Friday Faves is our weekly blog series highlighting a few select pieces from the REG team’s reading lists. You can catch up on past Friday Faves on the archive

Blah blah blah: the lack of small talk is breaking our brains

Jakkii says: Last week, Anne shared an article on losing our conversational mojo and whether we can relearn the art of small talk. This week, I have a related piece: that lack of small talk is, according to the author, ‘breaking’ our brains.

The monotony of automated dialogue is a common reason people claim to dislike small talk. But Methot says this superficiality is what makes it unique. “It doesn’t require a lot of thought, it doesn’t require a lot of energy, and it doesn’t require a lot of self-disclosure,” she says. The fact that you can start chit-chatting on autopilot makes it easier to acknowledge those you don’t know very well, if at all, and be acknowledged in return. “That brief acknowledgement is really meaningful,” Methot says. “Not because it’s deep . . . but it makes you feel seen.”

I liked the above paragraph as you do hear people say they don’t like small talk. I think, at least in some cases, what people mean when they say they don’t like small talk is that they don’t like the social anxiety they feel about having to make small talk in situations like networking events, rather than the small talk itself.

The article talks about efforts to inject some of the small talk and spontaneity into our digital work lives, admitting though that there are no easy answers to this challenge. It also talks about ways that people are trying to fill the gap of in-person stranger interactions through digital means such as making small talk with people online, such as in comments sections or using social media platforms.

Interestingly, the article does end with the author worrying about having lost her conversational mojo (though she doesn’t use those exact words – pity). It’s a perfect loop back to Anne’s piece last week, and it’s well worth revisiting that one after you’ve read this one.

Read: https://thewalrus.ca/blah-blah-blah-the-lack-of-small-talk-is-breaking-our-brains/

There’s a name for the blah you’re feeling: it’s called languishing

At first, I didn’t recognize the symptoms that we all had in common…It wasn’t burnout — we still had energy. It wasn’t depression — we didn’t feel hopeless. We just felt somewhat joyless and aimless. It turns out there’s a name for that: languishing.

Jakkii says: Ever since covid hit us last year, on a number of occasions I’ve shared articles about the feeling of ‘blah’, issues of focus, and other similar topics. You can imagine, then, why this article caught my attention right away.

Here in Australia, we are of course fortunate, especially as compared to what some other countries are facing. Yet, as is usual, we mostly see what we’re experiencing, and things are a bit of a mixed bag. For the most part, life can seem relatively normal, save for some ongoing restrictions and having to do things like check-in on contact tracing apps everywhere you go. But, of course, things aren’t actually normal – not everyone is back in the office, public transport, in particular buses, in many places aren’t seeing passenger numbers return to where they were pre-covid, and the ongoing threat of a sudden snap lockdown lurks in the background every day.

As this article discusses, identifying and naming our emotions is an important part of managing them. That’s obviously not easy to do if you don’t have a name for what you’re feeling – but when it comes to languishing, now you do. Fortunately, the article also goes on to talk about an ‘antidote’ to languishing, which is suggested to be ‘flow’. You’ve no doubt heard of flow before, but if not, the article describes it this way:

Flow is that elusive state of absorption in a meaningful challenge or a momentary bond, where your sense of time, place and self melts away.

It’s easy to see how that might work – it’s hard to feel like you’re languishing with the world kind of drifting by if you’re highly focused on and absorbed by something, i.e. if you’re in flow. And the best part is, there’s no suggestion that to help you this flow must be in support of a big goal, like work or study or something similar – it can be anything that works for you to get into a state of flow. The author even suggests that sometimes bingeing shows on Netflix can work! The point is to get into the state of flow to help you manage your feelings of languishing, which is a valid and important goal in and of itself. It doesn’t need to be about more.

Hopefully, you’re not currently experiencing that feeling of blah, that languishing. But if you are, or if it comes up in the future, give this article a read (or a reread) to help you name what you’re feeling and try some strategies to overcome it.

Read: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/19/well/mind/covid-mental-health-languishing.html

Friday Fives

Hybrid workplace

Bonus: A brief history of New York offices

Remote work and the digital workplace

Communication, collaboration, engagement, and culture

Community management, moderation and misinformation

Privacy and data

Big Tech

Social media

Extras

 

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A post shared by Memelyn Monroe (@memelyn.monroe)

This is interesting: The most loved typeface in the world

Things that make you go hmmm: The very cute, totally disturbing tale of the American “it” dog

Space: The most stunning space photos of 2021 so far

Podcast: Making Sense #247: Constructing minds with Lisa Feldman Barrett

Friday playlist: Blak Australia

Sydney Business Insights – The Future, This Week Podcast

This week: Apple’s AirTag release raises platform competition issues, and the trend of suburban retrofitting changes what suburbs are for.

Sandra Peter (Sydney Business Insights) and Kai Riemer (Digital Disruption Research Group) meet once a week to put their own spin on news that is impacting the future of business in The Future, This Week.

The stories this week

09:47 – Apple launches Airtags

18:22 – Suburban high streets and the trend of suburban retrofitting

Listen: https://sbi.sydney.edu.au/airtags-and-suburban-retrofitting-on-the-future-this-week/


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