You are probably familiar with the following situation if you are British or live in the UK.

You end up, for some reason, having to talk to someone you only really vaguely know, maybe they are doing the same course as you but you do not have classes together, or work where you do, but different shifts or a different department. The situation requires you to spend a significant amount of time – ten minutes or more – talking about every single one of the few things you have in common and at the end, the other person warmly taps your arm and says, we should totally go for a coffee soon. A week later, you pass each other in the corridor, and they do not even say hi. Or you send them a Facebook message inviting them to a fun party or a film screening but they do not open it for five days.

If you are thinking right now, how fucking fake is this, you are right. It is. It has taken me quite a long time to grow accustomed to this sort of social dynamic, especially, that as a newcomer to the country with no pre-existing social network, I would have been really quite grateful if someone sincerely invited me out for coffee. Some people did, of course, but they were not the ones, who, like in the situation mentioned above, were theatrically enthusiastic about talking to me, as if I was the greatest human being on earth.

I have since then come to realise that I do not necessarily have to take part in this sort of pretence. Nowadays, if I end up in something like this, I cut the situation short, avoiding the redundant small talk. Rude? Maybe. I do not believe that honesty is a moral category most of the time, but pretending to be friends with someone who most likely does not even know your last name is not time well spent by any means. About as fun as a Stockphoto.





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