Nice weather today; a small talk on small talk

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Oakwood seniors make conversation, both big and small, in the hallways after school. Paul Rosenbaum (12) defines smalltalk as, “Easy conversations like ‘How are you doing?’ the weather, and other small things.” Rosenbaum among other students, dislikes small talk but doesn’t outright defy the social convention. Photo By Brian Stephenson

Smalltalk: The little bits of conversation people have when waiting for class, standing in the hallway, or walking home with acquaintances. Smalltalk is, for better or worse, a fundamental part of our society. When faced with a choice between silence or smalltalk, it’s not uncommon to choose the latter; thus, the weather is discussed en masse.  Oakwood students aren’t strangers to the verbal status quo; while some enjoy the tradition, others dislike and even reject smalltalk, preferring silence in its stead.

Among the more verbose crowd of Oakwood students, Bennett Davis (12), enjoys small talk and sees it as a way to not only meet new people, but to pass the time.

“I feel like small talk is kind of the bypass conversation when two of the parties don’t know what to talk about,” Davis said.

But what do people talk about when there is nothing else to converse? Some of the more popular topics include things like the weather, big games, current events, and whatever’s on TV. As Davis mentioned, the smalltalk is simply a means to bypass in depth conversation; however, Charlie Ross (9), feels that it can distract from more meaningful talks.

“I like to talk about big things; I find small talk holds me back in terms of talking with people.” Ross said.

While smalltalk may distract from more in depth conversations, finding friends may be made easier through casual side chatter. This opinion is held by both parties, those who enjoy smalltalk and those who do not.

“It’s a way to make new friends,” Davis said when discussing smalltalk’s uses. Davis later went on to mention that smalltalk is for those times when, “you know you’re not gonna get to know a person and be best friends, but you just start smalltalking.”

The friendly acquaintanceship stands to be built when striking up the casual conversation. This applies two-fold in college. The new frontier requires some form of casual banter to find a new friend. Easy to some, this concept is frightening to others.

Ian O’Connor (12) said, “Im kinda afraid of [smalltalk] so it’ll be interesting being forced to choose between talking to people to make friends and just not have any friends.”

By Brian Stephenson

stephenson.brian@oakwoodschools.org

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