Thursday, October 26, 2006

You are not your favorite TV show

After almost three grueling weeks, this "fun fact" was given to me by one of my co-workers:

"My favorite TV shows are CSI Miami, Grey's Anatomy, and Meduim."
She had outwardly agonized over it to me on several occasions. But with her, it was different. It wasn't a "pity me" or a "quit bugging me" kind of tone. No. It felt like a "help me". Like a: "this shouldn't possibly be this hard".

She had been talking about it the night before with her new husband. They couldn't, for the life of them, come up with anything interesting to say about her. "I guess I don't do much outside of work anymore," she lamented. With other people who couldn't give me an answer, it was I who was disheartened. This time, it was her.

I'm starting to get really curious. Like I've discovered some sort of ultimate personality test. Just ask someone to tell you something interesting about their life, past or present. Apparently, some people cannot do it. And I suspect the way they respond will tell you a lot about who they are.

Along those lines, I find that I'm often disappointed by my response when someone asks me "what's new?" My instinct is always to immediately say "not much." Some of that comes from the fact that, while I don't dislike talking about myself, I am never particularly eager to do it. It's not for any specific reason though, other than I don't need to do it the way some other people do.

The contradiction is that I hate how no one ever seems to give me a halfway interesting response when I ask them the same question. Is it because we all assume that those small things that have happened in the last few days are probably not interesting to the person who just asked? For working adults, are those big interesting things so far apart that we cannot quickly recall them to satisfy a friend's curiosity?

The irony of course, is that we all consistently give the most uninteresting response possible when we say, "oh, not much."

Maybe that's all it takes to make great conversation? When someone asks what you've been up to, instead of hemming and hawing (because you don't want to talk about yourself, or because you don't think your response will be interesting to them, or because...), tell them the truth, even if you don't think it sounds interesting.

Maybe the difference between boring and interesting is nothing more than a bit of conversational salesmanship?

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