Title is the most accurate phrasing I can think of here. Iunno. How do you even start a fucking conversation these days?
Through a very very short span of time in history society has changed so drastically, and the powers that control it. The change we’re undergoing is so rapid I would argue that not even humans from 30-40 years ago would function the same socially the way we do today.
One of my friends actually put it really well;
“How do you introduce yourself to someone you seek as a romantic partner without them calling you a rapist and ruining your life? How do you even find the time of day to care about such ridiculously mind numbing topics out of someone, tolerance? acceptance? Patience?“
Or keep up with the most idiotic trends and popular icons.. People used to be down to earth and honest. You know, you scratch my back I scratch yours kind of deal. We stuck together in smaller communities, and socialized in a healthy way. So what the hell happened?
The internet happened.
I think social climates vary drastically however depending on where you are, who you are surrounded by and the community you are in, how you were raised. It depends on a persons sense of identity and their affiliations, their attachment style, etc. With the internet, you could see people are more isolated, yet global communication is now possible, and it’s given a voice to a lot of people who have been unheard previously. Think about the current stage of civil rights, feminism and lgbtq communities around the world, and how much support and organization can be made through the use of the internet. The culture in America has been driven by capitalism for a while now, the materialism is a huge part of it, there have always been pop icons and trends and so on, but also people are using this materialism as means of security and comort. Some people keep intimacy at a distance to protect themselves from emotional hurt. Most people don’t really need to show emotional depth in todays world, especially because that can be so vulnerable, so they’re awkward at expressing it to others, and may distract themselves with something that feels better. Emotions can be seen as weak, uncomfortable, and painful, it’s not really that surprising that people don’t go there, especially in social situations which people usually want to find relief in. As for more existential topics, well that makes it all the scarier when they compare their repressed emotional life to ideas on the nature of existence. Deep relationships take a long time to develop, it’s not acceptable to walk up to someone and expect to share life stories and so on, people have learned that their emotional lives are something to protect from those not in their inner circle, if they have an inner circle. As far as romantic relationships are, it’s usually just better to get to know someone on a friend level than to immediately suggest romance. With the instant and immediacy of materials and information these days, the emotional and social side are put on delay. However, people as a whole have always had their downsides throughout all of history, including 30 or 40 years ago, their social prejudice and judgments, their unchecked psychopathology, racism, sexism, political and economic issues , media, war, the list goes on and all of that still has an effect on today. However, In our day and age, the selfishness and emotional isolation people may be experiencing could be seen as another flux in the climate of our culture and how it has shaped us as individuals and as a society. There are lots of flaws, definitely, but we’ve also come a long way. 40 years ago interracial and same sex relationships were a severe taboo in America and in many parts of the world. Now, not nearly as much. That says something about our increasing social connectivity. Materialism sucks, and it sucks when you have no one to talk to, who is really on your level. I have the same problem, but it’s important to be compassionate, and to look for the good things as well. In south park, cartman said, “in order to find good friends you have to wade through all the dicks first” so that’s some good advice as well. And maybe next time you speak to someone and start making a friend, take it slow, they aren’t going to immediately share their life with you. Practice talking to strangers, and learn from those mistakes, attempt to be good at small talk. Some people you can instantly click with, and others, not so much. In a coffee shop, if someone seems like they could be receptive to a conversation, ask to have your coffee with them. Pay attention to body language and facial expressions and those sorts of cues. Once things are going well, try and talk about topics and ideas that you would want to share, if they aren’t interested then leave it there. It’s good to get their perspective as well though.
Thanks for the incredibly detailed reply here man. You’re onto something, for sure. I agree we don’t need to show emotional depth, but it is way better if you stop tensing up when having to deal with other people and become more ‘receptive’. Like I said it seems like it used to be much easier, you’d think social barriers would be less of a problem in this day and age for so many people but it really isn’t. Of course it depends on the place and culture, and the community itself and all that.. But it still seems widespread at least especially in our western societies, where we have developed much more.
I personally do not excel at small talk, I never really have and I’m not sure if I could get into that mindset to do it on a regular basis. I really prefer strong, honest conversations and if I’m not talking about something important or mildly important then I’d rather keep it short.