I've noticed something. Us late-20-somethings, we're bad at socializing now. We were so good at it back in college! We were ice-breaker experts. Conversation flowed like Biggie's rhymes. First-time acquaintances became instant friends. Everyone was awesome. Every night ended in multiple Facebook friend requests.
Things are tougher nowadays. The chat is sluggish. People already have enough friends. It's been a long week. They're sleepy. They have to get up early the next day. Etcetera, etcetera.
In fact, I've determined that our declining social skills boil down to five reasons:
1. We're out of practice
This is the most obvious reason. We're simply out of practice. Busier schedules and longer commutes have resulted in far fewer social gatherings than the college years. We've lost our mojo.
2. We have fewer common touch-points
There used to be so much to talk about. "Did you see those guys who made the giant slip 'n slide out in the courtyard earlier?" "Yep!" "Did you hear that those two broke up?" "Yes, can you believe it?" "Did you go out last night?" "Yeah, we were at the 80s party."
That's the way it used to be! Conversations were like an improv show. We 'yes-anded' the night away. When you live within a one-mile radius of everyone at the gathering, you have more things in common. There's more to talk about. Thus, talking to people is easier.
3. We know 'work' is a lame topic, but it's 80% of our lives now
People don't want to talk about work, and I hate asking them about it. But after a few awkward pauses I'm forced to jump in with, "So how's work going?" We're all a bit depressed it's come to that, but also relieved that the pause is over.
(I've heard the same is true of people with kids not wanting to talk about kids all the time but resorting to it eventually because it's all they have.)
4. We just don't care as much
This is a huge problem. I'm guilty of this more than any of the other reasons in this list. I JUST DON'T CARE. I can't feign interest like I used to.
5. One bad apple spoils the whole bunch
One of the reasons social gatherings feel more difficult, even for us schmucks who still try to make an effort, is that the really terrible people—'conversational handbrakes' as Andy calls them—simply limit the possibilities for everyone. It's like what Top Chef Head Judge Tom Colicchio says about seasoning: if you combine a perfectly seasoned ingredient with a bland ingredient, the net result is bland. Even the finest raconteur can't save a party full of duds.
P.S. I'm the best!