“The third place is a concept which identifies places which are not home (first place) or work (second place).
As ‘informal public gathering places’, they are places of refuge, where people can eat, drink, relax, and commune in order to develop a sense of belonging to a place. They are gathering places where community is most alive and people are most themselves.
Third places are important because they act as ‘meditation between individuals and the larger society’ and increase a sense of belonging and community.-Patricia Mou, “what is the third place (pt.1)” patriciamou.com.
She then talks about characteristics of a third place.
- Neutral ground or common meeting place
- Levelers or places that encourage, and are inclusive of, social and cultural diversity
- Regular patrons
- Low profile and informal places
- Places that foster a playful atmosphere
- A home away from home
- A place where conversation is the primary activity
- Places that are easy to access and accommodate various sedentary and active activities
“1. Set up the conversational premise so you, and the other person, have easy outs, if it is not a good match.
2. Don’t assume the conversation will last an hour. Rapidly signal what kind of conversation you are good at, if anything going overboard in the preferred direction, again to establish whether the proper conversational match is in place.
3. If you notice something you want to say, say it.
4. Be worthy of a good conversation…
…I would stress the basic point that most conversations are bad, so your proper goal is to make them worse (so they can end) rather than better.”—Tyler Cowan, “How to have a good conversation.” Marginal Revolution. September 23, 2018.
One theory, if you cut down on conversations you don’t want, you’ll have more you do want. Another theory, you’ll just have fewer conversations, but the overall quality of your conversations will go up.
“The Finnish don’t believe in talking bullshit.”
—Laura Studarus. “How the Finnish Survive Without Small Talk.” BBC.com. October 17, 2018.
Small talk is a social lubricant. It creates openings, fills in gaps in conversation, and eases partings. In environments with complex social networks that extend past our Dunbar numbers, social anxiety is a natural byproduct of the environment. Small talk eases this anxiety.
Gossip also has these features. It can be useful in communicating social standing in a group. It’s how reputations are made. But, it is can also be damaging if it becomes the focus of interaction, where what others think and will say about us within a group polices group behavior, leading to inauthentic lives.
Small talk has a similar problem. Sure, it can signal social connection and paper over awkward moments. But, it can also become a crutch that we rely on so much that we do it instead of making any kind of meaningful connection with others, which can easily heighten our feelings of social anxiety and disconnection.