How do you say "hello"? The Atlantic's still-lovely Geography of Small Talk series is asking.
the atlantic, greetings, geography of small talk
What up, Yo?
Love this. I often ask people "what's your story?" but it's not always perceived as a nice thing to ask-- I usually ask it after mentally stumbling around trying to decide what is the least socio-economically-focused small talk question, determining there is not a good question that doesn't have an angle (What do you do? assumes they work, and puts a premium on what they do as their identity, Where do you live? sometimes can make people feel shy or ashamed if they don't like where they are physically living, etc), and then ending up with "what's your story?"-- but people tend to respond either, happily, or nervously (the open-endedness, or perhaps the way it seems like it might be the beginning of a police questioning, unsettles some). I think I probably overthink these questions! But I also don't want anyone to feel bad when I've just met them. I like 'what's your story' the best of all of them. I also like 'how's your mama' but that might be bad if someone has major issues w/ their mother...
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