Is my therapist's definition of "social currency" correct?
December 19, 2013 10:12 AM Subscribe
Recently I spent hours with a former co-worker gossiping about our former workplace. We didn't actually connect or strengthen our own friendship; I just felt shitty after. My therapist labeled this conversation/habit "social currency" because workplace gossip was something impersonal to talk about that could ease conversation, but didn't result in actual sharing. But I've Googled the phrase and don't see "social currency" defined in that way. Is there a phenomenon by another name that she was referring to?
posted by whenbynowandtreebyleaf to Human Relations (10 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
She said social currency included gossip (both real-life and celebrity) and:
- can be on subjects people are passionate about and are unlikely to disagree on
- doesn't reveal any personal details/vulnerabilities on the side of either party
- could easily take up a lot of time, for example discussing last night's TV show plot
- is a way to engage without really connecting or strengthening the relationship
The key seemed to be that the participants in the conversation are *actively avoiding* any personal topics -- for example if you don't want to open up to an acquaintance, you steer the conversation to something innocuous like Dennis Rodman in North Korea and avoid sharing anything personal about yourself.
I was intrigued by her definition of this type of conversation, but when I went to research more, I couldn't find anything else about it. Could she have been referencing something else? I don't think it's just "small talk" since "small talk" CAN be a building block to a friendship if you've just met someone. Thanks in advance!