Be it on a blind date, at a party where you don't know anyone, or sitting next to someone on an airplane, starting a conversation with a total stranger is difficult.
As much as we'd all like to be friendly, far too often we find ourselves at a loss for words.
It doesn't help that we generally have no idea of what these people's various interests are, making it anyone's guess how they'll respond.
But some have this problem solved, finding a go-to topic which is always guaranteed to get a response, no matter who you're talking to.
Redditor Blugged_Bunny was curious to hear what people thought was the best way to begin a conversation with strangers, leading them to ask:
"What is your go-to 'small talk' topic with strangers?"
Did you check the forecast?
"We sure are having a lot of weather"- r_Ju_Tacular.
"As a British person, the conversation usually starts like this:"
“'Yeah not too bad, weathers a bit sh*t innit?'”
"The end."- chelstippinsCloud Storm GIF by Weather UndergroundGiphy
Why beat around the bush?
"Straight to politics and religion."- Turd_Ferguson009.
Just let it happen.
"Make an observation."
"Literally anything."It helps if it’s something about them like an article of clothing that catches your eye, something they’re doing, anything that you can relate to or are interested in but it doesn’t have to be."
"It can be something in the environment that is drawing both of your attention."
"People bullsh*t about the weather all the time."
"Make a comment about it, gauge their willingness to talk about it to you and build off of what you get from the response."
"If all you get is 'haha yeah', leave it."
"No shame in silence."
"Some people just don’t want to talk."
I"f you’re talking about the weather, 'Man it’s a great day out today!'"
“'Yeah absolutely! I drove here with my windows down all the way here!'”
"Boom, you’ve got something to latch onto."
"They probably enjoy getting outside for some fresh air. "
"They probably enjoy driving."
"Ask about their car."
"Ask if they go on drives a lot."
"Ask if they do outdoor stuff."
"What kind of outdoor stuff?"
"Once you’ve got something to work with, the key is to ask."
"Let them do the talking."
"People love talking about themselves."
"You learn some light hearted things about the stranger, they feel more comfortable, and you can add bits and bobs of your own experiences in response so they get to know you too."
"It works in literally any situation."
"From an elevator ride to a first date."
"It’s so easy to personalize small talk and it makes it so much less uncomfortable."- 1arrocknroll.
"But enough about me, what do you think about me?"
"Usually people love to talk about themselves, so a few questions about them and some follow up questions to their answers usually does it."- I_can_see_the_music.For Me GIF by Liz HuettGiphy
"Food, glorious food..."
"People typically love food."
"I mention I’m new/newer to an area."
"And ask them what they like, where they eat out."
"Usually works and people have their choices validated and I always know where to find good local snacks."- TheProfWife.
"You hear about Pluto?... that's messed up right."- Papitorres.Pluto Flyby GIFGiphy
Can you believe it?
"Did you see that ludicrous display last night?"- housemuncher.
"As a Norwegian - we leave strangers alone."
"No need to bother them."- neihuffda.No Idea Reaction GIF by BounceGiphy
The sky's the limit.
"So, do you like stuff?"- Bwon669.
All of these seem like surefire ways to get a conversation started.
But use cautiously, as who knows how long it will take these conversations to end.
Want to "know" more?
Sign up for the Knowable newsletter here.
Never miss another big, odd, funny, or heartbreaking moment again.
Prison is no place you want to be.
It's a hard, cold, dangerous environment.
Many people try to make the best of it.
What else can you do?
One would be surprised what useful tidbits follow one past the bars.
Redditoryouknowyoulickwanted to hear from those that have done a little time by asking about how free life and jail life can be useful to one another. They asked:
"People who have been in jail, what habits do you still do today that you learned from being in lockup?"
I've met a few people who did time and utilized it to learn. It's always possible.
No Bumpingbuster keaton GIFGiphy
"When my dad came home from prison I remember him being very polite .He was careful not to bump anybody, and he always said excuse me if he were trying to pass somebody."
