Saying “How is that relevant?” to dismiss something.

When we are talking to people, sometimes people say “How is that relevant?” which is fine they are probably trying to know how something is relevant. But I have noticed that people sometimes use that phrase to dismiss things. Does it happen to you too? How do you deal with it? Just end the conversation?

For example, I was talking to a colleague the other day and he said “How is that relevant?” when what I was saying wasn’t particularly relevant to the discussion but kind of vaguely related. I didn’t feel like explaining myself to him and just left quietly after saying something like “Hm, I was just making a conversation”. I felt like saying “Hm I was just making a conversation. I didn’t know only relevant things were allowed here”. It was an informal talk like chit chat.

Anyway. It kind of sucks, because it seems hostile. It doesn’t happen to me often but sometimes and it sticks to my mind, because “unpleasantness” you know.

It’s a technique used by shitty people to dismiss others. That’s indefensibly rude and obnoxious.

But there are also people who habitually contribute unsolicited and irrelevant opinions to a focused discussion. That can be irritating to others as well.

In life, it’s best to exercise enough self awareness so that you don’t come across as either one of these people.

I do that occasionally, but only to dicks. And usually when they completely miss the point entirely. Like in a discussion about the finer points of trade policy there might be somebody who decides to hop in and say “Obummer sent my job to China! You snowflake liberls didn’t say anything then!” And, well, “How is that relevant?” is about the only polite way to respond to that sort of interruption.

I think when someone stuns you with a hurtful remark out of nowhere like that, it’s likely they are a disturbed person. I would silently withdraw my offer of being someone who is available to her for sharing friendly chit-chat with. Who needs it, right?

There are a lot o people in the world that don’t do “casual conversation”. For these people, communications have a purpose and a goal. If what you’re saying doesn’t advance the goal and fulfill the purpose, you’ll be told that you’re off-topic and that you should get back on-topic or the discussion is just a waste of time.

Seems to me that you might have engaged in idle chat with someone who doesn’t do idle chat, so they’re predictably irritated that you’re wasting their time and limited communications budget*.

*By which I mean, they spend as little time possible interacting with people because it’s tiring, high-effort, low-value, and non-productive. So if you’re making them talk for reasons that don’t justify the effort, you’re wasting their limited allowance of interpersonal interaction.

“Disturbed”? Where did your get your psychiatry degree? In my humble opinion, someone who insists on pointless social interaction is disturbed, but a least I clearly understand and disclaim that it’s my opinion.

If the person you’re trying to chit-chat up doesn’t desire chit-chat, leaving it alone would certainly be best. But huffing about it is useless.

I say all of this as a person who has forced himself out of this tendency to focus entirely on functionally productive talk. 20 years ago, if you had tried to strike up friendly chat, I’d either mumble and try to move on, or try to ascertain why we were talking. And “friendly chat” wouldn’t be a legitimate reason. If you’re not trying to gain information from me, give information to me, or strike up a working collaboration on a goal, we shouldn’t be talking.

I outgrew that because while the career I chose (computer programming) is full of shoe-gazing non-people-persons, the profession I chose (active duty military service) doesn’t allow that. A lot of the most talented technical minds trying to make it in military service get separated for reasons like “failure to adapt to military life” because of resistance to socialization. I adapted, but not in any kind of “Damascus road” epiphany that social communications is just the best thing ever, only that I need to be able to pretend I’m a social person long enough to get through the unavoidable social moments.

That’s right. When I’m apparently a good social conversationalist, I’m acting. I’m faking. And it’s really tiring. So if you’re trying to talk my ear off after I’m already tired and impatient, you may still get the “why does this matter” brush-off. Sorry, but sometimes I have to revert to who I really am: a non-social goal-oriented functionalist. A nerd. A geek. Your patience would be appreciated, but at the core it isn’t necessary, because that’s all just more of that social shit.