A lot of people in my life have been getting on my case lately – from my boyfriend to my coworkers to my best friends, everyone has been calling me out about how I act when I’m in new social situations, and it’s getting a little tiring. It’s not like I call people names, or make fun of them. I’m not cruel, I’m not even rude, I’m just completely unwilling to make conversation in order to be polite.
Honestly, what’s so rude about that?
To me, small talk is a waste of time that could be spent talking about something deeper or exploring someone’s personality on a more intimate level. I want to know what makes people tick, what they think about politics and art, how they see the world. And while some people may see my blatant avoidance of even trying to even say “hello” or “how are you” with those I’ve just met in a space I’m brand new to as “disrespectful” or even “socially inept”, I refuse to buy in to what society has laid out as the bare minimum of social niceties. It’s not because I’m impolite, I just don’t see the point in being nice for no reason. You know? I’m just operating on another level.
Sure, when I met my roommate’s softball teammates at our housewarming party I didn’t even attempt to ask any of them where they were from or what they did for a job and actually just stood there, aloof, staring at them blankly and hoping someone would start spontaneously talking about philosophy or gender politics with me without any provocation. Also, when my boyfriend introduced me to his family and I abjectly denied them the opportunity to ask me about where I went to college and how I met their son and instead chose to sit quietly at the dinner table waiting for the discussion to evolve into an engaging roundtable about the collapse of late capitalism, my boyfriend wouldn’t speak to me on the train home. We broke up, but obviously it was for the best. He had zero interest in talking about anything that really matters.
Look, I’m not going to undermine my intelligence by making courteous, neutral conversation with people who are earnestly trying to get to know me.
Truly, I do care about making a good impression when I’m starting a new class or at a networking event for work or even just waiting in line somewhere. But if that means I have to chat about the weather or what some famous person said or the relatable, everyday stressors that all humans have to experience and can be made easier by commiserating, I reject it. I’d rather stick with my tactless, off-putting refusal to make even the bare minimum of polite conversation. I’m not being rude, at least according to me!