Blogpost # 867     A EULOGY FOR “SMALL TALK”

It was only recently, that we were, suddenly, startled with the realization that for quite some time, the universally, ageless, social convention, commonly, designated and evaluated as “Small Talk,” has long been non-existent and, unhappily, been laid to its final rest. This genre of significant, regular, yet, completely, undervalued interaction, is, we feel, much deserving of needed, enlightened, recognition. Small talk plays a subtle and existentially, stabilizing and normalizing role in a free, functioning society, yet, has universally and thoughtlessly, been undervalued, as an essential item of societal function or, more often, instinctively, deprecated.

Our perception concerning “small talk” is, indeed, far more profound, than a mere nostalgic longing, regarding the recollection of such routine, expression of mundane, or, perhaps, meaningless, vocabulary, but, rather, of the metaphysical basis and societal function of the mundane routine, per se, as to its significant, functional value in the assurance of societal stability,  by its dynamics, relative to individually, nuanced, inter-personal recognition.

The general and expected, lack of substantive importance of the content in such common exchange of routine, often, meaningless, vocabulary, often accompanied by familiarly-known nuanced, gestures, does not, relevantly, mitigate our basis for ascribing societal importance to these common, linguistic exchanges, the content of which is,  aptly categorized as “small talk.” However, far more significant, than such regularity of exchange of routine words and familiar gestures, the universal practice has demonstrated, much pragmatic and societal value in its, unfailing, mutual assurance of identity and relationship of the involved parties, and their reassured identity of place and situation. The procedural reality of the regularized routine (of meaningless, “small talk”) has substantive, societal assurances and benefits, irrespective of the conceded, usual lack of profundity of the message.

We find ourselves obliged, to add, this one more, supplemental, societal downside to the digital revolution, by our objective, empirical, observation, that “small talk” is not, properly, or practically, suitable or convenient, for digital interaction. Aside from small talk’s, functionally, important, socially expected, exchange of gestures and words (the latter, albeit, usually, meaningless) it, nevertheless, accrues the benefits of ratification and assurance of identity. Yet from a practical and logistic analysis, the use of the smartphone and the digital route, in general, would seem to be inappropriate, even, bothersome for such transmissions as, “How be ya?” “Gonna rain,” “Is Frank home?” or “Nice day, isn’t it? “Hot enough for ya?” “You are early today” and the like.

The purported, magnificence of the exponentially, increasing (improving?) Digital Age” has rendered, extinct, all socially, confirming, “small talk,” as it has, tragically, and similarly, succeeded (see earlier essays) in supplanting, uncountable, communicatively, interactive, humanistic, practices of Man, exchanged for the inexpressive, insularity and impersonality of popularly favored, considerations of computer efficiency.

-p.

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plinyblogcom

Retired from the practice of law'; former Editor in Chief of Law Review; Phi Beta Kappa; Poet. Essayist Literature Student and enthusiast.

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