General Question

wundayatta's avatar

Is discussion of the weather really small talk?

Asked by wundayatta (58638points) June 18th, 2009

It’s been really wet here for weeks. The mold has taken over, and it smells awful outside my front door. The flowers are doing well, but, well, people are getting tired of it.

You know that saying, “everyone always complains about the weather, but no one ever does anything about it?” Obviously, the weather is beyond human control. So, we complain about it. Or remark on it. It can warm us up for more serious conversation, but is it really small talk, or is it something we actually really do care about?

P.S. How’s the weather over there?

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30 Answers

jeffgoldblumsprivatefacilities's avatar

It’s only serious conversation if you are in you 80’s. As a matter of fact, without people in their 80’s, the Weather Channel would cease to exist.

Saturated_Brain's avatar

Unless it directly affects you, then it’s small talk. It all depends, I mean… Try these two different scenarios:

Scenario 1:
A: Hey there man!
B: Heeyyy…
A: ....
B: ...
A: So…. How’s the weather?

Scenario 2:
A: Hey there man!
B: Heyyy!!
A: The weather’s been crazy these past few days hasn’t it? Just yesterday the wind blew my house down!
B: Tell me about it, my car got wasted in the tornado that just happened last Monday!

I think that it should be pretty clear from these clear (though rather extreme) examples.

But since you asked, pretty dark and black. You can’t see much when it’s night, but it’s a relatively warm-ish night. How about on your side?

SirBailey's avatar

It is small talk and I HATE it. EVERY TIME I get in the elevator of my building and someone else is on, they bring up the weather.

Les's avatar

Haha. I guess it depends on what crowd you’re in. I talk about the weather every day, and let me tell you, it is very serious conversation. But I’m also conversing with other meteorologists, so I guess that makes us strange.

My college roommate once said something like “Wow. This weather is crazy. Yesterday it was so warm, and now today it is storming and cold. What’s the deal?”
My response was, “Cold front.”
She told me that that answer is only acceptable when I’m around other people “like me”. When I’m around normal people, the answer should be, “I don’t know. But that’s crazy.”

On a normal day to day basis, when talking with random people I meet throughout my day, I’d say the weather only comes up because we have nothing better to talk about.

jeffgoldblumsprivatefacilities's avatar

@Les I don’t think it takes a Meteorologist to know what a Cold front is. Just a stupid person to not know what it is.

Les's avatar

No, you’re right. But her point was that she wasn’t looking for an answer. It was a rhetorical question.

whatthefluther's avatar

Here in beautiful Los Angeles, California, home of the World Champion Los Angeles Lakers, at 7AM, it is currently 62 degrees, warming up to a perfect 84 degrees under bright sunny skies. In L.A., weather talk is definitely small talk even if it happens to be the hour and a half each year when something called “rain” falls. When that happens, there is no time for talk. Everyone makes a mad dash to their cars (mostly SUVs) so they can speed on wet freeways and flooded streets, spinning their wheels and running into each other. It’s a ritual here….much like kids stomping in puddles.

aprilsimnel's avatar

It doesn’t feel like June where I am, that’s for sure. More like mid-April. It’s raining and cold.

CMaz's avatar

The sun is shining again, it will be 90 degrees again.
Crap. Tired of sand, from walking the beach, getting in my car.
And if my brother, who does nothing but deep sea fish all the time, asks me to go fishing with him again. I will go crazy. Though I do like to fish.
Wait, did it just rain? Yep, and it just stopped and the sun is back out. Actually it never went away.
Ok, I guess I will put some clothing on and go in my back yard, take down that ripe bunch of bananas.
I am starting to miss snow. :-) Not!
Just another day…

Phobia's avatar

When we talk about weather at work, its usually a serious conversation because the weather causes problems for us. Any other time, yeah, its pretty much small talk for me.

P.S. Heat index is 110 today! I’m going to hide inside for a long time :)

Likeradar's avatar

It’s something everyone has in common, and makes an easy and unoffensive short conversation instead of just staring at someone blankly.

It’s finally feeling like summer here, after weeks of chilliness and rain and tornado warnings and more hail than is really necessary in June.

casheroo's avatar

This is the crappiest June ever. I don’t understand all this rain :(

DeanV's avatar

@whatthefluther Why yes, I suppose it is excellent weather for a riot.

