengthen one’s self-esteem, you need to find security in your friends/family.
I therefore believe that if we are to root out nonsensical conversations about how “sunny the sun is on this sunny summer day”, we need to start giving our friends and family the platform to safely, without fear of rejection, express themselves freely while with us. This will give them the confidence to take this expression to the rest of the world. This confidence will help them reach heights unimaginable to people who don’t have that support structure. It will also, if we are to believe many surveys about what woman want in a guy (and vice versa) get them laid.
How do YOU treat your friends? Do you give them the safety net of free speech, or do you feel threatened by confidant people? If this is the case, maybe it is you who need to deal with some insecurities?