Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Science of Awkward Silence


So, we’ve all been trapped in that awkward moment where we’re confined in a cramped space with an acquaintance whom we otherwise never speak to.

 It’s the end of the work day, and you hop on the elevator. The doors shake in anticipation of closing, but that’s when you hear it: “Wait! Hold the doors!” Shit! You thought you were in the clear, but no, this day isn’t ready to let you go without one more tribulation.
Wait! I've been sent by the Creators to give you one final test!
Billy the office silly… billy, darts into the elevator as the doors hesitate due to his interference, then close. Silence floods the room in the same way that a 16-year-old’s hose fills a tube sock. What’s the first thing that comes to your mind? Weather.

Me: “I hope the weather stays like this.”
Billy: “Yeah, I heard tomorrow’s gonna’ rain, but the rest of the week’s supposed to be in the 70s.”
Me: “That’s good. I was worried.” Wait, why the fuck would I be worried?
Billy: “Yeah… me too.” Why is this kid so obsessed with weather? Every fuckin’ day.
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 *2 floors pass*
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Me: “What floor you getting off at?” Please don’t say ground floor. Please don’t say ground floor.
Billy: “Ground floor.”
Me: SHIT! “Yeah, me too… I gotta’ go home… to, ah, walk the dog.” Why did I need to tell him that? I hope he doesn’t think I’m making a reference to masturbation.
Billy: Why the fuck is he telling me this? Sounds like he’s going home to jack off. “Oh, cool. What kind of dog is it?” Why the fuck do I care what kind of dog it is?
Me: “It’s a Shiba Inu… It’s a Japanese breed. It looks like a fox.” Ah, shit. What if he knows what that is? He probably thinks I’m insulting his intelligence.
Billy: Does this kid think I’m retarded? Obviously I know what that is. “Wow, never heard of that before.”
Me: “Yeah, he’s got a lot of hair.” Wait, what the fuck? Ah, finally! Ground floor. “Alrighty, then. I’ll see you tomorrow, man.” Ah, damn it! The way I said “man” kind of made it sound like “mom”. Whatever, I’m out of here. Shit… he’s going the same way I’m going. I ALREADY SAID BYE! “Uhh… I got to tie my shoe!” Damn it, why did I yell that?
Billy:  Wow, you’re tying your shoe. Why the fuck you have to yell it? “Alright, cool. I see ya tomorrow.”
Me: “Peace!” Peace? Ah, now I just got to lag behind him the rest of the way.

Now why did I just tell of this dialogue? Shit… I forget. Oh, yeah. Why do we feel the need to fill a void of silence whenever we are stuck with an awkward acquaintance? Why can’t we just ride in complete stillness to the bottom floor with nothing but the sounds of our hearts beating? Wow, that sounded gay.

Anyway, I’ve come up with a hypothesis. It’s not because we fear that they may think we’re strange and anti-social. It’s because our subconscious is jealous. Our subconscious is intimidated by this acquaintance and associates the other being as a rival threat.

We are confined to a condensed area; therefore, there is limited air to go around. Your subconscious sees the opposition breathing air that rightfully belongs to you. Thus, since your subconscious has little influence over your physical actions, it sends signals of anxiety to your brain. It fills your head with a flood of retarded thoughts. The process continues until your brain is so swamped with these random, retarded thoughts of hot dogs, UFOs, and weather that it forces you to alleviate the stress by expressing the thoughts verbally. Fortunately, these thoughts encounter a screen that filters the most rational thoughts from the nonsensical ones which at most times is weather, sports, or how long the week is dragging.

Therefore, the impulse to fill the void of silence with puffery (hyup) is your subconscious forcing you to inhale more oxygen than your opponent to ensure extended life in the case of emergency.

Science and beers.
Paradox

16 comments:

  1. I had a teacher who thrived off these moments. He would intentionally create them, then just stand there and smile.

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    1. She must've really needed that oxygen desperately. That's so sinister and malicious.

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  2. Awkward silences are the best silences though. Not thoughtful silences, or beautiful silences. Awkward ones.

    Consider it a challenge. Make sure you are the last one to talk, or shuffle your feet. And then when the other person gives in and talks first, STILL don't say anything - just stare balefully at them. Soon they'll learn.

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    1. I can't do that. This man I barely now is sucking up all my air. I need to fight him for it!

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  3. For all you know, after he had such a riveting conversation with you, he probably went to a local pet shop to get himself a Shiba Inu pup. I'd like to imagine that he had spent weeks internally debating and torn over what sort of dog he was going to have as a pet.

    -Barb the French Bean

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    1. Well, they are awesome dogs , but they're extremely lazy and feline-ish. Maybe I did give him some influential insight. Or, maybe he still thinks I'm a weirdo.

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  4. And that's why I try and get the other person to talk for as long as possible. That way I just nod my head and listen without having to add any input.

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    1. Oh, it's the best when the other person relentlessly talks, and you don't need to participate in the conversation (or rather monologue) except for the occasional "yep" or "oh, really?".

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  5. Actually I think it is more basal than that...we all fear the elevator falling and killing us and we don't want our last words being something douchey. Like "Oh Shiiiiiit! Kelly Clarkson!!" Or something like that.

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    1. Yeah, when they go to the camera footage to log the last moments of out life, it's going to sound something like this: "The sun is reaally BRIGHT TODAY! HOLY SHIT THE WEATHER WAS NICE!"

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  6. I think i might be an asshole, because I just go the route of not filling the silence, but end a conversation at "hey" followed by bored head nods and eliminate eye contact. Huh, you probably have a few more friends than I do eh

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    1. Nah, I never actually make friends with these people; I kind of just creep them out with my insensate talk about unrelated and personal things.

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  7. Haha, thoroughly entertaining dialogue.

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  8. I thought I was the only one who was awkward about describing my Shiba to strangers. Mine is solid white, so instead of fox, I cleverly say "she looks like an arctic fox." My go-to line, if you will.

    My favorite question from strangers: "Is she part wolf?"

    Yes, she somehow managed to abandon all scientific logic and is the offspring of a very, very small wolf.

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    1. I love the white Shibas. There's both a solid white one and solid black one down the street from me.

      And it's easy to mistake the small size, curly tail, and feline attitude as characteristics of a wolf.

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