Talking to people

Talking to people is a strange dance. Not so much an exchange of information as a series of veiled threats lobbed back and forth. “Are you alright?” means something like: “Your behaviour is not normative enough, shape up now or you’ll be punished with social rejection.” A lot of things mean that, actually. It’s probably not what the speaker intended – intentions are murky, and 95% of the time if you ask someone why they said a particular thing at a particular time they genuinely don’t know, they were just speaking out of habit, out of a knee-jerk reaction that bypassed the conscious parts of their brain – but nevertheless that is the true meaning from the hearer’s point of view.

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