Friday, April 27, 2012

Basic Human Interaction

I am a master of awkward pauses. You wouldn't know it from reading this because my sentences go on and on until I decide it's time to end my post. Truth is, I've paused to think about what I'm going to write about 5 times since beginning this paragraph and I'm still not 100% positive my computer didn't feel uncomfortable being around me while the ol' brain gears were turning. That's why us non-talkative people do so well in chat rooms and AIM, or whatever outdated software you're using to communicate digitally with other folk. We get time to think about our next sentence rather than being put on the spot and being forced to speak words which have to go together to form a complete thought which isn't perverted, off-topic or intangible. In real life, I just remain in damage control mode. Probably why I was never good at picking up women. Here's how I imagine the whole process going:

"Hey, I'm Mark, what's your name?"

"Hi, I'm Generic Boring Bar Girl."

"Nice to meet you. So..."


I'm going to stop myself there for a minute before it gets worse. In my mind, there's a set number of things to ask from this point. None of them are justifiable in my mind. Why? Because I over-think non-existent undertones way more than I should. I can ask something like, "Do you live around here?" but really what I think she's thinking that means is, "Hey, can I find your place on Google Maps and stalk you?". It's my experience that stalking typically makes for bad conversations, so on to the next question.

The next thing I could ask is, "What do you do for a living?". Seems like an innocent enough question, except what if she just lost her job? It would make sense seeing as she's getting tanked on a Tuesday evening and this is the cheapest bar in town. That alone would give her more reason to think I'm a stalker/rapist because I'm sitting around a cheap bar on a Tuesday evening trying to talk to drunk, depressed women. Maybe something like, "What are you drinking?"... I wouldn't ask this because I personally don't care what she's drinking and if I did, then that would come off as rapey too because maybe I just want to know how fast this Rufy will dissolve in her Appletini or whatevertheheck girl-drink she's downing way too fast.

You know what, picking up women at a bar is douchey anyway. Plus, she's a horrible conversationalist and should know better than to be at a cheap bar on a Tuesday night getting drunk around a bunch of guys that hang out at joints like that. Thank God I'm married and never had to resort to this kind of nonsense.

Where was I... Conversations. Yes. If you noticed the last thing I said in that original back and forth was "So...". The word "So" is a death sentence in any conversation if it isn't IMMEDIATELY followed by something interesting. If you've used this word without proper preparation, then you might as well just walk away in shame, there is no recovering. Just as a bonus, you want to know what the web equivalent to "So" is? You're not going to believe it... "LoL". You know why it's a webversation death wish? Because it means you literally have NOTHING to contribute to the other person's funny story.

EXAMPLE: In real life, Person A provides an amusing verbal anecdote, Person B laughs. As the laughter between A and B begins to subside, person B says something like, "Oh man..." then forces a single laugh, then proceeds to say "So..." LoL is NO different than this. It will end your text message convos, it will end your email chains and it will end your career if you say it out loud to your boss.

Really, there's no need to even use LoL, you're chatting online, you have literally ALL THE TIME IN THE WORLD to write proper responses, why waste it? In addition, you're now in a situation where neither person knows who should type next. Is that LoL going to be followed up with something? Am I supposed to respond to that LoL? Should I just walk away from this little chit-chat? Odds are you should just walk away, because somebody that awkward in the digital world is BOUND to be just as awkward in real life. Or maybe they just suck at chatting. Oh, and I know you're not really laughing out loud. Quit lyin'!

Back to real life. There really isn't any appropriate way to get out of a conversation once it's gone stale. You'd think that pauses are a perfect opportunity to say, "Well, I got things to... do... somewhere" and walk off. In my mind that's even worse. You don't want to end it on an awkward note. Put yourself in their shoes: Why the heck would you ever want to talk to that person again? It was weird. You ran out of things to talk about the last time, so what occurrence in your life was so mind-boggling and intriguing that the next time you speak with that person you're going to have endless topics to converse about? You know what's really going to happen? You're going to start out awkwardly saying hello, then you're going to start to tell a story and they'll interrupt you and say, "Yeah, yeah, you mentioned that last time". Then you're going to be in an even worse situation because now you don't know whether to finish that story in greater detail to make it seem like you're not just forgetful or repetitive, or you're going to have to think of something new to talk about that isn't so far off topic that you just sound like a random fact generator. You see the mess you got yourself into?!

Back to the question of what to do in awkward pauses. My conclusion is that you should just avoid talking to people you know you'll never have anything worthwhile to talk about with. How do you avoid them? Easy. If you're about to approach them in passing, sing their name and walk on about your business. I promise you, this will work. They'll be flattered that you took the time to A.) Remember their name and B.) deem their name important enough to put it to music inside your head. In addition, they'll be confused about what just happened and won't have time to stop you to talk. You'll be long gone by the time they come to.
I could keep rambling about this stuff all day. And technically I have. I started writing this at 3 in the afternoon. It is now 8:33.  Lots and lots of awkward pauses there

So... Yeah.
~ Mark


  1. If I could sing your name in a comment and walk on by I would. Dan beat me to the punch on the LOL. That was relly funny.