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Adults Who Ask Too Many Questions



This is a rant. It's about adults. Not adults like me, but adults much older than me who have some life experience and know what they're doing, and thus think nothing of the consequences on my psyche when conversing. Granted, I do know adults who have their life together--solid job, living on their own--but most of my complaints are coming because of even older adults.


It's about conversation. And while I definitely dislike small talk, it's unavoidable. And while I'm learning how to ask small-talk-like questions that are actually meaningful, the same usual small talk queries are addressed to me whenever I meet new adults.


The questions are simple: "What did you study in college?" and "What do you do?" (The latter meaning jobs and money, not in life in general in your free time. More on that later.) I understand that my answers are in my control. I'm living at home and underemployed. I believe in responsibility and accountability, and I hold myself to my societal shortcomings. Though adults are always kind in talking about the troubled economy and job market. But it falls to me. But what falls to them are the questions. Why ask things that remind me of my shortcomings?


I understand it's easy, but even after that topic has been breached it remains the point of conversation. It's not like it's a lead in to other interests. Small talk like this would be so much better if we focused on, say, hobbies. "What do you do?" "Oh, I build LEGO creations and collect comic books." And there is so much conversation to be made going on from there. People are enthusiastic about their passions, and it allows the other person to continually ask questions and show/feign interest. And even if the job question has come up, my working in a bookstore is such a great lead for a deeper conversation about books. Everyone (mostly) reads! What isn't there to talk about in the world of books?


Until such ends are met, I will just have to live with my problems, work harder in any job, and steer the conversation into something more favorable.


Now, I know I have plenty of friends also living at home and not working in their field of study at school (if they even went to college). And I also have friends that are adulting better than I am either by making enough to move out yet remain underemployed or actually making a career out of their interests and studies. So I ask: What problems has everyone encountered? What have you done until better options came along? What kind of comments have been received; what kind of answers were given? And what is the best way to bear with the unbearable smalltalk?


-CF :kakama:


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Devil's advocate: not everyone has hobbies (or at least hobbies they're comfortable talking about upon first meeting people).  Additionally, while knowing a person's education and employment prospects may not tell you what kind of person they are or what their interests are, it does give you a fairly good understanding of their place in society and by extension, their probable socioeconomic status and political views.  This knowledge allows you to swim safely about in the realm of small talk without creating a social disturbance or appearing too standoffish.


I agree, though.  Small talk is silly, but most strangers unfortunately don't want to talk about parallel universes or how the world might react if it were discovered that the Ancient Egyptian religion was real.


Everyone would just be scrambling to build pyramids!  Surgeons and medical examiners would be booked for months trying to take people's organs out and --  What's that?  Oh, you left something in your car?  Weird, that's like the third person at this party who's told me that.

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Most of those "small-talk" adults want to show off what they know about whatever subject the younger person is doing at any given time. 


I just tell them that I'm a web designer and start rambling about how hard it is to get a web design education. 


Most adults I know about know nothing about web design. They usually decide that they have nothing to talk to me about and leave me alone. :D


Not everyone has this luxury. But if you want to talk about Lego design, say that you're trying to do that. Or if you're truly devious, learn about a variety of subjects and pick the one the person in front of you knows nothing about. 


As for me, I'm still working on life - parents, financial difficulties, the works. But I'm still working on getting some money. It's rough, but I'll get though. And a lot of people don't get that, because they want results in a snap. I wish for this too, but it doesn't happen. So you might want to tell the small talkers to be patient. Eventually life will get more full. 

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What I'd give to be underemployed. For now, I'm totally unemployed, and hesitant to put my self out there into the job market once again. I can only handle so much rejection, and my résumé isn't exactly getting much MORE attractive as the months wear on.


Anyway, I mostly stick to hobbies and half-truths: "I'm currently reviewing sets for a Lego blog," or the noncommittal "I'm kind of between jobs." At worst, they usually smile, nod and walk away.

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I tell them I study astrophysics (which I do). They generally don't know how to respond. :P


If they do, it's usually either a question about the difference between astrophysics and astronomy, or a comment on some recent discovery, in which case I take the opportunity to correct all the misconceptions they've picked up from incompetent media. Occasionally, they ask about astrology, which they shortly regret doing.


Mastering small talk is all about making the other person ask questions that aren't directly about you, which can lead into a more interesting discussion - "What exactly is a black hole?" "What would happen if an asteroid hit Earth?" "Did you hear about the Pluto thing?" "I'm a Capricorn." Sigh...


But to be fair, life was in many ways easier for middle-class people who grew up a few decades ago (our parents' generation, not our grandparents'). University was cheaper and often easier, it wasn't as difficult to get a job, etc. So, when asking us youngsters about where we are in life and not being impressed with the answer, they forget that things are different for each generation.


Also, someone who's had a stable life for many years or decades often forgets that there were a few years after high school when they, too, didn't know what they were doing either.



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