I almost tweeted that I was making myself a BLT for lunch today. But I didn’t.
I thought of all those people (mostly people who’ve never actually used Twitter) who have made comments to me about how they don’t understand why people would want to know what they had for lunch or feel the need to tell others about it. The people that I usually try to persuade that Twitter is about so much more. The ones I tell about how it replaced my RSS reader (and they stare blankly because they don’t know what RSS is). The people I tell that way more important stuff is communicated and relationships are fostered in this 140 character format.
But, then as I was slicing tomato and waiting for the bread to toast, I thought – damn it. Why should I not tweet about lunch? Those who say self-rightously that they have more important things to do and no interest in this content are lying.
Yes. I said it. You’re lying if you say you have no interest in the lunchtime tweets of your friends, family, coworkers and complete strangers.
How do I know this? Well, there’s your fascination with housewives in New Jersey, drunk kids thrown in a house together, people who have messy houses or dress like slobs, the football player trying to ballroom dance, the cake baker trying to move their masterpiece to a judging table without it crashing, the woman in sensible shoes singing to the world, and the classic video of a guy getting nailed in the twigs and berries.
Don’t see yourself in that group of reality TV watchers? Then how about a little scientific research to persuade you?
I believe lunch tweets fall into the category of small talk – scientifically defined in one research project as “those utterances used in any environment that serve a social function but do not contain specific cognitive or communicative content.”
According to the study that definition came from, approximately one-third of all communicative utterances can be classified as small talk, with 50 to 60 percent of those utterances being unique, that is not used more than once. Not many people send a tweet every day that says the same thing like “I’m eating lunch in by cube,” although I admit I do eat lunch in my cube most days.
This type of conversation is important to us, though. “Small talk provides us with lots of information, and helps us to ‘read the atmosphere’. With small talk we probe the human terrain,” explains Viveka Adelswärd, linguist, professor emeritus and author. And to navigate that terrain, we all need to warm up with small talk to establish a rapport before we move on to big talk – or in the case of a business using social media, you have to build the relationship before you ask for the sale.
Or, ask Dan Lentz Director of the Small-Group Network who says “Deep things rarely come out if you don’t start in shallower water first.”
I’ll leave off with a quote that Dan referenced and I agree correlates to this small talk topic:
“If you don’t talk to your children about the things that don’t matter, they’ll never talk to you about the things that do. You’ve got to talk to them about what somebody wore to school today and this silly movie or this sitcom or just what might be going on in their day that’s not of any particular gravity but you’re opening the channel, you’re opening it for flow. And then when it comes time that they really need to talk to you about something, they don’t feel awkward about it because you talk with them all the time.” -Jay McGraw, “Meet the Press,” Sunday, December 26, 2004