"The dorm pod I was in had metal stairs that made loud noises when you walked down them. Almost got in a fight with 3 other people because I woke up at night and had to piss and woke everyone up. To this day I can't fall asleep without peeing immediately before laying down. Like, even if I went less than an hour earlier I have to stand there and focus with yogi-like intensity to squeeze a few drops out or I lay awake feeling like my bladder is full."
"I can play Spades a bit better now."
"Man I got really good at spades in there. Played constantly. Had 400 packets of ramen at one point, then people stopped wanting to play me and my partner."
"I can never find anyone who knows how to play spades and it is very frustrating. Hokm is a game with almost the exact same rules, except spades is not necessarily the high suit. Cards are dealt face up at the beginning and whoever gets the first ace, after being dealt the first hand of five cards, chooses the high suit. The rest of the hand is then dealt and the game proceeds."
"Man jail-house chess players are fun opponents. They can play some stupid s**t that ends up transposing into a solid mainline. I'll be like, how can I punish this? then all of a sudden be like, oh we're here?"
"Wow, that's funny you should mention that. I was talking to a US chess champion in a bookstore once (chance encounter) who regularly played against dozens of people for charity. He randomly mentioned that people who learned in jail were very tricky because it was all nonstandard stuff and lots of tricks and traps. But said he always beats them anyway."
In BetweenSalt Bae Sugar GIF by TruviaGiphy
"Save every extra sugar packet I come across in case I get hungry between meals."
Well it sounds like there are skills to be acquired while the time goes by.
Food NeedsMr Bean Eating GIFGiphy
"Eating fast. Too fast honestly."
"Picked this up in the military and 14 years later I still scarf my food down like the worlds ending."
Use of Space
"My bedroom is basically set up like my old cell. In my bedroom I have everything at arms length. I sit with my back to the wall when I'm out. I still pace back and forth in small spaces."
"My boyfriend still does all of this too. He also sleeps with a crow bar or a bat next to the bed and gets super on edge when someone comes walking up behind him. When we go out to eat he always needs to be facing the door. I get annoyed with it sometimes but when he explains how we've both had very different live experiences it really puts it into context."
"Being entertained doing absolutely nothing like staring at a wall I just don’t get bored anymore."
"I was put on three months bed rest at the start of 2020, and I learned this skill. I’m honestly never bored. Ever. I’m not someone who’s really ever been bored much to begin with. I would spend hours thinking about everything and nothing and staring at the trees out my window. Very healing actually."
"I did 12 years in a state institution. The only really strange thing to me was answering the telephone. First off, you don't receive calls. Second, once the call connects, you can hear them say hello and then a prompt plays letting them know the call is recorded and what not before you then say hello. For about a year people would answer when I call them and I would wait for the recording to play before responding."
Senses UpSpider-Man What GIF by Caleb Linden DesignGiphy
"Hypervigilant. Size up everyone everywhere I go. Especially public transport and public spaces."
This are some very interesting habits they've picked up.
Do you have similar stories? Let us know in the comments below.
Want to "know" more?
Sign up for the Knowable newsletter here.
Never miss another big, odd, funny or heartbreaking moment again.
*The following article contains discussion of suicide/self-harm.
There are those who say that going through a hard or unpleasant experience is what makes you stronger, and able to live your life more happily.
But there are very few people who don't have one memory of an experience that they wish they could forget... or even wish never happened in the first place.
Redditor Lord_Lazignac was curious to learn of experiences people had which continue to traumatize them to this day, leading them to ask:
"What event in your life still f*cks with you to this day?"
Parents who still from their children.
"There was a girl next door to my grandparent’s house that I had the biggest crush on."
"Her name was Becca."
"We had known each other from the time I was really little."
"We were both coming into the ages of liking the opposite sex at the same time and we had similar troubled childhoods (Becca lived with her grandparents, too)."
"Somewhere after holding hands, but before a first kiss, Becca gave me a ring."
She ‘borrowed’ it from her grandpa and needed it back the next day."
"I was on cloud 9."
"With excitement I showed my mom the ring."
"She asked my grandparents to borrow their truck and told me to get in and make sure I brought the ring."
"I had no idea what was going on."
"We pulled up to the 'jewelry store' at Eureka and Telegraph and she asked to see the ring."
"She went inside,'no kids were allowed', and came out about 20 minutes later."
