Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people. -Eleanor Roosevelt
I’ve recently made a new friend. She just barged in one day and started blabbering about some annoying guy. I listened, gave her some advice. Then I tried to change the topic to the weather. Didn’t work. I tried to steer the conversation in other directions too but it seemed like she wasn’t interested. We were back to that guy.
I’ve always wondered about the quote above. I think it is true in principle, but not in practice. Most of my relationships with people are centered around other people. The friend above, for example, is my friend because she shares her ‘people problems’ with me. I mostly talk to my mom about my friends, food or the weather. The only people I discuss ideas exclusively are my teachers or online communities. With strangers, I mostly discuss events, like the weather or politics etc. I think this is the case with most of us.
It is not like I never have “meaningful conversations” with my friends. We do. We discuss things like how sexuality can be fluid or how the underworld works etc. Sometimes we curse the government, other times admire the cleaning staff. But the point is, that happens once in a while. Most of the times we talk about other people. And I think that is healthy. You cannot survive without sharing some of your ‘personal’ feelings/thoughts about other people with your confidants.
I used to judge myself a lot based on that quote. I don’t anymore. I think it is ironic that it suggests judgment of people based on what they discuss with you. Maybe that person is full of ideas but your perspectives are vastly different. Maybe he is just too shy to say his ideas out loud. And even if none of that is the case, you cannot dismiss someone just because they talk about people. After all, the interaction between humans (after food etc.) is one of the most basic aspects of humanity. All ‘ideas’ start from there.
I like the following quote more:
People like to discuss people. People sometimes like to talk about events, sometimes about ideas. The third part happens rarely, between like minded people, and is how we bring change. However we need to discuss people and events to keep our sanity.
No mind is great or small, it is the interactions that are different. They can be informative, fulfilling, uplifting, upsetting, productive, unproductive etc. among a million other things and are all part of the human experience.