No Talking!

People fascinate me. I am, truly, an ardent fan of human quirks. I can sit and watch people for a LOOOOOONG time.

At heart, I am a shy person. I’m not the one that goes into a room full of strangers and starts chatting people up. I am very content to sit with my thoughts and simply watch as the human condition plays out in front of me.

One of these interesting little quirks that amuses me is our unwillingness to interact with each other- even when it would be natural to do so. I know why I’m sitting alone- I’m too shy to say hello. But what is it about certain situations that causes us to clam up like a teenager that just been asked who they’re going to go hang out with?

Take the supermarket checkout line. Here we get to see both the unwillingness to communicate and passive aggressiveness at its worst. Have you ever placed your items too close to the stuff of the person in front of you and NOT put the little divider in place between the orders? A fun game is to bet the over/under on how long before the person in front of you grabs one of the plastic blocks and gruffly place it on the conveyor belt. My totally nonscientific (and fabricated) observations place the average at 3.5 seconds. Try it next time you’re at the supermarket. Or, for the advanced players, place a second spacer down immediately after theirs. Then tell the cashier that the first separator is not yours. Watch confusion ensue.

Elevators are another interesting phenomenon. Places that warrant silence and solitary reflection: casket-side at a wake, hospital rooms of unconscious patients, church/synagogue/mosque. All of these make sense to me. But the elevator? It’s like a magical cone of silence descends on us once the doors close. Try chatting up a stranger in an elevator some time. Ask them questions and watch the answers become softer and softer with each response.

The epitome of the “why don’t we talk anymore” syndrome has to be texting. I was fascinated by my first Android smartphone last year. As I explored its features, I was amazed at the voice recognition technology. Rather than typing a word or phrase, all I had to do was speak it. Magic! That childlike wonder lasted until I realized that I was carrying on a text conversation with my wife, texting and responding in real time, by speaking my texts to the phone then hitting ‘Send’. Think about that one for a moment… The challenge with this foible? Call someone as soon as you text them. Ask if they got your text. Then recap said text.

Just some random musings this evening. As a warning, I don’t recommend actually trying any of the challenges above. People are crazy!


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