1. During the recent rash of holiday gatherings, I was struck by the fact that the first small-talk questions when meeting someone you don’t know seem to always be, “What do you do?” or, “Where do you work?” Other times it’s, “Where did you go to school?” or, “What neighborhood do you live in?” These are all questions about your status. Why do we in America identify ourselves by our jobs?
2. When I lived in Europe, the first questions were always about my family’s origins, or what I thought about a certain topic or the city that I was in, or if I had seen such and such play, or if I knew the writings of such and such. These were questions about who I am rather than what I am. Isn’t that curious?
3. Is there a difference between how we define ourselves as Americans and how people in other countries and cultures define themselves?

Something Else: Better Small Talk

Apparently there is a way to improve the kind of small talk we have. A Google search of “better small talk” alone leads to 9.33 million hits. Seems like a lot of effort for something that apparently doesn’t do much to make us happy.