"Then, we went to Mcdonald’s."
"The first time I’d eaten anything but food pantry food in at least a year."
"She said the 'jewelry store' needed to borrow that specific ring for a few weeks to clean it up."
"I asked what I was supposed to tell Becca had happened to it, and she said to tell her that I had lost it."
"I never saw the ring again, and Becca never talked to me again."- Davidsilak
A heartbreaking moment of false hope.
"My father was in hospice dying from cancer."
"He had stopped eating and was barely communicative."
"We knew it was just a matter of days."
"Mom and I went to visit him every day for a few hours so he wouldn’t be alone."
"One morning we get a call."
"Fearing the worst I answered it- expecting them to let us know he had passed."
"My father was on the phone and he sounded well."
"He even said he was hungry and asked for breakfast!"
"He told me he was looking forward to our visit!"
"I was stunned."
"Had all these emotions and thoughts- maybe it was a miracle and he was going to beat this!"
"Hopped in the car and started driving over."
"Got another phone call, this time it was the hospice folks."
"He had just passed."
"The rollercoaster of emotions from that morning haunt me."
"I was numb for a long time."
"There was a period where I thought maybe I hallucinated and never spoke with my dad that morning."
"To put my mind at ease I met with the hospice nurse who was with my dad that morning."
"She explained this concept called terminal lucidity."
"She says it’s not uncommon at all and is usually a sign that someone will pass soon."
"That helped, but it still haunts me."- bondsman333
Losing a loved one to suicide.
"I lost a friend to suicide in autumn 2017."
"He was the first person I loved and he was also the first, and only, person to properly break my heart, which happened some years before he died."
"His mental health was always chaotic and in the months before his death l’d distanced myself because I was finding it overwhelming."
"Something I regret now but also understand I needed to do."
"I never wanted to not be his friend, I always saw a future with us in a place were we’d be old friends who could joke about him breaking my heart when I was 20."
"Our friendship never recovered to what it was without the messy love thing, but it was getting there."
"Since his death I have realized how much he influenced me to be the person I am today."
"I really miss him."
"I understand and accept his death."
"However even now this life without him feels off balance, like something went wrong with the universe."
"I had so much faith in him getting better."- CryptographerWeak873
"My brother committed suicide when I was about 12 years old."
"A few weeks after his passing, I was half asleep on the couch and heard my family talk about how he actually had cancer but took his own life as to not be a burden on the family."
"The problem is, I was only 12 and half awake when I overheard all of this, so I'm not sure whether it's even true or something my brain made up in it's semi-conscious state."
"To this day, I don't have the balls to confront my family on the topic."- dirtycommie123
Not getting there in time.
"Was a normal Friday."
"I had taken an early day to help my father with haylage."
"Earlier that morning my father brought my mother to the hospital because she was dry heaving a lot."
"When I got home the home phone rang and I picked up."
"They said it was the hospital and that they were going to transfer her to a bigger hospital because she had just had a heart attack."
"So I tell my father and he goes to the bigger hospital to fill out forms and stuff."
"3hrs later I get a call saying that they are going to airlift her to the city with the best cardiac doctors."
"So I start to pack bags for everyone."
"Then my father calls me one more time to tell me to go get my brother from his pre-prom party because moms not going to make it."
"So I'm driving like a bat outta hell trying to find my brother's party."
"Then speed all the way to the hospital praying that the cops have a huge drug bust or something."
"I get to the hospital with my brother and we see our father outside the room crying."
"My father is an emotional man when it comes to death."
"I have never seen him cry so much."
"I look to my right and there's 7 people in my mother's room."
"Doctors nurses the helicopter crew that was going to transfer her."
"It was about 45 minutes it felt like and they said there was nothing else they could do."
"My mother died that day without a warning."- Puzzleheaded_Cap174
Never getting to repay generosity
"A friend in HS loaned me 200 dollars right before we graduated."
"We lost contact and I still often wake up in the middle of the night wishing I could have the opportunity to pay him back."
"I'm 50 this year."- Genbu7
Lack of consequences
"My mom was hit and killed by a driver on her morning walk."
