I've been thinking about the purpose of small talk.
I keep thinking of the image of two warriors who meet in a valley to shake hands. I once heard that that was the origin of the handshake: to shake someone’s hand is to show a stranger you’re not carrying a weapon. You make yourself vulnerable in the interest of having more discussion with this person.
Small talk probably does something similar: You go slow with the stranger; you demonstrate you have nowhere better to go at that moment; you’re willing to spend time without a private agenda and show that you're game for forming a “we.”
Here’s the short video I made this week about small talk. Click on the picture to link to the video:
I started a site for short videos at Tin House Magazine. Click here to visit the blog. We’re publishing a few videos a month. Try it: speak some magic into your iphone. Poof: You’ve got a video. Share it with me.