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

In the Midwest, the weather is everything. The farmers and other agricultural types, including the farm machinery manufacturers are heavily influenced by the weather. The weather can make or break people here. In the cities, not so much. In the rural areas, weather isn’t small talk, it is the MAIN subject, for obvious reasons.

whatthefluther's avatar

@dverhey…Hey, kid…Shouldn’t you be watching that Humboldt County grass grow?

Dr_C's avatar

If you happen to be stading outside during some form of meteoroloical event it’s completely relevant and not smalltalk. If you are indoors for the express purpose of hiding from rain or sleet or something.. also not small talk. Every other situation…. ANNOYING small talk.

Plus living in California i can tell you we know all about rain… we see it on TV all the time!... also that stuff that rain turns into when it freezes… what do you call that again?

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I hate small talk and I hate talking about the weather or whatever people want to talk about in the elevator, I’d really rather not talk at all

Clair's avatar

I certainly think weather is small talk. I’m guilty of it but that’s when you can tell that’s it’s really awkward for me to talk to this person or I’m out of things to talk about and I just can’t get away from them.
It’s so freakin hot here. Supposed to be 99 tomorrow with 100% humidity.
call me crazy but I do believe weather is in human control. yes, yet another conspiracy theory.

Aethelwine's avatar

My husband works on a farm. Weather is talked about daily. @evelyns_pet_zebra knows what I’m talking about.

@evelyns_pet_zebra We’ve had the wettest spring on record here in central Il. and the Illinois River was at flood stage for the longest time in recorded history.

Phobia's avatar

@Dr_C I think you mean sleet

@evelyns_pet_zebra I work in aquaculture, weather also heavily influences us. Rain really screws with our oxygen levels. If there’s a thunderstorm, there’s no way to harvest. It’s kinda hard to get people to stand in water while it’s lightning, you know =P

tiffyandthewall's avatar

i’m in florida, so mostly it’s either small talk or it’s “you’ll never guess what damage the hurricane did to my _________!”.

but small talk about the weather gets – no pun intended – heated when it turns into a full blown debate about global warming

YARNLADY's avatar

Small talk – indeed! Have you never seen Storm Chasers? To some people “the weather” is an all consuming activity that permeates every fibre of their being.

And “do nothing”? Well, my dear, that would come as a great surprise to these people, or best selling author Victor Boesen

For more information, see this excellent wikipedia article.

Oh, and by the way, your question kept me off Fluther for nearly two hours as I found interesting article after article about the weather.

And don’t even get me started on which government (ChinaUS) owns the weather.

RedPowerLady's avatar

I think it is a nice social lubricant small talk or not. I also think that many of us certainly do care about the weather. Gardner’s for instance. Or people who enjoy boating.

How’s the weather here? :)
Well as a matter of fact it has been quite odd. It is alternating quite immeasurably between Grey and sunny, wet and dry, super hot and mild. There is just no way to know what is going to happen even within the same day. I’m ready for some steadiness here, even just a bit.

YARNLADY's avatar

Oh, I forgot the weather here: excellent, as usual.

DeanV's avatar

Just the usual here. I love it.

knitfroggy's avatar

I hate hearing about the weather. If I hear one more person talk about how hot and/or humid it is, I’m gonna explode. We all know it’s hot, we’re all friggin’ hot. Sometimes it’s ok just to shut up and not say anything. Especially if you can’t think of anything else to talk about.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Haha, I was just in the elevator going up to work and people started talking about…yes…the weather and I remembered this question…and one woman was like “Omg, it rained so much, I thought I was going to have to build an Ark” and the other one goes “Yeah, Noah had it right”

I almost burst out laughing

pezz's avatar

I agree that we do use the weather as small talk, however the weather in England it can become very depressing. I think we then try to cheer ourselves up by making small talk of it.

NUNYA's avatar

It really is ‘small talk’ the majority of the time.
Our weather finally warmed up after having -30 ish temps for a week. It was a balmy 44 degrees today. It is melting our 2 foot of snow rather rapidly and I’m concerned we will not end up with the White Christmas I was thinking we’d have. UGH!

YARNLADY's avatar

When people discuss the weather for the sole purpose of ‘discussing” it without any intention or expectation of doing anything about it, that is, indeed, small talk. This is true of any and every subject you can think of.

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