Reader question: What's "small talk" exactly?
Small talk is gossip, chitchat, unimportant chatter, small being the significant adjective pointing to its, well, insignificance.
In terms of the media, all the gossip columns are small talk. They shouldn't be in newspapers but they are, and on television also, as well as over the radio and the Internet. Take gossips about celebrities, for example. Does it really matter if that famous model Loulou (never mind who she is – I'm making it up) frolics with her boyfriend in the sea half-clad in a bikini? I mean, even if "half-clad in a bikini" is a grammatically sound description, why should the public be told about it? Why shouldn't we be told instead more of the important issues such as what all the politicians are saying? Or business scandals, for that matter, or traffic accidents, coal mine explosions or any other natural calamity or bad news.
Well, you got me there. I admit pictures of a half-naked – can I say naked? – Loulou on the beach would beat, say, ranting politicians all day, such being the current state of affairs we're in. I too realize that sometimes small talk is the best talk anywhere in the newspaper, on television and over the radio. So therefore, let's gossip a bit about "small talk" with examples culled from the Internet.
1. from itpub.net:
Small Talk: Who, What, Where, When, Why?
WHY do people make small talk?
There are a few different reasons why people use small talk. The first, and most obvious, is to break an uncomfortable silence. Another reason, however, is simply to fill time. That is why it is so common to make small talk when you are waiting for something. Some people make small talk in order to be polite. You may not feel like chatting with anyone at a party, but it is rude to just sit in a corner by yourself. After someone introduces you to another person, you do not know anything about them, so in order to show a polite interest in getting to know them better, you have to start with some small talk.
2. from USA Today (September 9, 2001):
Small talk, big payoff
They say talk is cheap, but chatting up strangers you meet on business trips is sometimes profitable.
It was for medical equipment salesman Douglas Ruby.
Last November, Ruby struck up a conversation with Rod Ferrand, a seatmate on his flight who turned out to be in a similar line of work. At the flight's end, Ruby and Ferrand exchanged business cards and parted.
It wasn't until June, when Ruby was laid off and looking for work, that he dug up Ferrand's card and mailed him his resume. Coincidentally, Ferrand's company, Merit Medical Systems, had an opening. Ruby got the job, beating out 150 other applicants.
"Don't be scared of talking to strangers," says Ruby of New Orleans. "That guy I met on the plane is now my boss."
3. from Guardian Unlimited (December 7, 2007):
Small Talk with Kelly Dalglish
- It's a dilemma, all right. Finally Kelly, can you tell us a joke?
- OK, so this vampire bat goes back into the cave, and his face is covered in blood, and all the other vampire bats are really, really jealous. So they're asking: "Where did you get that from, where have you been?" And he says, "Come, I'll show you all my secrets", and they fly out and they go over the dark forest, and he says: "You see that big oak tree over there?" The vampire bats say: "Yes", and he says: "Well I didn't."