I have never had a guy approach me in person and go “hi, let’s talk!” and then just stand there with an expectant look on his face. Generally, when strangers have wanted to talk to me, they did it by introducing a topic of conversation.
For some reason, though, dudes online do this all the fuckin’ time. They’ll message me with “Hi! Wanna talk?” and nothing else, and then expect me to completely carry the conversation. It’s bothersome.
Here’s a transcript of an exchange that just happened on FetLife between me and some 18 year old (these guys are pretty much always 18-22; I think the young’uns just have no idea how to have a conversation with someone:
[Subject line: “Hey.”]
Boy: Hey I haven’t talked to you in a while. Or have I talked to you before at all? Anyways wanna talk?
Me [after looking at his profile]: I…can’t remember whether we’ve ever spoken before. Maybe? [Honestly I think this was just a ruse to get me to check him out. But whatever, I’m feeling benevolent. Not benevolent enough to carry the whole damn conversation though; I refuse to scrounge up a topic of conversation when he’s the one who wants so badly to “talk”.]
Boy: You have a lot of activity on here. Your really into it. 😀 [Wow, he actually replied with something I might be able to turn into a conversation. A follow-up question about some specific thing I’ve written would have been better, but okay.]
Me: I like talking about kink and I like having my opinions asked. Also I use FetLife to procrastinate when there’s something else I should be doing but I don’t wanna. [Are you paying attention, boy? I just gave you two openings: you can ask me a kink-related question now, or you can ask me what task I’m currently putting off. Or, of course, you can ask me about literally anything else at all, but my point is, here are two freebies to make it easier for you to get the conversational ball rolling.]
Boy: Well that’s cool. Nothing wrong with doing what you want. 😛 Well I enjoy talking about kink as well. 🙂
[I am tempted to respond with “so talk about it, then.” But I don’t feel like being that mean today. I also don’t feel like spoon feeding this kid a conversation, though – if you’re gonna pull me away from what I was doing with to request a chat, make it worth my while, jeez! – so I just don’t say anything. After an hour:]
Boy: Did I say something wrong?
Me: There was just nothing much to respond to and then I got distracted. If one wants to have an actual conversation with someone, it helps to ask questions and stuff – give them stuff to talk about. But, I am possibly about to have a nap so if I’m silent now, that’s why.
Haven’t heard from him since.
High School Friend has been courting some young’uns online lately and is very much going through the same shit. She’s come a long way since ditching her husband, btw – when she was first separated she was just a giant wall of neediness who’d go all puppydog at any idiot guy who paid her any kind of attention. Now, she’ll be in online conversations with guys like the kid above and ultimately tell him “Yeeeah…this conversation is starting to bore me. How about you try asking me stuff for a while instead of just talking about yourself?”
It’s lovely watching her state her needs and defend her boundaries – like seeing a little baby bird tumble out of the nest and fly for the very first time. And these kids do need to learn proper conversation skills, so hopefully her snark will be a turning point for them. A little epiphany moment.
The fact that a person in their late teens/early 20s even needs to be told that conversations should be a give-and-take is pretty deeply depressing. I thought most people outgrew the whole “monumental self-centredness” thing sometime during early adolescence. Alas, no.