"My dad stood right next to her and was almost hit himself."
"It happened in a public park in an unmarked crosswalk."
"The guy never got out of his truck to help as my mom bled out."
"My dad watched the whole thing."
"They were married for 45 yrs."
"I can’t ever get the call from my dad out of my head."
"He called me while on the scene to tell me mom was dead."
"The guy that hit her never received even a ticket."
"He got off Scott free because the DA ruled it an accident."
"Even witnesses at the scene said he failed to yield."
"My mom was killed within two steps of the curb."
"Literally one second later she’d have been ok."
"The dude hit her in the shoulder."
"Even the police stated this."
"He broke laws and faced no consequences."
"My dad is a shell of himself."- thecazbah
"When I was 16 I was on my way to take my SAT on a Saturday morning."
"I pulled up to a 4-way stop on a quiet street and looked both directions."
"Glanced to my right and saw a car way down the road, didn’t look for more than a second and thought I was good, since he had to stop at his stop sign."
"I enter the intersection and look to my right again and the car is already at the intersection."
"He was going 55mph on a 25mph road."
"He was not stopping."
"Time slowed down as I realized 'oh he’s about to t-bone the side of my tiny pickup truck."
"So I look away from the window to keep my face safe from any potential flying shards of glass, I white-knuckle grip the wheel and just hope for the best."
"He flipped my truck, I rolled onto my side and nail a telephone pole with the top of my truck."
"As I’m laying there on my side I’m feeling all over my body just expecting to be badly hurt and just in shock but amazingly, my worst injury is a scraped elbow."
"This was nearly 10 years ago and even today I drive like a grandma when it comes to intersections."
"I’ll wait an extra few seconds every time if I feel like a car is approaching too quickly."
"There have been times where a car is coming up quick and my heart rate will skyrocket because I think I’m about to get hit again."
"I have never trusted another driver ever since that day and being that defensive has never steered me wrong."
"On the bright side, the guy who hit me immediately called the police, then shoved his shirt through a crack in my door so I could cover myself while the cop broke the window and pulled me out."
"He broke several bones, admitted fault to the police the second they got there and personally apologized to my hysterical mother any myself multiple times."
"As sh*tty as I was that he hit me, at least he wasn’t a sh*tty person."
"I still took my SAT too, my hand was shaking from adrenaline the entire time."- HallucinatesOtters
Choosing to pull the plug
"Having to make the decision to take my mother off of a ventilator."
"Making the decision to end her life."
"I tell myself that it was the right thing to do."
"I have no doubt her quality of life would have been nonexistent."
"However, no amount of rationalizing can make me feel okay as a daughter."- dontonefingerme
Some horrible experiences are just a right of passage.
While others are experiences no one should ever have to go through.
Both are extremely difficult to recover from.
If you or someone you know is struggling, you can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
To find help outside the United States, the International Association for Suicide Prevention has resources available at https://www.iasp.info/resources/Crisis_Centres/
Dear parents born in the 80s/90s :
Your child is probably (we never really know for sure) not a weed dealer.
So if you hear them talking about "mids" - they're not talking about average grade or potency cannabis. They are, in fact, probably talking about your lame old self and/or something you own or tried to give them.
Reddit user Kengriffinspimp asked:
"What slang word did you hear that let you know you are no longer young?"
Now, the reason I can give you this lesson is that my 15-year-old looked me dead in the face and told me I needed to stop buying mids because it was bumming her out.
So I'm all:
"First of all, how did you get into my lockbox? Secondly, my cannabis is medical grade, prescription, and grown on a small batch boutique farm and probably blessed by the rains down in Africa or whatever, thank you very much. And third of all, when did you become a budtender???"
... You know those moments where you're blankly staring and the other person is blankly staring and then you suddenly realize you two are absolutely not talking about the same thing?
Turns out my teenager was bummed that we had purchased some non-Eggo waffles and, while they were chocolate chip so not TOTALLY unacceptable, the quality was "meh" and she wanted her high-grade waffles back.
Waffles. Not Weed. Just waffles.
"Mid" is just what the young people now call anything of mediocre/average quality now.
