It’s a classic case of both narcissism and doubling down. You want to tell a story that’s meaningful to you — something about a dream you had, a vacation you took or a job you did particularly well, but the person on the receiving end couldn’t care less. And yet, instead of stopping, you push on — more committed than ever. All of which is completely lost on your audience. Not that you’re deterred. THEY JUST DON’T UNDERSTAND HOW GOOD THAT BURRITO TASTED. Our staff is certainly not immune to such self-delusion. But we are just self-aware enough to understand that we’re both narcissists and doubling down on an unwinnable battle.
Nick Leftley, Senior Editor: I have two babies, and they’ve completely taken over my life to the point where outside of work, I have basically nothing else to talk about. So at this point, I assume that everything I say is completely devoid of interest to everyone. But hey, while I’ve got you, do you want to see 83 nearly identical photos of my toddler trying to put on an adorable hat? Oh, you’re busy right now? Okay, well, maybe later? Okay, good talking, bye!
John McDermott, Staff Writer: I recently told my coworkers about a wedding that was by all accounts your typical Catholic wedding. Nothing particularly remarkable happened (other than the couple entering into holy matrimony, I guess), yet I spoke about it anyway for reasons that I can’t articulate or justify.
Also, not wanting to bore people with the minutiae of my personal life is one of the many reasons I quit fantasy football. No one cares, man. No one.
C. Brian Smith, Staff Writer: I was a member of the Whiffenpoofs of Yale, the oldest collegiate a cappella singing group in the world. (I can already tell I’m losing you.) The experience is loaded with stories, which I often find myself telling to anyone who will listen. We toured around the world wearing white tie and tails, sang for princesses, ambassadors, heads of state and so on. Trouble is, zero people under the age of 74 are interested in listening to a story about collegiate cappella. Even I, 15 years removed, am boring myself right now talking about it.
Josh Schollmeyer, Editor-in-Chief: I like to think that I work Chicago into every story I tell out of profound homesickness. But knowing the kind of stock I come from, it’s probably more out of Midwestern piousness. Like, not only am I boring you with another salt-of-the-earth Chicago tale, but I’m also going out of my way to inform you that my salt-of-the-earth Chicago-ness far supersedes any values you might have picked up in your life — or from whatever god-awful (read: non-Chicago) place you originate from. This, of course, does at least bring with it one benefit: I’m probably pissing you off more than prompting you to tune out.
Tierney Finster, Contributing Writer/Editor: I tend to assume everyone is super invested in what I have to say, but my mom totally ignored me the other night as I tried to explain, in nuanced detail, why I don’t love Rachel Maddow as much as she does.
Jeff Gross, Social Editor: I tell “guess you had to be there” stories to people constantly. I don’t know why I continue to do so; I already know the outcome: That subtle look like they’d rather be anywhere else than listening to me drone on about something my friend (that they don’t know) said or did last weekend.
But to me, they’re hilarious, which means I want to tell everyone. And so, I’m doomed: Doomed to keep telling (or, God forbid, re-telling) shitty stories; doomed to know they’re shitty and soldiering on regardless; and doomed to get bug-eyed looks from coworkers and family members for my storytelling ineptitude.
Andrew Fiouzi, Assistant Editor: I’m convinced that most everything I say is something other people don’t want to hear or care about. Which is why I tend to keep quiet. That said, let me tell you something else. Last Friday I was out with a group of people I’d only just met. In such instances, I like to tell a very specific joke. One that I find hilarious, mainly because I’m the only one who ever does. The joke: A skeleton walks into a bar. He orders a beer and a mop.
Listening to the silence wash over a group of people you’ve only just met and who completely and utterly ignored your joke, is sort of like listening to Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony whilst tripping on acid. It’s beautiful until it hurts.
Ian Lecklitner, Assistant Editor: I firmly believe most everyone is too narcissistic to care much about what anyone else has to say, especially frivolous day-to-day stuff. Think about it: How much do YOU care about where your co-workers had lunch the other day, or where your sister went on vacation last month? Most of us are too engrossed in our own lives (or just care more about the big picture) to worry about stuff like that.
I like to use this sort of innate apathy against my friends by messaging them trivial tidbits from my day-to-day life. For example, I’ll text them that I just walked by a small dog, or that I’m doing my laundry. I do this a few times a week, and they almost never respond. It’s the most modern version of what we’re talking about that I can think of.