This past Saturday night, my friend Luca and I quietly stood on the sticky floor of a house party kitchen as our other friend, Lucas, joined a gut-wrenchingly predictable conversation, starting with the discovery that he and another girl both lived in Markley.
“A thousand slight variations on this exact conversation are happening all around this campus right now,” Luca leaned into me and remarked. I laughed, partly because it was true and partly because I couldn’t believe I hadn’t had the same thought before. “How about we just go up to people and say ridiculous things and see how they react?” I proposed. He enthusiastically laughed, egging me on.
But I didn’t do it. Why not? Well, I froze up on thinking of things to even say to people. I’m just not accustomed to thinking of specific topics on the fly like that. Realistically, I’m just far too shy to do this anyway.
That’s a shame. Going out at night, we hope for dance floor glory, engaged conversation and thrills and spills that we won’t soon forget. We see images on Instagram, Facebook and Tinder that serve to capture these moments and briefly summarize the night. But lately, it has become increasingly obvious to me that a lot of posts I see are mere “I’m still here!” attention grabs.
“I don’t like posting the next day unless I actually had fun that night,” my friend Natalie told me on the subject. I agreed, though my posting is inconsistent regardless of how much fun I have while out. What one can be sure to see on Instagram, however, is the same group of two or three gals cuddled up next to each other on elevated platforms during game days, even though each one of them has specifically told me how much they hate tailgating.
Let’s be more real with ourselves! Small talk is small talk: It has always existed and always will in classrooms, office settings, house parties, etc. It’s bite-sized in how much it communicates, but it’s necessary. But let’s not let that translate into social media, too. Social media should be less about artificially checking in with our friends through our likes and comments, and more about those rare times when you really stop at a post and think to yourself, “Hey, I actually want to know how this person is doing.”
Likes and comments can be a real rush and posting often will only cause your followers to proliferate, but what social media is really about is keeping friendships that transcend the barriers of time and space. Think of the power that comes with turning off “read receipts.”
There’s no doubt that social media presence is invaluable for modern day influencers, but what are you really influencing when you constantly post pictures with nothing more than emojis and relatable slogans? Social media is meant to be for friends. Let’s not force ourselves to do any more small-talking than we have to.