The Geography of Small Talk, Questions That Are Asked Across America Upon Meeting A Stranger

In this lovely video based upon the research and writing of Deb Fallows, The Atlantic explores the questions that are asked in different regions America when meeting a person for the first time. Some of these greetings are fairly innocuous, such as asking about where the other person is from, what school they attended or what they do for a living. While others get a little more personal, like in Waco, Texas.

If you ask someone where they go to church, you’re really trying to find out what they think, who they are, what they believe, what their political views are

The questions vary across the country, but what they all have in common is the desire to find out what the other person’s story may be, a question which some people believe to be the perfect way to greet a stranger.

I don’t like any of those kind of questions. When I meet someone for the first time, my opening question is often “What’s your story?”, which allows them to say whatever they feel they want to share about themselves. Y’know some people don’t like talking about what they do, some people don’t like talking about where they’re from, and some people…people have different idiosyncrasies. So when you say, “what’s your story?”, it just lets the person answer the question they want to answer as opposed to answering the question you specifically asked.

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Written by Lori Dorn

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