I think about The Seven Things You’re Not Supposed to Talk About fairly often. This American Life producer Sarah Koenig’s mother, Mrs. Matthiessen, has seven rules. I’ll put them here, as she says them (although she credits a “French friend” for the first five):
- Never talk about how you slept, nobody cares.
- Never talk about your period, nobody cares.
- Don’t talk about your health, nobody cares.
- Your dreams, nobody cares about your dreams.
- Never talk about money, which Americans do all the time.
- Diet is a very big thing not to talk about.
- [Route talk] is at the top of my list for what you don’t talk about.
It’s because they are boring, mostly. So they are in service of encouraging conversation to be more interesting. I kinda love them. Between all of them combined, far too much conversation circles around these things. I’d way rather be talking about nearly anything else. Tell me about the last playlist you made. Let’s see if we can name all 50 U.S. state capital cities. How are you feeling about Russia these days? What is your favorite theory of why we haven’t seen any other life in the universe?
I’m a little more tolerant of the health and diet stuff, as I sometimes find that interesting. But I agree with her #1. I just immediately glaze over when you tell me about the traffic on the way over here. A broken stoplight? Wow. That must really have been something.
Counterargument—This American Life’s episode trying to find stories to prove Sarah Koenig’s mother wrong: