How do you Break a Social Contract…Or….If I Ignore you will you Ignore me?

Posted: March 13, 2013 in Humor, lifestyle, society
Tags: , ,

I am all for community and day to day pleasantries and all around niceties that go along with being good to your fellow human…But do we really have to talk to each other?

On the surface I am a people person. I am very social at gatherings or events. However deep down I am not sure I am that fond of people. As a whole they annoy me. I like my family well enough and my friends I have acquired over the years are pretty good too (actually some of the friends I think by now are only friends by default because I have known them so long, and am too lazy to make new friends. Because really, I can only have so many friends, and probably stopped making news ones years ago.) It is the day to day menial conversations with strangers that are starting to bug me. Why are people so afraid of silence? Can two people not stand in close proximity to one another and ignore the other’s existence? What is wrong with that?

How many times a day does a random stranger strike up a conversation with you about the weather? It is 11am as of this writing and 4 random people have made comments to me about the weather (This is made more irritating by the fact that I am in Canada and it is March, which is by far the most unpredictable month of the year. So unpredictable that science has yielded the month of March to be fought over by lions and lambs). Obviously I never start these asinine conversations, but I have to wonder about the other person who instigates them. Are they like me and are also going to have the same conversation sixteen times today? Are these just the people that are afraid of silence because maybe they were locked in the closet as a child if they spilled their fruit loops or forgot the words to a Hail Mary? Or maybe they actually have something to get off their chest, and I am an acceptable receptacle for venting. If the former is the case then they have obviously yet to learn how to efficiently segue from their spiel on the weather to their true confession and should probably invest some time in coming up with a new introductory topic.

I am not sure when a smile and nod stopped being enough to satisfy our urge to connect with our fellow humans. I can understand hundreds of years ago when people travelled on horseback or in wagons, you might not see another soul for days on end, and upon encountering one you might be more inclined to stop and visit and discuss the weather or other crucial topics of the day. In this much more solitary time I can more easily grasp the need for human connection. If only to feel out the other party to see if you are in danger of being raped and pillaged or to see if there is a chance to take part in some raping or pillaging yourself. Nowadays we are surrounded by people constantly, can’t we just all just get our coffee in peace?

The other day I was standing in line for coffee. The gentleman behind me starting talking, it took me a minute to realize he was talking to me. I was in the middle of reading a text. I wasn’t even fake playing with my phone to ignore people (Don’t deny it, you do it to. It is the best use of a cell phone). The man made a comment to me about another younger man and how he disapproved of his wardrobe. I thought said man’s wardrobe was a little ridiculous myself. Has your waist moved down to your knees? Even rappers don’t wear baggy pants pulled down passed the point of rational thought anymore. Probably because they saw hundreds of young white boys doing it and realized – “Shit, they are on to us. Let’s start wearing suits, that will really fuck them up”.

While I may have agreed with the man standing in line with me, I didn’t understand his reasoning. Was he starting his own clothing judgment committee and enlisted me as judge number two? Don’t I need need to sign some kind of work agreement for such a position? Or at the very least give verbal consent? Why would he assume that I would share his beliefs? I should have turned around and said:

“Well sir, that happens to be my mentally challenged brother, and we are letting him dress himself to increase his confidence and self worth. I do not appreciate or condone your ignorance or intolerance.”

Instead I responded same as I had a minute earlier to the woman asking my opinion of the weather : “Yep.” That is just easier, and I could go back to finish reading my text.

I quit smoking almost a year ago. (Hold for applause…..) The greatest benefit of this is that I have cut down on the amount of people I have to talk to. Whenever you go out for a smoke, there are other smokers who assume because you also smoke all of your values and beliefs are completely in line with theirs. It is like these are secret meetings smokers hold where they get together and trash the rest of the world. After spending a five minute smoke break with a stranger I would be qualified to write a biography of them and their storied family history. This is not why I smoked, but quitting and avoiding these meetings has been a far greater benefit than warding off cancer, re-growing taste buds or not having to endure angry glares by joggers.

Something has to change. I need to stop indulges these people. I am going to do one of two things the next time someone decides to wreck a perfectly good silence. Either I am just not going to play anymore. I won’t fake play with my phone, or pretend I am a deaf mute. I will just stare at them until they feel uncomfortable and walk away.

Or two, I am going to play. And I am going to win. You want to talk? Ok, we are going to talk. I am going to start carrying around folding chairs strapped to my back, so when someone wants to start up a dialogue I can throw down those chairs. We can sit down and have a nice long discussion. We are not going to talk about the weather. We are going to talk about how it was a travesty that Michael Biehn was killed off even before Alien 3 began; Or where to find the second warp whistle in Super Mario 3. I would like to hear their opinion on what is killing my grass on the north-eastern part of my lawn. I will go on at great lengths about the injustice that was done upon me when I lost out on the English award in my final year of high school to the foreign exchange student from Bangladesh.

Eventually, word should get out about me. They will whisper in the shadows about my legend. School children will tell tales of my existence to frighten their classmates. Campers roasting marshmallows will debate my existence. I will be referred to at dinner parties and town hall meetings as the ‘Folding Chair Conversationalist’. People will be instructed to avoid me at all costs for their own safety and sanity. They will run, not walk across the street dodging traffic and certain death just to avoid that fateful meeting with me.

As I walk down the streets, chairs criss-crossed on my back the crowds will part for me. People will look down, try and find something, anything to read, fake sign language with their friends or desperately grasp for the their phone, anything to avoid eye contact. I will think to myself ‘mission accomplished’ as I enjoy the sweet sounds of silence.

Thanks of indulging me.

– Jason
Follow @gskewedview

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