As people get older they spend more time discussing their medical problems. I think part of it might be that they have more medical problems but a lot of it is because their lives become more boring and they have far fewer interesting things to talk about.
I might be falling apart but I’m making a vow not to discuss my dodgy back, fallen arches, migraines or other mystery ailments. It’s boring and as I spend not enough time conversing with people I think I should make an effort to say something interesting when I do.
“What have you been up to?” is a terrible way to start a conversation to anyone over the age of about 16 because inevitably they will come back with “just working, you know, the usual.” Ask an 8 year old and you might get to hear about how they have been amputating wings of cicadas but if you talk to a 30 year old it will just descend into some miserable catalogue of complaints about how much work sucks. I also have a terrible memory and if people ask me what I’ve been up to I have NFI.
From now on I’m going with “What’s new - any big plans?” as my opening gambit. This way people have the chance to verbalise things which they actually have a passion for and you could end up having a conversation about any number of interesting things. They might be considering buying a bunny rabbit, they might be training to climb Mt Kilimanjaro or they might be planning on knocking over the servo and would like your advice on where to buy a balaclava.
Discussing possibilities for the future is way more interesting than dry accounts of what people have been doing in the past. If “any big plans?” became the standard conversation starter people might end up having more plans. Once you verbalise an idea that’s been floating around in your head it also becomes more likely that you will act upon it. A simple change in the way we converse could thus result in everyone doing more stuff and having more interesting, fulfilling lives.
The other suggestion I have is to have conversations in French because conversations in French always sound really interesting and animated. The major downfall is that I can’t understand French. They are probably all just discussing medical problems and how much work sucks anyway.