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There seem to be two kinds of people in the world. News, I know; there are whole systems built around various differences between people. The one most recently pointed out to me, though, doesn’t seem to have a place in the major personality groupings I’ve looked into.

At my wedding reception, my new siblings sat me down at a table, to get to know me better. (Due to distance, most of them hadn’t met me before that day.) The youngest led by asking what my super power would be. The fact that I responded immediately, without questioning their sanity, impressed them. The fact that my answer was slightly off the beaten path led one to declare me a keeper. It has taken me several years to learn why anyone would have considered that odd.

What do you talk about? Face to face, my conversation topics aren’t that different from what I post here: computers, games, things I’ve learned, perhaps science or politics. Part of this is from forming a long-term relationship over Mythbusters and conversations about music, but part of it seems to be innate. I graduated high school without having learned the purpose of small talk.

For some people, small talk is life. It’s what relationships are built on. It’s how they get to know each other. By discussing minute points of who said what and who did what to whom and what that might have meant, they form the intricate web of shared expectations upon which society is built.

That makes someone like me hard for them to figure out. I’ll talk about what’s on my mind, given a reason to start, but details of my relationships aren’t there. I share my opinion on a broad range of topics, but not frequently about other people. I explain what I understand, but not usually what I expect of someone. To another topic-oriented person, that can make me easy to deal with, but a relationship-oriented person can find me closed off and indecipherable. I (and my father, for that matter) have been known to frustrate people who pride themselves on being able to talk with anyone.

On the flip side, I find relationship-oriented people boring. I have nothing to contribute to such conversations, and rarely learn anything useful from them. I would rather discover something fascinating about the world than discuss your dating life. Asking for my birthday feels more threatening than friendly, unless I have good reason to trust you.

Yet I can have good relationships with topic-oriented people, no matter the topic. We can teach each other, discovering likes and interests, sharing the wonders of the universe. We bond over ideas and experiences, building trust by demonstrating sound reasoning and reliability.

The internet, I must say, has been a great boon to my kind of people. No matter your interest, there are thousands of people willing to discuss it with you. Just find the right place, and you can form relationships with people you will probably never meet. There are also, I am told, countless millions discussing minute details of their relationships on all sorts of social sites, but the feeds and forums I read are all based on topics.

Which is probably why my Facebook status is six months old.

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Written by eswald

28 May 2013 at 10:22 pm

Posted in Lifestyle

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