Small talk is a common social interaction that can help break the ice and establish connections with others. However, some people find it uncomfortable or even creepy. One person shares disappointment with the fact that small talk is now seen as ‘creepy’, however, others have differing thoughts.
The Social Contract is Broken
“I was raised by an Appalachian, so I was taught to say hello to people and make eye contact if you sit next to them at work or they are your cashier and things of that nature. Even as a woman, I feel like people are creeped out if I say hello. The only group that is accepting of it is people above 50 or 60. I said hello to another woman at my job and she acted like she was afraid of me and gave me a dirty look like I was disgusting.”
“I feel like it’s regional. Your experience is definitely like my experience in South Florida. Nobody wants to talk to you ever. But we recently moved to the Philadelphia suburbs and everyone is incredibly nice here. It cracks us up because we constantly hear people say how mean and rude people are here. I can count on one hand how many genuinely rude people I’ve met here.”
Politeness is Not Quid Pro Quo
“There is no incentive. You do it because it’s the right thing to do. Being polite means being respectful and considerate of others, whether it’s respecting their desire for silence or engaging in small talk with them if they’re chatty. Politeness is not quid pro quo. You don’t do it to get something. That’s being disingenuous.”
“I’m in a major city and I’m friendly with all my neighbors and often encounter strangers who smile and say hello on the street. I agree there are areas where people are unfriendly but it differs by locale.”
Good Morning Neighborhood
“I live in a residential area of Philly and I call it a “good morning neighborhood” because many people will make eye contact and say good morning, even on a Monday. My husband and I are always striking up conversations with random folks in the area. I’ve lived in major cities in the Northeastern US for well over a decade, and I’ve never experienced anything like it.”
“I’ve noticed something similar when I just go on a walk near where I live. I like to politely acknowledge some people that I pass by making eye contact and nodding, but it seems like the only people who respond in kind are at least a generation older than me. I avoid acknowledging anyone my age or younger because I’m afraid they’d see it as weird”
“I grew up small town, and I still make a point to do it on principle for everyone I pass. Just a nod or smile. 80% of women ignore me, but I figure that’s just a woman “stranger danger” thing. “Don’t let the strange man think it’s okay to talk to me.” Ironically, I actually think I’d be annoyed if they stopped and actually wanted to talk. Men tend to nod back.
To be honest, it’s not even about being polite. It’s also a safety thing to me, I’m signalling “I see you and am aware of your presence.” I don’t want a sketchy dude thinking I’m so lost in my own world that he can sneak up on me.”
“There’s usually a time and place for small talk and I am finding as I grow older that I do not have enough time to waste on people in general. It has nothing to do with being polite or creepy, I just have other things on my mind usually.”
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