“Well hi, how are you?”
   The perky, put-together, faux-blonde strides over to you confidently, her bright, eager eyes boring into yours insistently, because, as everyone knows, it’s absolutely crucial to make eye contact at all times – even if your target audience has no interest whatsoever in your irises. She extends her arm assuredly and, without waiting for you to accept her offer of physical contact, begins pumping your hand so hard you worry that it’s about to be ripped off.
   “Um…I’m…I’m not so good, actually,” you stammer honestly, squinting to avoid the intensity of her gaze. “I’m just getting over a really bad bout of gastroenteritis, and I’m still not quite-”
   “Oh, really? That’s GREAT!” she chirps cheerfully, flipping her hair over her shoulder and waving to another co-worker over yours. “So, I’ll see you at the office party later, RIGHT? Six-thirty, drinks at Doogan’s?”
   “Well, no, I’m not going. I’m still not really feeling that great and I need to go home and rest…”
   “Ok, GREAT!!! See you there!!!”

   If you’re anything like me, you’ve had this kind of conversation more times than you can count. The world, it seems, is jam-packed full of people who are simply wild about “small talk” – mindless little chats about nothing that one can just smile and nod along to without actually taking in a single word of what the other person is saying. They’re meaningless interactions, based on convention rather than care, and this strikes me as being extremely problematic.
   Why, you ask?
   Because if everybody’s busy making small talk, is anyone actually listening?