In Praise of the Trivial
In our world, is there a place for the trivial?
I believe there is. And what’s more, I believe that trivia has a very special importance.
I don’t mean trivia like Trivial Pursuit questions like what was the pen name of Samuel Langhorne Clemens. I mean personal trivia, the minutiae of your life that only has meaning within the context of your own life and perhaps the lives immediately adjacent to yours.
Why is Trivia Important?
Because sometimes trivial points of our own lives entertain us or provide us with unique moments of enjoyment. There may be something about them that we feel is uniquely “us.” And so we remember those moments and perhaps enjoy relating them to others.
The way you dropped a glass jar and cleverly caught it just before it hit the ground — an odd expression on someone’s face when you tell a joke in an impossibly bad way — a painting that reminds you of your mother and gives you chills — your new nail polish color — the fact that you just broke your favorite coffee mug — absolutely meaningless details in the bigger scheme of things. But fun to share with someone who can see this trivia from your point of view.
The fact that someone else appreciates and enjoys the trivia of your life makes best friends immensely valuable. I meet my best friend for coffee or breakfast every other week. During those meetings, we not only download stories of progress or conflict that has been overcome, we are likely to also share trivia that has some kind of meaning for us.
One of the factors that characterizes a best friend is that they can appreciate the trivia of your life in the same way you do. The assign the same importance (usually little!) and receive the same enjoyment from it that you do.
Of course, this enjoyment evolves from the fact that BFFs have generally known you for a long time and so can compare your trivia to events from your past the same way you do and so see the matter from your point of view.
Enjoy the Trivial!
There are many aspects of friendship that elevate a person to BFF status but I believe that appreciation of the minutiae of your life is an important one.
There is one other factor of trivia that may have importance. And that is that the pleasure we get from trivia is, briefly, an escape from toweringly important issues in daily life. This is, I believe, one of the reasons why Facebook works so well. We share trivia.
So much of it is enriching in small, fun, intimate ways. We get to know people by the trivia they share, by the flavor of what they find interesting and worthy of sharing. We gain insight into aspects of history, geography, music, botany and other topics through these snippets of sharing.
I’m in favor of continuing to share trivia with those who know us and can derive enjoyment from it. I believe they get to know us a little better, a little bit at a time, by the trivia we choose to share.
Photo by Hannah Busing on Unsplash