We Need to Talk.

June 4, 2010

“We need to talk.”

To many, this simple phrase strikes jet black fear into the depths of the soul. It’s a combination of words that quickens the pulse; sets the mind racing; and can deliver one into cold-sweatsville, USA, almost instantaneously.

But… why?

How is it that this seemingly innocuous phrase has become the linguistic kiss of death? Why are we so afraid of what comes after this clause?

And more importantly, why are we so afraid of each other?

Social constructionism is a sociologic concept which seeks to explain human action and interaction within an objective frame. Under the umbrella of this concept, nothing a person does is an isolated action, no action is without consequence, and reality is made up as we experience it.

For the sake of brevity, it’s essence is consensual reality– the idea that the reality we experience is not a fact, but merely the agreed upon understanding of the things those around us see, do, and say.

To bring it out of the conceptual realm, “we need to talk” is a perfect starting block for discussion on consensual reality (no ironic pun intended). This phrase is so greatly feared because we all assume that following these words will be something we do not want to hear. Why?

In everyday conversation, people do not preface their statements with the expressed desire to exchange dialogue. “We need to talk” is a preparational statement. Right away, the discussion becomes out of the ordinary. Right away, the conversation has deviated from standard protocol.

So why even use this phrase? Why not just start talking?

Because disrupting the status-quo is so hard. Usually “we need to talk” is used when the issue at hand is not explosive. It’s a comfortable segue into uncomfortable conversational territory. Often, though, instead of this phrase preparing the other person for a dialogue, it puts them immediately on defense.

Unlike many, however, I welcome others’ need to talk. I open my arms wide to two-way exchange. I revel in our ability to co-create consensual reality, and I’d like my reality to be as cohesive to those around me as possible. Dialogue is arguably the most powerful tool we have for social construction; as direct a line between two people’s brains as is humanly possible.

The major factor here, of course, is that “we need to talk” is a set up for something you feel that the other person will not want to hear, or will not take well. But what is so scary about knowing what someone else really thinks? Are we all so brainwashed and watered down in the PC era that honesty is out of vogue? That we would all rather be lied to?

I, for one, am over it. Over the facade of politeness, over the fear of opinions, over the terror people have toward their emotions. If I want to know someone, I want to know who they really are and what they really believe. If you are my friend, I want to share with you; be on the same page. Without words, we have no way of knowing each other’s thoughts, just assumptions made based on limited knowledge of one another’s social framework. I choose not to live a MadLibs life of fill-in-the-blank; and, no, I’m not “getting the hint.”

I think the root of it is, we are afraid of ourselves. Somewhere along the line, our culture imbued us with this guilt about emotions. An odd discomfort with our own feelings. Society has deemed the cornerstone of our humanity to be awkward, and we are all very quick to deny ourselves the full breadth of what we can experience with one another.

I want essence. Something genuine. I want all the cards on the table because life is too short for mysterious expectations and snowballing situations. Life is too rich to stuff any of it away. I want to build this reality together.

So, yes.

We need to talk.

Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind. [[TheodorSeussGeisel]]


2 Responses to “We Need to Talk.”

  1. BathtubGym Says:

    Great stuff as usual. I’m glad you take the time for writing this. You are a great writer.

  2. hanilol Says:

    Nice article.

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