Last night I was at a party. We were watching movies. Dirk was there. He was unimpressed by these movies and kept talking over it, as he does with a lot of things. He kept loudly saying what he thought should happen next instead of the actual movie plot and laughing at his own jokes. And everything he talked about, every question he asked about which actor played what character where, he looked up on his phone and announced to everyone.
I always thought it was proper form to keep volume tame when talking during movies in someone’s home so people could easily balance their attention. I always thought that questions were more fun to find the answers to when people jogged their own memory, or when questions were kept rhetorical. Apparently I’m behind the times on social norms and party etiquette. Every question must be answered right away, and it must be answered by the loudest asshole in the room with a phone.
There’s something missing in my soul if that doesn’t appeal to me as constructive bonding in social situations. There’s also a giant gap for my lack of love for Apple, but I’ll spare a righteous rampage about smashing the system. Before the movies started when another one of my friends talked about how much he likes the things he owns and how better they are than what he had previously, I couldn’t help but boil up a slight grudge on the topic. I see the value things like iPads have in people’s lives, if they want to sit in front of the TV while playing games or reading stuff online and have something larger than a one-bedroom apartment so there’s no desk in their living room. But the convenience factor of being able to look up answers (well, “answers”, as this is the internet) to any question stumbled upon in conversation seems like a buzz kill.
Am I alone in thinking conversation is dying from people’s habit to search Google for the answer to every question that comes up?
Grandma Simpson: [singing] How many roads must a man walk down before you can call him a man?
Lisa: No, Dad, it’s a rhetorical question.
Homer: Rhetorical, eh? Eight!
Lisa: Dad, do you even know what “rhetorical” means?
Homer: [incredulous] Do I know what “rhetorical” means?!
In the quote above – yes, I did search Google for the exact text, but “Do I know what rhetorical means?!” comes from the top of my head. In conversation (that is, not writing at a computer) that’s as far as it should have gotten…by my standards, which are apparently out of date.
I’m rare, I guess, in my desire to keep things unknown for a while. Let questions sink in. Let us bond over contemplation instead of finding the answer somewhere else as soon as possible. Let us remember those questions later and focus on continuing the conversation where it goes, with the people around us.
Let us carefully select how much we socialize with people who need to JFGI all the damn time.