Monday, October 02, 2006

Monday Rant: Stutter-conversations

I have a reputation around here as a guy who likes to talk, who perhaps likes the sound of his own voice, who will converse happily for extended periods.

These allegations are probably based solidly in fact, but this does not prevent me from finding one form of the conversational arts thoroughly repugnant: the interrupted conversation.

Imagine, you are sitting at your computer, headphones on (out of courtesy, of course), work-like events occuring on your screen. Perhaps you'd like a break, perhaps not. Perhaps your whole (day/week/month/year/life) does, by itself, constitute a "break". Your co-worker makes a statement, or asks a question - fine, you respond. You remove your headphones, cease-and-desist your activities, and turn to face the speaker, expecting a conversation to now form. Your co-worker returns to what they were previously doing. Mildly disappointed, you return the headphones to your ears and continue to work (or whatever).

Then they say something else, something related to the previous statement in much the same way as any two consecutive statements in a conversation might be.

At this point, you realize you have been dragged into a stutter-conversation. Long, potentially awkward (more likely, just boring) pauses between inane commentary. Nobody can get anything useful done in the 1-to-3-minute-long pauses, and the conversation itself is exasperating, boring, and lame.

Don't do this. If you have one thing to say, say it, get the response, then SHUT UP. If you want a full conversation, either ask if your target audience would agree to such an event, or (more rudely, but still not as bad as stutter-conversing) simply start a conversation, and maintain it using cultural norms of inter-vocalization interval lengths.

This shit happens to me all the time. Almost every day, someone will interrupt me, then apparently feel bad about interrupting me and shut up, only to change the mind back and talk again, and again decide not to bother me.

Fucking make up your damn mind! Talk, or no talk. There is no stop-start.

1 comment:

Carlo said...

Do you think that this may just be an after-effect of a more general trend known as social akwardness? That's really my pet peeve. Having been socially akward as a child, for some years in university, I went out of my way to befriend socially akward people (i.e. people who cannot carry on conversations, people who are extremely shy, etc.). In the end, it wasn't fucking worth it at all. I say screw them, if the conversation can't ignite and get the engine going, ignore them as though they weren't speaking... headphones help.