What exactly IS a shallow person?

I’ve been having trouble grasping the concept of describing this using proper language, and may be in fact be using the term incorrectly to begin with. It all just seems so abstract to me…

Before I delve into my incomprehensible wall of thinking, let me just get aside that it isn’t exactly the standard definition of “surface-leveled” or “cannot think deeply” or “only thinks about themselves.” These people can function fine in educational institutions and carry their weight in intellectual discussion or whatnot, but their general conversational style in a sense is “shallow.”

There are some people that post or talk about things that don’t really “benefit” us in any way per say, but perhaps they believe it themselves (ex. “Look at this funny joke I just found!” “Hey guys I just found this awesome website! Click on the link for a great time!” “Haha these cat pictures are so funny!”)

Now I’m probably gonna come off as hypocritical asshole or something, but I would describe them using terms such as “conversationally inexperienced” (although not exactly; they can speak fine) and “predominately a small talker” (although not exactly; they can speak more deeply).

Another thing to get out of the way, “attention whore” generally isn’t the right phrase I’m looking for, although some of them CAN be considered that.

So…two things:

  1. Does anyone know what the hell I’m talking about?
  2. What’s your definition of shallow / whatever the hell I’m talking about?
  1. No
  2. Hal?

Never mistake people who choose not to speak of deeper things, with you, for people who cannot speak of deeper things.

Assuming the second, is actually judging people in a way that makes* you* look a little shallow. Hey, maybe it’s you!

I think I know what you are trying to describe, though when you talk of the conversation being of no interest “to us” you run the risk of universalizing your personal tastes and interests. There are some people after all who genuinely like forwarded joke e-mails from 2002.

Nevertheless, I’m having trouble coming up with a single word to describe the type: banal, trite, and pedestrian come close, but perhaps considering the psychological roots of the problem the best descriptor is “socially inept”. Or I’d say, “Her conversations are always very surface,” which is the same as saying “shallow”, but without implying selfishness.


Hold on there. I realize that “shallow” is a pretty subjective term, which is why I asked for other people’s interpretations in the first place.

And isn’t saying that shallow people are people who call people shallow pretty much circular logic? Aren’t you shallow for saying I’m shallow because I use the label “shallow” to potentially describe some people? :rolleyes:

Right. Sorry, by “to us,” I was trying to establish some sort of “majority” in certain tastes/interests. Of course, that’s not exactly something that can be firmly established, which is why I’m having a hard time thinking of how to explain this to begin with.

Your words seem to work pretty well, although what would the majority consider “dull”? Lots of people (assumption) don’t find things that take a high amount of intellect to understand very interesting, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the people that talk about said subjects are necessarily shallow. Quite the opposite, perhaps.

Of course, “dull” has multiple denotations in itself…ugh.

You have to be pretty deep to disappear up your own arse like that.

The first thing that came to mind was Eleanor Roosevelt saying,

“Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.”.

So I searched out a page of her quotes just to confirm it and found,

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

Consent or no, I fear I may be shallow.

Why would you ask such a silly question?
Let’s go buy some donuts. I like the ones with sprinkles.

There are trivial people and there are small-minded people, which are different from each other and also different from shallow people… does that help?

I guess I am. I love them, you can sub them for onions almost anytime and saute up really well. Also, they add the most lovely…
Oh. Thought it said shallot.

Wasn’t there a thread disproving this quote as inaccurately oversimplified to begin with?

I guess…except now there would be two MORE terms that I’d have to figure out definitions for…

What is a shallot person??? :dubious:

Wasn’t he a film critic?

No, it’s like that medieval lady in a boat. The one Tennyson wrote about.

I’m a little confused at what you are getting at, and what you are asking, but I’ll try to answer the OP.

In general usage, a shallow person is considered to be someone who is more concerned with the surface than the deep…more interested in the clothes someone is wearing than what kind of person they are. More influenced by someone’s looks than by their behavior. More concerned about the brand of clothing than the quality of its construction. More impressed by how much something cost rather than its actual value.

Shallow people don’t tend to discuss or have opinions on politics or the Big Issues of our times…they are more concerned with popular culture and popularity in particular. They don’t tend to have a lot of use for books or newspapers or education past a certain point. They don’t tend to have hobbies that are un-trendy, and they don’t really care a whole lot about the problems and feelings and needs of other people. The things that are important to them are the things that concern them personally and only. They are much more worried about what people think about them based on their clothes, their hair, their makeup, their car, and less concerned that people might think badly of them for their behavior or their intellect.

There just isn’t a whole lot going on under their surface. What you see is really all there is about them to see.

Yeah, like duh?!


I think I kind of get what you’re talking about. I have one or two Facebook friends where almost all their posts are just kind of… there. Where they’re all some mundane life-trivia like “I got a C on my biology test today! It could have been so much worse, thank you Jesus!” (almost an actual quote). “I’m so glad I got to spend time with family today!” etc. It feels like there’s just not much there there, they never post anything thought provoking or funny or cool – just short summaries of their days.

However, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. I think that’s what Facebook was kind of made for, it’s a bit silly to use Facebook to discuss Grand Ideas™, which is a trap some of my friends and I fall into. (Though admittedly 90% of it is jokes, wit, and snark). Where what they’re posting feels almost like filler, rather than content – where reading it just gives the response “okay, that’s cool I guess” rather than laughter, interest, or provoking any thought.

Like I said, I logically don’t think it reflects negatively on them, and I doubt they’re like that in person (it’s been a long time since I’ve talked with them in person), but I certainly understand the feeling.

I think the writing style is often a culprit too. I have a couple of friends who post a LOT just about their lives, even about their religious going-ons, but it never struck me as vapid. I think there’s a specific type of phrasing or word choice or something that makes the (probably unfounded) feeling happen. I think it’s a curse, like this one girl in my old English class who tended to make really profound, interesting points in a manner that somehow made it feel like you were hearing the stupidest thing ever conceived.

Wow, it looks like you’ve pretty much nailed my first question in reference to the standard definition. Thank you kittenblue. :slight_smile:

It does leave me wondering though if we’d consider these sorts of people in a sense to be “lesser” than those who DO actively engage in supposedly deeper thoughts and concepts. Those that contribute to the advancement of society, rather than to just go with the flow; fulfilling the basic physiological needs, and then not really doing much else that’s “important.” On the other hand, are we ever really in the position to judge exactly how one should be contributing to society, as long as they’re happy?

You think you do? You’ve pretty much spot on nailed my first question to a degree that I would haven’t been able to word out myself!

I’ll admit that I’ve fallen into your explanation of the “trap” where I’m expecting a bit more…“content” (I am REALLY abusing these quotation marks aren’t I). I guess the feeling’s a deal greater for me when there’s a lot more than just one or two people posting relatively meaningless blabber (although it could be considered my fault for befriending them on FB in the first place? :dubious:), as well as feeling some of this in regular conversation, directly or indirectly.

But again, who am I to judge? It just kinda irks me, per say. I can’t really pair them with the traditional meaning of shallow, but a lot of that feeling is there.

A shallow person has different trivial interests than you do.