The question for me is why we focus on celebrities and sports figures for conversation’s sake.
While PTN is right about such persons being “ephemeral and essentially worthless,” note that most of the people we know immediately and gossip about meet that criterion too.
The key to seeing what’s wrong and right with the post is this part:
Why not talk to people about themselves? That’s everyone’s favorite topic, and it has the bonus of allowing you to actually get to know the person instead of just what s/he thinks about Paris Hilton.
The issue is “Why talk about anyone else at all?” I think, generally, it is at times when we talk about ourselves the most that we talk least about ourselves in any way that is substantial. Yes, that’s right, I’m saying what you think of Paris Hilton might be more important than you talking about the cancer research you’re doing.
I mean, truth be told, most people are boring. Couples have to have friends in common so that way they can sit around and appraise them and talk to each other about what everyone else should be doing. Add to this that we’re not terribly good listeners, either – anything worth knowing usually has to be repeated and thought through, and that takes time, not just the moments one has at a party. Finally, talking is hard, and even those of us good at making conversation are inconsistent at times. No artist is perfect.
I think it’s good we have useless celebrities and people hitting each other for money around, so that way we can say lame things that have immediate cultural/social currency without having to strain ourselves. Getting someone to open up is another complication I haven’t addressed: you can be the best conversationalist in the world and feel like pulling teeth in most social encounters. Whereas I know from asking some girls about Paris Hilton, who admitted that they “admired” Paris – I’m serious here – that no matter what they were doing to save the world, I was in a better position not talking to them at all.
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