Category Archives: popularity

What’s That Word Again?

OK, so here’s a hypothetical conversation between just the two of us:

‘Did I tell you that thing that happened earlier?’

‘No. What?’

‘Basically what it was, was that there was this guy cycling past…’ and it seems I may have already lost your interest. But don’t worry, I think I’ve worked out why.

Somewhere within the bafflingly vague ‘that thing,’ the lexically lazy double ‘was,’ and the tediously nondescript ‘guy,’ the story will die before it develops any further. It’s not that the event isn’t interesting, its just that by the time I explain how the blind, deaf, and dumb man actually managed to kill the poor cyclist with nothing but a punnet of nectarines and a devilish aim, nobody will be listening. And this is why: a good story teller uses pitch, pace, rhythm, and carefully placed words while the content is surprisingly unimportant. Those of particular talent could captivate a crowded room with how they decided to choose their curtains, while others would be entirely ignored as they retell a truly magnificent event. This is, unfortunately, unavoidable. Although unaware of it, most of us place enormous value on charisma.

Consider this:          Society is full of socially thick, and conversationally clumsy individuals, myself included. We are the population. It is truly an elusive exception to the human rule to be ‘socially adept.’ That is, to be the chap everybody wants to be friends with, to be considered ‘normal.’ And therein lies the problem; what we perceive in people as being ‘normality’ is in fact often extraordinary, while the truly average subsequently adopt a substandard view of themselves. In a world of TV, radio, film and celebrity, the general public has forgotten that we aren’t all supposed to hold every last person’s attention constantly – it’s just physically impossible. At any party you will get those in the bedroom, those in the front room, those in the kitchen, those in the garden, those still at home who didn’t get an invite (but fuck it they didn’t want one anyway), and those lingering around outside, because surely they were supposed to get an invite? The point is, society wouldn’t work without every part of it and not every party-goer can be in the bedroom (apart from in some parts of Sweden, but that’s a different type of metaphor altogether).

So if we say that the basis of a person’s popularity (please note that I dined on that word first so that I could digest and then shit it on to the page), assuming you’re not the kind of bastard who would judge people according to wealth and fashion, is the ability to speak to and make friends, then you can see where the problem lies. Speech is a skill that is resoundingly unaffected by intellect, artistry, logic, and other such concepts. This seems to be why, despite technical brilliance in any field, people often revert to a mumbling spotty teenager in the face of social situations.

The inherent complications of speech originate in the inescapable fact that you have to fashion your words from the immediately available bits-and-pieces buffet your brain serves up to your mouth, and consequently, like a quickly assembled buffet, the words are often under or over cooked and can in no way be combined to make a satisfying combination. People will generally be left feeling politely uninspired.

Like it or not, most of us cannot whip up a lexical banquet, most can’t dazzle with dialect, and most are unable to simply stroll in and woo whoever they fancy. It couldn’t possibly be any other way. Do not feel dejected, however, as I’ve come to realise that this can be a good thing – every cloud and all that.

Us mere normals should recognize that, unlike the very popular, our friends are real, they’re not leeches trying to suckle on society’s popularity-teet. Our friends will still be there whether or not we tell a boring story, and friends like that are worth infinitely more.

So I implore you to join me in a toast for the average, while raising a big middle finger to the popular. I can’t think of any better way to conclude a blog than with another pleasant little hypothetical conversation,

‘Hey, society,’

‘Yes?’

‘Fuck you, you cunt.’

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Filed under popularity, society, speech