|Flowers and sky|
I learned a new word today: phatic. It refers to "small talk," or the things we say to each other that start off a conversation, such as "How are you?" Nobody really wants to know how you are, since that's not usually the intent of the phrase. It's more often something we say to one another just to get conversations going. There's an interesting article in the Atlantic (I think you need to pay for a subscription in order to read this article, but I found it fascinating if you can get it.) I was intrigued by the title, which is Why People Keep Asking Which Vaccine You Got.
It turns out, according to the author, that it's simply a way to get the conversational ball rolling, and these days, it's the vaccine and the pandemic that is on most people's minds.
Suddenly, asking “How are you?” involved really and truly asking the question, whether you meant to or not. Who knows, after all, if the other party (or someone in their family) might be sick, or has lost their job, or has even just reached a new low of sorrow and terror.
Which takes that question out of the mundane, ordinary world we used to know, and reminds us all that these are not ordinary times. Vaccine small talk has given us something to talk about, and I am truly wondering how we are managing during these remarkable times. We won't soon forget about how we coped with this period of time. Phatic speech might have changed in some ways, but still...
Which one did you get? I got the Pfizer vaccine.