For all of you with crippling social anxiety like myself – just kidding, I don’t have crippling social anxiety, I just hate talking to people – here are a few conversation starters, sure to wow and impress your fellow party-goers / dinner companions.
Syrian Refugee Crisis:
Just because you listened to a feature on NPR, doesn’t mean you’re an expert on the topic. No one is. Even if you ready every single Humans of New York caption. Maybe your crazy great uncle who watches too much Homeland and thinks that every Middle Eastern foreigner screams terrorist flips the table on you when you say that hey its kinda cool that the state of Washington opens its arms to refugees and weed-loving transplants within the border.
Level of potential divisiveness – 8 (AKA hope you’re 5 drinks deep so maybe you forget people’s opinions on this because things can get awkward)
That same crazy fucking great uncle probably is all about making America great again… whatever the fuck that means. If you have a Trump supporter in your vicinity during your Holiday festivities, you should probably let them just spout whatever shit they want to and/or avoid this person like the plague. If they’re anything like their fearless leader, they’ll talk to anyone about anything, like a fucking bag of wind. Do yourself a favor and avert – you can turn on the TV at any given time and watch some news story about some stupid thing Trump said, anyways.
Level of potential divisiveness – 5, but who cares because any Trump faithful is evangelical about letting people know their a huge dickwad.
If you’re in the Bay Area, this topic can get REAL hairy, REAL quick. If you’re drinking at The Patio downtown Palo Alto with some friends, its most likely (99.9%) that SOMEONE you’re chatting up / in your close proximity is a Facebook employee / knows a Facebook employee / is a ride-or-die for Facebook, so watch yourself. Yeah, giving birth to a mega-heiress this year (by “giving birth” I refer to his wife, Priscilla, not Zuckerberg, because thats what women do of course) put an actual human face to the Facebook overlord, and donating 99% of his shares made him a real-ass philanthropist, however you know the Zuck-haters are still hating strong. Sure you can say, yo, that photo of Zuckerberg changing his daughter’s diaper got so much attention, but like would it be the same if it were a photo of Priscilla changing a diaper? A word to those that see through Zuckerberg: maybe keep it on the DL if you’re conversing with the tech / Silicon Valley crowd. If you think Trump lovers are resilient, these guys are INDESTRUCTIBLE.
Level of divisiveness: 9, so maybe keep it surface level like, “OMG this Instagram is going to get as many likes as the Zuckerberg pregnancy announcement!”
When I checked my bag in for my flight, the woman asked, “Do you have any explosives, liquids, flammables, or hoverboards in this bag?” (real question though: does anyone ever answer yes?) The fact that HOVERBOARDS have to be added to the TSA/airline security vocab / script shows what a disgusting world we live in. Everytime I see someone on a hoverboard I think of that scene at the beginning of Wall-E, you know the one. The morbidly obese people are just wheeled around from place to place. WOW this is the world we live in.
Level of divisiveness: 1, if you actually try to defend the hoverboard and cite “cool factor” or “practicality,” get the fuck outta here.
So maybe you’re watching the Cowboys v. Bills and you’ve run out of things to talk about with your old friends at the bar and someone’s like “So Greg Hardy, huh?” GREAT conversation opener, IMHO. Right away, you’ll know which of your old classmates turned out to be real bad seeds when you find out they’re a Greg Hardy apologist. Yes, of course, domestic violence – any violence, is not a joking matter. But the sole fact of Hardy playing most Sundays leads to the bigger conversation of NFL’s inadequacies. Is Jerry Jones’ senile? Is Roger Godell inherently flawed? Yes on both counts. If you’re lucky enough, this conversation opens a MYRIAD of doors to other NFL-related conversations:
- Larger conversation about domestic violence (wow really heavy for some simple bar talk so maybe avoid that)
- Will Smith’s Concussion movie; general NFL concussion-talk and player safety (again, another heavy topic but very topical)
Level of divisiveness: 3, I think everyone can agree Greg Hardy is an asshole (unless you’re in the company of Hardy apologists), the rest of the NFL controversies are up for grabs though.
Generic Personal Life Questions:
- How is work/school/life going?
- Do you have a significant other?
- Why are you single?
- Have you heard how *insert successful friend/family member* is doing?
- What’s your Myers-Briggs personality type?
Ask any of these to be the asshat of the party.
Level of divisiveness: 10, No one likes answering any of these questions.
This is the greatest conversation starter / prolonger / ender. Go chat up your Aunt Kathy who always signs her emails, “God Bless!” about Jesus conspiracy theories. Or better yet, engage your Catholic middle school friends in a conversation about how you can be closer to Jesus in 2016. I’ll go ahead an predict, this is a GREAT idea.
Level of divisiveness: 5, afterall, Jesus is the reason for the season (depending on who you ask, I guess.
Phrases to continue the conversation (without having to do so yourself):
- Tell me more about that…
- How does that make you feel?
- So what you’re saying is (reiterate what they just said)…
- How so?
- Why is that?
- Maybe you’re taking that too personally, don’t you think?
Just some advice… do with it what you will. Happy Holidays.