Homegrown Banana #4 - We don't talk like Sims do

by - Monday, September 12, 2011

currently: working with lots of stuff even though it's uni break. Sigh.

So much is going on in this big little city that is Auckland.
If you haven't heard, or if you don't really care much about New Zealand, Rugby World Cup is being hosted by our country, and Auckland (being the largest city) is in the centre of it all with increased traffic and people.
Pretty crazy. But I still welcome it. This sort of excitement never happens in Auckland.

Anyway, at the moment I'm working on some new reviews and a new column piece for my uni mag. I forgot that in the last week before the break, I had a column and review printed out that I hadn't yet shared with you! Written in the midst of my assignment procrastination, I bring you column four of my Homegrown Banana column you can find in debate issue 20.

Homegrown Banana – We don’t talk like Sims do.
Column #4

Llama? No llama.

It was a bad move for me to start playing The Sims Social game on Facebook. The Sims is just that type of game that you can play hour after hour; a fantastic (and too addictive) procrastination tool. I myself have been wasting time trying to keep my Sim happy so I can buy them the large screen television I will never own in real life. But I’ve noticed something special about Sims, and that’s how easy it is to talk with other Sims. It’s all very straight forward. You just click one of the talk options, and they just chat themselves in their Simlish language. If it all goes well, your Sim gets the green plus marks. If it doesn’t, then it’s a big fat red negative mark for you.


It’s just a shame real conversations cannot be as straight forward as it is in the Sims world. Very often I can find myself in the uncomfortable position where I can’t even talk to the person I’m with. This can be due to a various amount of reasons.
One: They don’t speak enough English and I don’t speak whatever language they speak.
Two: Their accent is so strong I feel myself having to stupidly ask them to repeat themselves.
Three: They don’t even look at me in the first place.
Four: It’s all of the above. And then it feels awkward.


Unfortunately all the above has happened to me before with a woman I had met from China. I occasionally work as a host for a social events company, and ninety percent of the time I’m perfectly fine talking with people I’ve just met. When they’re chatty and friendly, I know I can keep a conversation going on because they’ll contribute back. But when someone does not want to talk back to me, I will be prone to mentally panic and try to talk about the first subject I can think of, all done to desperately prevent any void of silence happening between us.


Now if this were the Sims world, awkward silences wouldn’t happen. One click of a button and suddenly we’d be launched into a talk where my speech bubble would have a picture of a toilet roll and yours would have a picture of a llama. However, it wasn’t easy at all for me to talk to this Chinese lady. I took the Sims approach and started talking about whatever topic subject popped up around my head; asking about her job, where she was from, her interests, the weather, 3D movies, the rugby, and how nice I thought her shoes were. I But for what ever reason, she seemed to prefer to sit in silence and not look up at anyone at the table, only glancing at her phone every once in a while.


I wish I could tell you there was a resolution to this all, that there was some magic code word that made her open up and tell her life story to me. But there isn’t. She remained quiet for almost the whole night, sharing more eye contact with her phone than with the others at the table. She did however tell me at the end of the night that she did enjoy herself and was interested in coming again, which I guess you can call ‘success’. But the resulting fact is there is no great formula as to how to master the art of conversation with everyone. And trying to talk to someone of a different culture, call it a good challenge instead of a big struggle. All you can truly do is secretly hope that what ever you’re saying, it results in some green plus marks between you two.

Look out tomorrow of my album review post. :)

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