Polite Conversation- Things You Don’t Discuss

One of things that many of us are taught is that there are certain subjects that you should not discuss with your friends and coworkers and others who are not part of a select group. There are a few things about polite conversation that I find interesting.

There are cultural issues at play here in which you can see that in some cultures it is considered rude to ask someone how much they make or discuss politics with them. In addition to this there are boundary issues in which the famous line “too much information” all too frequently becomes appropriate.

For the heck of it let us use an example of each:

1) Hi Jack, how much do you make? How much did you pay for your house? How can you support your family on one income?

2) Hi Jack. My wife and I had sex last night and I couldn’t believe how loudly I made her scream. Want to know why? I had really bad gas.

For those of you who are wondering, these questions were posed to me at the gym by a man who I know from playing basketball. He is in the acquaintance category meaning that I am not comfortable sharing these things with him or learning about his carnal activities.

I am relatively open about a lot of things, but some people just don’t get it.

However within the blogging world many of the traditional boundaries/social restrictions are lifted. I find it so interesting to see how here in our cyberspace cone of silence we are comfortable talking about so many personal issues. And frankly I also wonder about the veracity of some of these tales. How many really happened and how many have been polished.

Within the realm of polite conversation many have recommended that you not discuss politics with friends or anyone you interact with on a regular basis because of the potential for things to get ugly. That is an area that I don’t worry too much about. I am grateful to have friends who can discuss disparate viewpoints without things going to that ugly place.

I am also grateful that there are people within the blogging world that can engage in these conversations with a modicum of grace. In a post titled Has Old Europe Lost Its Will I uploaded an opinion piece that generated some strong opinions. There were only two respondents from outside the shack and I suspect that there are others who might have wanted to comment but refrained from doing so.

But I’d like to pick on Q from Simply Put for just a moment to say that I appreciate the discussions I have had with him on his blog and my own because he does seem to be not only thoughtful but willing and able to try and discuss various perspectives without feeling the need to go to that ugly place. Moreover the interaction I have had with him has been refreshing because I have felt like he has an open mind.

That doesn’t mean that he and I have always come to a place of mutual agreement, but that it has been easy and ok for us to disagree. I know that I can be aggressive when I am arguing for a particular position and I think that when I feel as if the other person has no interest in a different perspective I can be even more aggressive.

The two finest things about this blog have been the opportunity to learn more about myself and more about others and for that I thank Q and the others who frequent the shack. You make it a more interesting world.

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  1. Chana March 12, 2007 at 6:35 pm

    Jack – you may have hit on the reason why some of us post much less often than we used to (we have more to hide) 😉 LOL!

  2. Jack's Shack July 28, 2005 at 3:07 pm

    Somehow I knew that was coming.

  3. PsychoToddler July 28, 2005 at 2:57 pm

    That’s what I like about your blog 😉

  4. Jack's Shack July 28, 2005 at 2:19 pm

    Hi PT,

    The hit and run is great until you realize that the silly comment you made on is on your own blog. I cop to having done that more than once or twice.

  5. PsychoToddler July 28, 2005 at 1:26 pm

    One reason you have more perceived freedom of conversation as a blogger is the hit and run nature of blogs/comments.

    You can say something idiotic, then click to the next blog.

    I real life, if you laid one of those matzoh balls at a party for instance, you’d be stuck there while everybody stared at you.

  6. Jack's Shack July 27, 2005 at 6:36 pm


    You have locked in to one demographic that does not read my blog, the parents. I have intentionally not included them as I am reluctant to discuss certain things with them.

  7. Amanda July 27, 2005 at 6:21 pm

    i have been grappling with this very notion. should i write about this very awkward date that i had and the inappropriateness of my date’s comments (some quite funny!) regarding him “physically”? the fact that my PARENTS read my blog might give me pause but more so is that idea that no one want to read about this (which may or may not be true) and i might be too inhibited to put it all out there…it would take some stones. 🙂

  8. Jack's Shack July 27, 2005 at 5:13 pm

    Hi Lejend,

    Glad to hear it.


    Since we had interacted on a number of occasions I wasn’t upset or offended by your comments because as I posted I have always had a sense that you are interested in learning as am I.

    I think that there is a lot of potential for growth and isn’t that what life is about.

  9. Stephen (aka Q) July 27, 2005 at 4:27 pm

    Thanks, Jack. And it’s good to know you were getting something out of the discussion too, lejnd.

    I’m particularly glad because I thought I was a bit harsh in my comment on that post!

    We learn most by being exposed to perspectives that differ from our own. That’s just common sense; how much can I learn from someone who thinks just like me?

    I’ve picked up a lot of information from you, Jack, and one day it may culminate in a paradigm-altering insight. That can be an uncomfortable experience, but I look forward to those moments nonetheless.

  10. bornfool July 27, 2005 at 4:06 pm

    I, too, enjoyed the discussions between you two. The discussions were handled with respect and decorum on both sides, which was quite refreshing. I quit reading when things turn ugly.

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