Turns out I'm old, and also that my children are bougie and need name-brand waffles.
" 'Oof.' All the Roblox players thought they invented it."
"Oh. My. God. My partner and I can't work out why her 11 year old niece says oof all the time. But she is a Roblox player - we know that. Is that where it's from?!?"
"This whole time I thought 'oof' as a Reddit thing."
Is There A Fire?bart simpson dancing GIFGiphy
"Lit has changed meaning from when I was young. Couldn't understand the context when I started hearing it again."
"Is something on fire??"
"Lit af bro"
"We used to use it a lot in Counter Strike to indicate the amount of damage someone took."
"An example would be , 'he’s lit 90'."
"For me it was 'no cap'."
"...actually I have no idea wtf that means either..."
"Was going to say this exact thing. What does it mean?"
"Even knowing what it means immediately based on the context, the phrase just irrationally irritates me."
"Idk what it is. I just have a small urge to smack whoever says it."
- User Deleted
"I went to ask a coworker if he had left some product in my designated loading area (forklift certified). "
"He told me 'that's cap'. I had to look over to a buddy and asked if that meant it was true or not true. I'm only 28 and this happened last year to me..."
Pogs Are Back?90s pogs GIFGiphy
"When my son is impressed by something, he says it is 'poggers' which I guess means "pinnacle of gaming' according to him."
"This is true and gets used even if the impressive thing has nothing at all to do with video games."
"It's not actually an acronym (people always think it's 'play of the game' as well)."
"There was this twitch streamer who was actually playing pogs - like that chip game thing from the 90s? He got excited and made a goofy face, which got turned into a meme/twitch emote. So like, a zoomer meme that is built off a millennial game? I dunno."
"But yeah you basically got the actual meaning down."
"Omg I thought poggers was a joke? They actually say it? Lol well here’s my answer!"
"It's like proclaiming "f*ck yes", being very impressed, whatever they saw is awesome."
Who Has A Mop?
" 'Drip.' "
"My kids explained it is akin to the 'bling ' or 'swag' of my youth."
"Drip is swag"
"I first encountered 'Drip' watching WWE wrestling a year or two ago."
"One of the characters was calling himself the 'Drip King' and the announcers kept going on about it, and I was wondering if they were talking about his long, wet hair or if I was now too old. "
"It was the latter, of course. Not a surprise, though - I've been a regular Internet user for 25 years and have been made to feel old on pretty much a weekly basis for 15-20 of them."
When Did Public Transport Get Cool?
"Listening to my 10 year old son talk: 'Mom, this food is BUSSIN GOD ON GOD'."
"Did you learn what the hell bussin means?"
"Watched Joshua Weisman on YouTube for a bit, he uses this term now. First time I heard it was a year ago from an ex inmate cooking prison food on Facebook."
"I work in the industry."
"Bussin' is something you do to tables."
"I'm broke. Bussin' is something you do when you don't have a car."
"Why is it popular? When did public transportation get cool?"
" 'Yeet' - meaning to throw something hard/far."
"I like the word, but I still feel weird whenever I use it. My 6 year old plays lacrosse and I instantly regretted when I yelled 'Yeet it'" at a game ... cringe moment for me, honestly."
"My five year old has never known a world without "yeet." When talking to old people he uses the formal word throw.
"I'm team 'yeet' for sure!! In my mid 30s and as a coach I love it. I'm young enough to impress with my skills (experience) yet old enough to make them cringe when I say it. It's a dad's perfect storm."
"As a 30-year-old, yeet is the perfect word I didn't know I needed until I found it. There wasn't anything nearly as snappy to shout that meant "I'm throwing something" before. We had "think fast" back in my day, but yeet is so much better."
"I'm 43, but I'm all in on yeet. It's a great word. Past tense is yote."
"Of all these, I kind of like yeet. It’s almost onomatopoeia. When something gets thrown unexpectedly or absurdly far, describing it as “getting yeeted” cracks me up."
"Fam. I understood what it meant by context, but that's when I realized I'm no longer part of the youngsters."
"Went directly to the mall and bought me a tweed jacket."
"Did you tell the shopkeeper that tweed apparel was sick?"
