Don’t Be Fake


It is Monday morning after a break and you can hear the echoes of people exchanging pleasantries from Cornwall. Why do we ask how people are or how the break was if we are not concerned enough to hear the answer?

At the beginning of the school year, I ran into someone and we did the common dance of telling each other what we did for summer. A few hours later, when we bumped into each other, she asked again. When she saw me again after dinner, she asked for a third time that day. At least that time she asked me what classes I planned to take. Surprisingly, this isn’t the only time it has happened.

Middlebury has taught me to dislike surface level conversations and interactions. That’s all that seems to happen with most people. How much work do you have? Where did you go for break? Can you believe it’s 50 degrees? Middlebury is home to some intelligent people, so I refuse to believe this is all we can muster for conversation starters.

This isn’t me inviting people to ask about foreign policy or how much they love War and Peace in the lunch line at Ross, unless that is something you want to do. I am saying, we know more about each other, so let’s talk about that. If you know your friend has siblings, ask how they’re doing. During midterms, make sure your friends are staying afloat. Check in with people you care about and listen when they give you an answer. We have all had too many passing conversations where we ask how the other person is, but we keep walking, slightly turning as we turn our music back on.

Our culture of busyness keeps us in these conversations, keeps us on the surface. If we’re talking about building community, it needs to be in the everyday. It’s fine to say hi and keep going, but I challenge people to follow up when they ask about someone’s life.