I’ll Show You What’s New – Monday July 27

2948062648_79be272433 My idea is for everyone to stop saying “What’s new”.  This is to include clever variations like “How’s your summer going” “How are things” and “How’s it hanging”.


There are several problems with this line of opening dialog. First of all, it’s a very confrontational way of socializing. The other person is forced to come up with something clever to say and carry the conversation that you insisted on starting in the first place. Maybe if you had just said hello, you and the other person could have just stood quietly, sipping your drinks and enjoying each others quiet company. Instead, you tackled their knees and stuffed the conversational ball in their mouth.


Second of all, if you are the kind of person who uses the “What’s new” opener you are probably also the kind of person who doesn’t a) really listen to the answer and b) doens’t have anything to say when you get asked the same question. The person will answer with a three minute story about their father getting cancer or their kid winning a science fair, then ask you what’s new and you’ll reply “Oh nothing really”.  You probably resent the person’s good news and feel burdened if they tell you bad news.  That’s assuming you listened past the first three words.


Sometimes when people ask me “What’s new?” I reply “Oh thank god you asked.  I woke up about a month ago with a swollen glad in my groin.  I didn’t think anything of it until about 10 days later, when a huge boil popped up on the back of my leg.  Have you ever seen a really huge boil? No? Well I can assure you it’s not pretty.  (Ugh thanks again for asking I really needed to get this off my chest.)  So, the boil.  I go to the doctor and get into this big confrontation with the receptionist because I don’t want to give my social security number out just so I can get a boil lanced for crap’s sake.  So I’m there yelling at the receptionist, she’s make thinly veiled threats that she’s going to have me thrown out and finally the doctor comes out saying “What the hell is going on here?” so I have to act like it was all a big joke in the first place because I’ve got to get this boil lanced and I don’t want to him to think that it’d be dangerous to have me near a scalpel…” Then I look at the person who by now will either have glazed over eyes or a look of horror on their face.  I’ll say “But I don’t mean to go on and on.  What’s new with you?”


From now on, consider starting conversations like this: “Hey there, nice to see you!”  Then just wait a few moments.  If the other person is struggling to make conversation, have a few topics ready (see: At A Loss For Words).  Then you you can freely criticize people who haven’t gotten the memo.

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  1. Caleb Hanson says:

    I had this conversation just a few days ago with one of those semi-acquaintances you have to make polite convo with, even though you have nothing to say:
    them: “Hey, how’s it going?”
    me: [hating the conversation already] “Not bad, you?”
    them: [nodding like a bobble-head with a bum spring] “I’m good, how are you?”

    I briefly considered continuing this vicious, endless loop just to see how long it would go, and I had a horrifying vision of a sci-fi future where mindless drones in state-made uniforms with the national logo on them have conversations made entirely of premade sentences that mean nothing. So instead I said “I’m stockpiling ammunition for the apocalypse. My stores are almost complete, so I’m feeling pretty good about it.” Over and out.

    A friend told me that Kurt Vonnegut once walked up to her (he didn’t know her at all) and said “What do you think of the Platypus?” That’s how you start a conversation.

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