Let’s talk about something that matters

Illustration by Miles Huffman

It’s easy to talk about people, because we are people.

We can relate and we can compare, but we often judge.

“Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people,” Eleanor Roosevelt said.

I discussed this quote in depth with my friend Max, who is studying psychology at Chico State.

“Are we implying that conversation centered on other people, or even other things, is not valuable?” Max said.

In the right context, any topic can produce a worthwhile conversation.

Hot new movies, Brian Williams and what’s for lunch all make fantastic small talk. At times, casual conversation is all that’s needed.

But ideas that promote intense thinking will consistently expand the mind and encourage growth. Grasping these concepts is easier through discussion; hence, “great minds discuss ideas.”

I’m not talking about joining the hippie brothers and sisters under the trees in Bidwell Park and philosophizing about “life, man.”

Although, it couldn’t hurt to try just once.

But a certain satisfaction comes with wrapping your head around a puzzling concept — like knowledge is power and for a moment you are “Bruce Almighty.”

Students have great minds. But like the body, the mind must be exercised.

Think about it.

All students are required to take one semester of critical thinking. Aside from that, the staff at Chico State is an extrinsic force motivating students to ask questions, to employ critical thinking and to learn.

In classrooms, students are free to discuss ideas as they please.

But after college, graduates must find an intrinsic desire to discuss ideas, or let the nature of gossip control their daily dialogue.

Yes, on occasion everyone is guilty of discussing people.

On Tuesday morning, after finding out my class was canceled, I skipped the books and walked five blocks down Ivy Street to Wildcat Cuts. Stoked as always to see Bill and Bruno managing the barbershop, I took my rightful place in the salon chair farthest from the window. I’m more of a talker than a people-watcher.

Bruno and I began to rap about Brian Williams’ six-month suspension from NBC. It didn’t take long for Bill to voice his opinion.

By the time I left the shop, I had told more rumors about Brian Williams than he spread about himself.

That conversation inspired laughter, but at the core was nothing more than celebrity gossip.

While our conversation on NBC’s scandal-plagued anchor did not impact our day in a negative way, perhaps we could have learned a few things from a more thoughtful subject.

It’s easy to talk about people, but a great mind thinks more deeply.

Miles Inserra can be reached at [email protected] or @m_inserra on Twitter.