Corona Culture Column #2: Harder to Hear, Easier to Talk: Small Talk in the Age of Corona

If there’s one positive thing you can say about the coronavirus, it’s that small talk is a lot easier now. You don’t really have to think about what you have in common with the person you’re chatting with anymore. We used to have to try and find TV shows, movies, or other such points of commonality in order to carry on in the dialogue, but we don’t have to look for those points of commonality anymore; everyone’s life has been changed by the pandemic. Move over, The Weather, here come the latest updates from the planet’s leading immunologists as the go-to for casual conversations. But this new point of commonality entails more than just small talk. We now have the capability to relate to anyone on earth. Covid hit everywhere and everyone differently. In the United States, it disproportionately affects already marginalized communities such as black people, Hispanics, and indigenous populations, who are systematically fiscally oppressed into receiving worse care, testing, and protection. Just because anyone can get corona doesn’t mean we all suffer equally. The wealthy still get the best treatment. 

Still, we’re all worried about this virus, thinking about it, and talking about it. For once in history, the same conversation is happening in every language, country, and class on earth. Covid has made conversations easier because it has made us more alike: we’re all living through this. We may not get the chance to talk to those outside of our bubbles that often anymore, but when we do, no matter who they are, we’ll always have something to talk about.