How many people really care about David Roberts? You might want to know who David Roberts is and why he has chosen to expose one of his social failings on a site called Vox? In that way you will better be able to answer whether anyone does or should care about Roberts.
As it happens Roberts is dismally bad at small talk. Already this tells you why so few people really care about Roberts and his problems. The better part of valor would have told him to keep it to himself and to try to learn how to relate to human beings. If you had expected as much, you would have been disappointed.
One understands-- because one is less naïve that it appears--that a journalist writing a long form essay might feel compelled to personalize the topic-- the better to help you to relate to it-- even if he ends up making himself look like a jerk. One also understands that the personal touch can be useful, but only as long as it does not drown the topic in the author's self-absorbed plaintive wail.
If you are thrown into a nearly phobic anguish by the prospect of small talk, how about showing us how you are trying to overcome your infirmity. Surely, it would have been better than writing about the value of small talk and then doubling down on your failure by refusing to learn how to do it.
You see, Roberts fashions himself a big talker, a master of deep thinking and of intensely soulful revelations. He does not understand that a considerate soul would have learned, before he reached adulthood, to keep such things to himself, but, alas, he has not.
Unfortunately, this self-branded big thinker is not very good at thinking, big or small. Or else, he is too self-absorbed to apply any of the lessons he gleans from his research to himself.
In fact, Roberts has done some research into the general theory of small talk, from Malinowski to the psycho researchers. Unthinkingly, he even includes a few feminist rants on the topic. So he understands that some people dismiss small talk as beneath their dignity. Had he done a little more research he would have discovered that famed Nazi philosopher Martin Heidegger was also a sworn enemy of small talk, criticizing what he called idle chatter. A champion of authenticity-- especially the kind that the Storm Troopers were practicing-- Heidegger had no real use for the niceties and proprieties that make up polite society. He could not have adhered to Nazism and still loved his neighbor.
People who are vulgar and boorish do not easily engage in small talk. They are so full of themselves that they feel compelled to impose their tedious beings on anyone who falls within the purview. At best, they engage in constant public drama. At worst, they bully people.
Now, Roberts has done enough research to know that small talk is a good thing. It is even therapeutic. Want to get rid of your sense of isolation and your fear of other people? One good way of doing so is learning the art of small talk. Learn to establish a connection with other human beings by talking about the weather and sports and the markets. It's not that difficult, but it does take practice.
Otherwise you will be following Roberts down a lonesome road and will continue to insist that you are as you are and that you cannot change... besides you prefer big talk. Because you are a big talker.
It takes a special warp of mind to recognize the virtue and the value of small talk-- which is a conversational handshake-- and then to think that it's beneath you. Who do you think you are, a Nietzschean superman?
When you engage in small talk you are taking things slowly. You are getting to know the person before you drop your pants-- a novel notion all by itself. I recognize that this is more the exception than the rule, but still, you are not obligated to follow every trendy bad habit.
When you are meeting someone for the first time or even greeting a friend you have not seen for a while, you do better not to blurt out the latest news about your hemorrhoids. Nor should you declaim about how strongly you feel about gun control... as though strong feelings make you necessarily right. When you indulge those big talker habits you are being a moral exhibitionist, and effectively putting yourself outside of the world of human commerce. Surely, you are seeking attention, but this kind of opening gambit rarely leads to anything good.
If you indulge in big talk without having laid the groundwork with small talk you cannot have established, through a series of other exchanges, that your interlocutor is trustworthy. So, you are engaging in public drama. But you are also trusting someone without knowing that you can trust him. And that makes you a fool. One understands that many people believe that the best way to open a conversation is to offer up a detail of your life that is highly personal-- that is, to expose yourself. But, if you do so you will merely be demonstrating that you have a defective sense of shame.
In so doing you are declaring yourself to be untrustworthy. If you are willing to expose information that embarrasses you to just anyone, why should anyone imagine that you will be any less careless or negligent with information that he confides in you?
Then again, once you overshare, you are likely to drive other people away. They will be faced with the choice between oversharing in return or turning away from you. The more intelligent ones will easily opt for the latter choice.
If perchance you suffer from the same problem as Roberts, you ought to consult a therapist. Then again, Roberts seems to be the kind of individual who has done too much therapy and who sees all human interactions as a form of therapy. In his case it has been highly ineffective.