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Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Way Cooler Water Cooler

Blogging is the new water cooler. To tell the truth, I didn't realize there ever were water coolers . . . or that they are called water coolers, but they were, and they are. Where was I? Oh, yeah, water coolers.

Even when there's no one at the water cooler and you're not thirsty, water coolers are the place to stop for entertainment not at all related to what you're supposed to be doing. When you're alone at the water cooler, you dispense water until air bubbles come up. That's always fun . . . like a cross-section view of a fart. When someone else shows up, you talk about weekends. It usually starts, "Doing anything fun this weekend?" or "Do anything fun this weekend?" (This makes Tuesdays really suck, because it's entirely too late to ask about someones weekend without showing you didn't care enough to ask yesterday, but it's way too early to make fun weekend plans.) The universal implication in the question is, "Seriously, if it's not fun, don't tell me." Most people ignore the implication and go ahead and share mundane weekend plans if that's all they have.

Once a third person enters Water Cooler zone, it's no longer safe to discuss weekend plans because of the possibility that two of the three have already partaken or planned to engage in fun plans that don't include the third person. This is unforgivable, so the third person will introduce his or herself and immediately start a new topic of discussion: television shows and/or sporting events. For some reason, television show discussion works best in threes.

The addition of a fourth person automatically divides the group into two pairs, at which point one pair discusses personal matters they've been waiting for an opportunity to cover while the other pair (usually the last two people to arrive at the water cooler) covers weekends or work . . . if it happens to be Tuesday or Wednesday. Water Cooler talker number 5 is never there for water. They are just lonely and jealous of the other four. Their arrival sparks a brand new topic: crappy things that have happened recently.

It has to be something that is regarded by all the members as a bad thing (person #2 getting screwed out of a promotion won't come up if person #4 got the position). Personal illnesses are popular. Bad weather. (Not snow. Person #3 likes snow, and everyone else knows better than to get him started.) Layoffs. Tragedies. No topic is too sad, because the group is at critical mass and it needs to break up. When the discussion turns somber, everyone nods their heads in faux deep thought. Of course, there is virtually no difference between the FDT head nod and the PAAUJ (politely acknowledging an unfunny joke) head nod--one or the other is inevitable. The head nod and a visit from the boss are the only things that can dependably break up the Water Cooler gathering.

Anyway, my point is that blogging is the Internet Water Cooler. But it's better, because none of these rules apply. You never have to talk about your weekend unless it's awesome. There is no limit to how many can gather. You can be as open or impersonal as you like. You can talk about television shows, but you can do so while watching said television shows. You still feel like you're catching up with the people you like, and the potential distraction from doing anything meaningful is obvious. There are no FDT head nods unless the person whose blog you're reading is in the room. And when you desperately want the conversation to be over, you can just click away instead of trying to invent new body language expressions for "How can you not let the conversation die after three prolonged sessions of head nods?!"

You're gone now, aren't you? Okay. Bye. I'll see you. Have a . . . great . . . weekend.

7 comments:

  1. This is so funny to read a man's eye view of blogging. I always joke that blogging is the new "over the fence" for Moms. In the old days Moms would chat with their neighbors over the fence, most likely as they hung laundry if you want to get really stereotypical.

    Steph

    ReplyDelete
  2. I haven't had much experience at a water cooler yet. But I did have a situation like this in court on Monday. The defense attorney, who weighed about 500 pounds, would NOT shut up. We were all waiting for the judge to get there that morning, and the large man was obviously uncomfortable with silence, so he moved from talking about other attorneys, to talking about becoming a judge, to finally offering his opinions on the presidential candidates. By the time he was on topic two, everyone besides me was giving him the FTD. I, on the other hand just looked down and pretended he wasn't there. At one point I guess he asked me a question, but I didn't hear it. I only looked up because he'd stopped talking. That's when he asked me again "So what do you think?" I just said "Oh, not sure. I may have stopped listening awhile back." All the other attorneys laughed except for him.

    This Homestar Runner pertains to all situations like yours and mine. I think I employ method 3 the most. I imagine if I had boxing gloves, I'd also give people the bird like Method 2, though...

    http://www.homestarrunner.com/sbemail37.html

    Michael

    ReplyDelete
  3. I also took the same route in college. A couple of girls in our hall had to "confront" me and 2 of my friends because they thought we were palling around too much together (seriously, girls are that dumb) and neglecting them. Anyway, the whole time they were talking to us, I just put my head down and pretended they also weren't there. My other 2 friends (who were getting "confronted" with me) employed the FDT method...

    Not that all of this has much to do with your water cooler comparison to blogging, but that's ok.

    -Leah

    ReplyDelete
  4. Michael, maybe not a watercooler at work but the one in the picture that Adam posted looks identical to the one sitting in your kitchen right now.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I haven't had much experience at a water cooler yet. But I did have a situation like this in court on Monday. The defense attorney, who weighed about 500 pounds, would NOT shut up. We were all waiting for the judge to get there that morning, and the large man was obviously uncomfortable with silence, so he moved from talking about other attorneys, to talking about becoming a judge, to finally offering his opinions on the presidential candidates. By the time he was on topic two, everyone besides me was giving him the FTD. I, on the other hand just looked down and pretended he wasn't there. At one point I guess he asked me a question, but I didn't hear it. I only looked up because he'd stopped talking. That's when he asked me again "So what do you think?" I just said "Oh, not sure. I may have stopped listening awhile back." All the other attorneys laughed except for him.

    This Homestar Runner pertains to all situations like yours and mine. I think I employ method 3 the most. I imagine if I had boxing gloves, I'd also give people the bird like Method 2, though...

    http://www.homestarrunner.com/sbemail37.html

    Michael

    ReplyDelete

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