"I feel like this word will get integrated into the middle class lexicon in about a decade, my Dad is as white as they come but now says 'Where you at?'."
It's A Fight?Ultimate Warrior Wrestling GIF by WWEGiphy
" 'Slaps'. Took me so long to figure out if it meant good or bad so I had to look on urban dictionary"
"Back in my day, and in my country/city, 'slaps' used to mean someone was about to get a beating"
"This is so far down. First time I really truly felt my age, also the urge to become the one who slaps."
"I still don't get what it means"
"Yah saw that somewhere recently in that Pam meme and inspired this post haha"
"To say something is mid, is just like saying it's mediocre."
"It's an insult, it's saying its medium, middle, or medicore, but mainly used to describe things/people that people dislike. I think it got popular after everyone hated jellybean"
Welp, now that I'm nearly 40, it's very probable that I will never again understand the majority of what gets talked about when this question comes up.
I need to go sit with that and feel my e-mortality now.
The body is an amazing thing.
There isn't enough time to learn everything there is to know about it.
And of course there is some knowledge most of us can do without ever knowing.
That is why I dropped out of anatomy... no thank you.
Redditorsammbhav01 wanted to discuss a little anatomy while they had our attention. They asked:
"What is a nsfw fact about humans?"
I hate body facts. I'm sheepish.
How about Dinner First?Oh My Reaction GIF by Saturday Night LiveGiphy
"Doctors will press on the penis glans while having one finger in the anus, if by pressing the gland the sphincter of the anus try to close, it means the reflex is still alive, it is sometimes used to check if theres any damage to the spinal cord after an accident."
Bad to Worse
"The most f**ked up human fact I know is: generally, during a kidney transplant, the old kidneys are not removed from the body, they are left inside after the transplant. There is actually a gentleman in the Netherlands who holds the world record for number of kidneys inside his body, which is currently 7."
"I’ll make it worse. The native kidneys shrivel up like raisins. So they’re just little beans hanging around uselessly once the transplant has been there awhile. They have such a complicated vascular system, it’s easier to leave them in — and it helps that they won’t take up too much room for long."
Quite a Load
"The average human poops close to 400lbs per year."
"My guess is it’s calculated by looking at throughput volume in sewage systems and dividing by the number of people in the service area using census data."
"Could also be a very long series of laborious collections from individuals, but I personally wouldn’t want to participate in that work (as the pooper OR the scientist). Now what would be really interesting if we did have individual-level data would be to examine the median, mode, range, error, etc. to determine if the average is 'normal' or skewed by a small percentage of insanely high-volume poopers."
Sexy Time For All
"Some people achieve orgasm getting their nipples pierced."
Going Downsharks lol GIF by Look HumanGiphy
"Human vaginal secretions contain hyaluronic acid and squalene, which are both used in skincare for hydration and elasticity. Squalene is also produced in high amounts in shark liver, so vaginas and sharks have that in common."
"If you continue to have an erection for several hours, blood will start to clot and harden, which decreases oxygenated blood flow to the tissue and can cause ischemia in the penile tissue. If one has an erection for longer than 24 hrs, the chances of having Erectile Dysfunction afterwards are exponentially higher statistically, from my understanding."
"Toddler's adult teeth are stored right under their eyes at some point."
"Can confirm. During my studies the first time we were shown a child x-ray and asked for diagnosis, everybody was freaking out that there is something seriously wrong (we didn't know it was a child). Turns out we were completely bamboozled and it was a healthy child. That day I learned where and when adult teeth develop during childhood."
"There are traces of human fecal matter pretty much everywhere."
"Mythbusters did a test where they were trying to see if putting your toothbrush in the cupboard would keep it cleaner. They had controls in other rooms that they expected to stay 100% poop free, but every single one tested positive for poop. There is no escape, there is nowhere safe."
Let it BurnMusical GIF by Tony AwardsGiphy
"The stomach acid in humans is so strong it could eat through most metals. However we're protected because of the mucus lining our gut."
The body is crazy. What a design.
Want to "know" more?
Sign up for the Knowable newsletter here.
Never miss another big, odd, funny or heartbreaking moment again.