OK, so I just moved to a new town, and I want to make some friends.

I am Christian, so I expect that I should be able to just jump into a church and meet all kinds of people there. After church people tend to talk and make plans to be social during the week, and the church communities tend to have parties where they talk and eat, etc..

I've tried a couple of churches, and I noticed a common behavior among them. They always stand in these semi-circles or circles while they talk (usually about 3-7 people in a circle), and since I don't really know anyone, I don't know how to join the circles. I assume this is normal behavior for people who know each other; I've observed similar behaviors at parties in the past. My response to this, so far, has been to awkwardly walk around the room or look at my phone, listening for an opening that I can jump in on.

Typically, the conversations they have pertain to pop culture or shared experiences. I figure I need to join the group before I can have shared experiences, so my only hope is to attempt to contribute something to a conversation about pop culture. But I'm a huge nerd. These days I'm spending my free time reading Josephus, Tertulian, and Plato, and I don't know how to talk about pop-culture.

My age group is early 20s, college/working.

How do I interject into an existing conversation about pop culture?

  • 1
    would you mind adding a tag for your location and possibly giving an age range you would fall in to help give more relevant answers? – BKlassen Jan 11 '19 at 17:58
  • 3
    It seems like you're asking two questions: how to jump into a conversation and how to relate to conversations about pop culture. Could you maybe narrow it down to just one question, or ask two separate ones? – user141592 Jan 11 '19 at 18:01
  • Any chance of catching anyone before circles form? Like when exciting church? Or would this be considered a faux pas? – Tinkeringbell Jan 11 '19 at 18:35
  • @Rainbacon Thanks! I acknowledge the duplicate. I'm going to refine my question to "relating to conversations about pop culture". – boxcartenant Jan 11 '19 at 18:42
  • @Johanna Thanks, since there was a duplicate for the first topic, I've updated mine to be about the second topic. – boxcartenant Jan 11 '19 at 18:44

One possibility is find someone friendly-looking before church starts, introduce yourself and mention that you are new in town. Unless you're going to a church with a very different culture than the ones I've been to (in the eastern US), most people you approach will receive you well and introduce you around a little. Many Christian churches have strong unspoken rules about being welcoming to visitors and guests. Now you 'know someone' and have a pretext to break into conversations more naturally.

If you can, identify someone you'd like to meet and join them before the circle closes tight. Even when you do know someone it can be hard to non-awkwardly join in once a conversation is well underway.

When you wish to get involved in a conversation on a topic that you aren't really knowledgeable about, one reasonably sure way is to start by listening for a good opening to ask a question. Try not to make it something so simple that it can be answered with one word, and leverage what you know of the subject, even if it isn't much, to inform an interesting question. For example, I've never watched the show Survivor, but I know it's been on a long time. A reasonable way to get into a conversation with fans might be, "Hasn't that been on for like 20 seasons? Has the show changed much over that time?" Alternately, ask if a new season/sequel/edition of PopCulture Thing is coming out soon, and what is everyone looking forward to about that?

In more general terms, the way to look like an interesting person is to take a genuine interest in others, and that includes the things they like and are knowledgeable about. Being a good, engaged listener is more than half the battle when it comes to being perceived as a good conversationalist. If you're entirely faking your interest, that can be obvious and make a negative impression, so try to pick a moment when the topic at hand is at least mildly intriguing to you.

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