On a recent episode of “This American Life” they tried to present a series of stories that prove wrong an old list of conversational topics that are considered boring. The show was inspired by the mother of one of the producers who raised her with this list. The mother then was to judge if they proved her wrong or not and made a topic interesting. When they presented the list at the beginning, she made some remarks after a few of the points, saying “nobody cares.” For example, one of them was “Don’t talk about your dreams, nobody cares.” That may be true in most cases although it hasn’t happened to me that much. I have had conversations with friends in which we share dreams and we find them amusing. I have used dreams from time to time on this blog to illustrate a larger point. But I’m not going to go into dreams today, nor am I going to go through any of the other items on her list (I don’t remember them all anyway and I’m too lazy to look them up). My point is: so what if nobody cares?
A conversation with somebody may be a two-way street but that doesn’t mean it has to be beneficial both ways. Sometimes a person says something to somebody else more for their own benefit than anything. Sometimes somebody needs to talk things out loud to somebody else to work out a problem, even without that other person’s input or for that matter, interest. Sometimes somebody just needs to talk for the sake of talking. That doesn’t mean the other person doesn’t have to listen. But they don’t have to care.
People at work may make fun of me for talking to myself (although plenty of them do it without even realizing that they do). But I’m often rambling on to them about whatever subject is in my head at the time as well. I’m not necessarily expecting feedback other than acknowledgement of what I’m saying. But I’m either venting frustration or letting out excess energy by having a sort of one-and-a-half-way conversation with the co-worker. Then I will talk to myself while I’m working along out back sometimes. That’s usually for the best. I reserve things for those instances that I know other people wouldn’t–or shouldn’t–want to hear.
There’s always a matter of bad judgement in terms of other people’s interest, of course. Sometimes I will bring up a subject to somebody that I think they would find interesting that ends up dissipating. For example, there is at least one other science fiction fan at work to whom I would bring up some old movie I recently watched. They might not be as interested in that movie as much as I thought they did. Chances are they’re more into sci-fi than I am anyway, which might be why. Regardless, I don’t feel bad about the situation. I wasn’t going to assume they cared. I cared going into the conversation, which at least I know held their interest at first.
I’ve said in the past that I’m not a great conversationalist. I think I’m getting better but maybe this topic has something to do with why I had such a problem. I would go into a conversation without trying so hard to think about what would hold the other person’s interest. I was more interested in keeping up and trying to get out whatever came into my head. They might not care about what I’ve been saying. But I don’t ultimately care about what I’m saying, either. There’s the difference. I should try to care about what I’m saying and not dare about what they’re saying. I should just listen. After all, they’re talking for their own sake as much as I am.