What Makes for Good Banter?

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After a strange episode with a roommate of mine recently I've been thinking about what it is that makes conversation interesting and engaging. I'm going to try to avoid the egocentric pitfall at both sides of this conversation, so hopefully the blog can steer us forwards.

I think what happened to me is something everyone can relate to; I was having an excellent conversation with my one housemate, who I will call, Jim. It was a very down-to-earth philosophical discussion, mainly about how people relate to themselves and others (specifically in relation to their own self-esteem or lack thereof).

About thirty minutes into the conversation, in comes my other housemate, (who I will call) Marty. Two things happened at that very instant.
First: The dynamic of the conversation fundamentally shifted. The interpersonal discussion we had going on that was very one-on-one had to mold into this new person. I could probably relate this to how the other college came into the blog and the boat was rocked for a short time until everything was resettled.
- I should note that this is not a bad thing, and in fact can be quite good. Adding new voices to a discussion can really push it past the boundaries it was previously experiencing. This, however, leads me to the second thing.
Second: We both know Marty isn't one for this kind of discussion. Knowing this, we both attempted to mold the conversation in a direction that was suitable for everyone. Our old conversation was one where someone would say something and we would think about it for a little for responding, there was no rush. Now that Marty was 'in play' that immediately changed. He can't handle quiet, so whenever there was a silence, he filled it with a personal story, one that was often completely unrelated and involved neither of us in any way. The words were, quite simply, space filler.

About ten minutes after he came down we went to bed. I think everyone knows the kind of discussion/person I am talking about here, so I'm hoping there is a sort of universal understanding with the way this post goes so we aren't forced into relating to my example in particular.

Going back to my original statement, what makes conversation interesting. That doesn't seem quite right, mainly because it's obvious that what Marty was talking about was interesting to him. What seemed strangest about his statements were that they were completely exclusive. The experiences he was explaining were almost completely foreign to anyone that wasn't himself. Jim and my conversation was one that, at least I feel, everyone must relate to at some point or another, even if we made the conversation personal by attaching our experiences to those general feelings. Perhaps this "palatability" of discussion takes some important hold in how we go about discourse. While Marty was talking about personal experiences first, then trying to (or not, perhaps) fit them to general experiential concepts we understood, the conversation Jim and I had started with the concepts and then moved into the personal experiences.

Those are my tentative thoughts on the matter, I'll have to think on it.

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