Up Front by Emma Hart

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Up Front: Casual, Shallow and Meaningless

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  • Sacha, in reply to JacksonP,

    facial recognition software

    The update of the Android OS released today can apparently unlock the phone/tablet when it recognises your face.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16838 posts Report Reply

  • JacksonP, in reply to BenWilson,

    It is extremely teachable

    While I agree with you to a degree, I don’t think instilling self-worth and confidence in young children (or adults) is all that easy, otherwise we would be living in a different world, no?

    Auckland • Since Mar 2011 • 2160 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to JacksonP,

    instilling self-worth and confidence

    Though self-esteem can be unhelpful.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16838 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to JacksonP,

    While I agree with you, I don't think instilling self-worth and confidence in young children is all that easy, otherwise we would be living in a different world, no?

    Indeed. The small talk is only a small piece of the picture. But every skill one acquires increases confidence, which goes with self-worth. I guess I'm just saying that it's one of the most basic things, rather like the 3 Rs, but even more so, even more important.

    In fact, I'd go so far as to suggest that declining ability in this basic skill is a source of lack of self-worth and confidence. Being unable to make friends because we can't get past Hello, doesn't help kids out of their shells. It seems to me that we care more often about our kids ability to read Shakespeare or balance chemical equations than their ability to make conversation. But I feel damned sure I know which one is more likely to give them lifelong assistance.

    Maybe it is inherited to a large degree, either by nature or nurture or both. I don't mean to get down on any parents with socially awkward kids. But I do stand by the point that it is teachable. Some will learn it faster than others.

    It's a bit like being able to drive a car. You can do without it. In some settings it would be entirely superfluous. Some people do have troubles learning it, too, it's an unfamiliar and scary thing. But that does not really make being unable to drive a virtue in itself. And it can be learned in a remarkably short time from a competent teacher, and it can open up a whole new world once learned.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8675 posts Report Reply

  • HORansome, in reply to BenWilson,

    It may be a skill that can be taught but it won't necessarily enrich your life. For example, I can do small talk (indeed, arguably I was taught the how and why of small talk due to my having a speech disability and needing to know ways to get around said disability) but it negatively impacts my life when I use that skill. I hate small talk with a burning passion. It drains my will to live and I can feel myself switch off when that part of my brain activates (it's an innate skill, because it was taught at a young age, so I don't have to work at it). Indeed, my circle of friends are people with whom I do not need to small talk with (which is not to say that they can't engage in small talk), which makes my life immeasurably easier.

    Tāmaki Makaurau • Since Sep 2008 • 424 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock, in reply to BenWilson,

    Personally, I found being socially awkward quite distressing as a young teen. It limited my ability to form relationships, particularly with the opposite sex.

    For men.

    For women.

    Just leave copy of these lying around where your kids can stumble across them. Bosh. Job done.

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2401 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd, in reply to Deborah,

    Small talk is in some respects a learned skill, for some of us. However, I'm not sure that it's a skill worth acquiring

    It's one of those interesting skills where being bad at it can be a positive disincentive to further practise. Like falling off the bike so much you can't be bothered learning to ride, or your first attempts at a new instrument making people laugh at you so you are too embarrassed to touch it again.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2973 posts Report Reply

  • Isabel Hitchings, in reply to BenWilson,

    Small talk is learnable. The only real question is: Can you be bothered?

    For me the question isn't can I learn it? Or can I be bothered? (The answers are yes and sometimes respectively). The question is can I do it authentically? And a lot of chit chat involves not telling people what I really think in order to keep things 'nice' and that is very, very wearing.

    Christchurch • Since Jul 2007 • 706 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    The other side of the coin is everyone else learning ways to communicate and build relationships that respect different levels of comfort or proficiency with small talk.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16838 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to HORansome,

    It may be a skill that can be taught but it won't necessarily enrich your life.

    No, that's true. But it's got a high probability of doing so. Maths is much the same. Some people want to die from maths, sure. But of itself, it's a great boon to humanity. Small talk, being the first talk most strangers engage in, and most people being strangers to each other, is up there.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8675 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    recog-ignition...

    ...whether they’re in your ‘Inner Circle’,
    or if in fact you are married to them.

    Or indeed, if they are just a hat
    - and we're not talking de Bono here...

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 5092 posts Report Reply

  • JoJo,

    I really wish supermarkets would stop demanding their check-out staff ask customers "How are you?" "How's your day going?". There have been times when I've been tempted to reach over and shake them for not knowing that someone close to me has died, or I've got the flu, or I'm just in a feral mood. Can't they just say "Hello"? Why ask a question that is close to meaningless. But I don't really consider that small talk - it's more like a faulty greeting.

    I do hate small talk, and can be a quite an introvert. I recently went to a party where three of us sat in a stairway for hours and only talked to each other and the few people who came to join us. I met no new people and only talked to the host for about 3 minutes. Best. Party. Ever.

    Wellington • Since Jul 2008 • 95 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to Isabel Hitchings,

    The question is can I do it authentically? And a lot of chit chat involves not telling people what I really think in order to keep things 'nice' and that is very, very wearing.

    Oh, this.

    My favourite people know (because, basically, I've told them specifically) that I will never flatter them, and if I think they're wrong about something that matters, I'll tell them. And I really hope this means that when I say something positive, they can have absolute assurance that I mean it. And that, actually, can be very difficult to deal with, because we're used to being told that we're attractive or talented or smart in a context where we can shrug it off as flattery, as unauthentic.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4371 posts Report Reply

  • Yamis, in reply to BenWilson,

    I tend to actually enjoy seeing what useful information I can get out of cabbies if they won't shut up. There's so many directions you can take a conversation that aren't their boring hobby horse.

    I don't get many taxi's in Auckland because I'm too broke to go out much on the piss but most of the times I've caught one I've had immigrants from war torn places like Iraq, or the other night Somalia so I'm usually interrogating them about their life there and how they find life here.

    I really should leave them alone.

    Since Nov 2006 • 879 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie,

    Or indeed, if they are just a hat
    - and we're not talking de Bono here...

    No sir.
    de Bono's work never inspired an entire four sitcom seasons about an entire family who mistook a discarded sock for an alien.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 3597 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Joe Wylie,

    ...who mistook a discarded sock for an alien.

    are we talking ALF here ?
    (the link denied access)

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 5092 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    Yup, "Just a sock" Alf.
    The pic's working for me.
    (You're not getting that dodgy DNS server thing by any chance? There's been a bit of it about.)

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 3597 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    The worse small talk starter ever (and one I use distastefully often) is "And what do you do?" How the hell do you answer that? Need to discourage it by answering: “Hand job twenty, blow job fifty, full monty two hundred (with a rubber). No anal, bondage or kinky shit. Especially with shit. Or piss. Or animals. How about you?”

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12052 posts Report Reply

  • stever@cs.waikato.ac.nz, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    One, I believe, of the Queen's favourite lines :-)

    Hamilton • Since Nov 2006 • 58 posts Report Reply

  • 3410,

    ... which largely explains why Craig is yet to be knighted.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 2618 posts Report Reply

  • Yamis,

    What would be some good ice breakers that aren't of the How are you?, What do you do variety?

    What's your favourite position?
    Were you bullied as a child?
    Do you own any sex toys?
    Global warmings all shit aye?

    Since Nov 2006 • 879 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to Yamis,

    Were you bullied as a child?

    Why? Do I look like a politician?

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 3597 posts Report Reply

  • kowhai montgomery, in reply to HORansome,

    You are excellent at small talk it is true, and other kinds of talk. When I am in the zone I actually enjoy small talk (this usually involves wine).

    wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 485 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Yamis,

    Global warmings all shit aye?

    that probably counts at an Act on Campus gathering

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16838 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Sacha,

    Out on the street...

    at an Act on Campus gathering

    I'm guessing that wouldn't be held in a Student Union run space, then....
    And that there wouldn't be a Young ACT Club affiliated at the this uni?

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 5092 posts Report Reply

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