S1E5 - How to help thousands of people have deep conversations with Ashley Kirsner

Friendship Futurism

Jul 18 2022 • 52 mins

Ashley and I talk about embracing your inner cringe, ways to calm down your nervous system, structures for great social interactions, how to ask good questions, and a philosophy for having fun.

Ashley is the founder of Skip The Small Talk, a research-informed curated social experience with regular events across 8 major cities in the U.S. helping thousands of people connect over deep conversations.


1:00 Vagus Nerve https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vagus_nerve

3:00 Taking work off your hands and weighted blankets

5:00 SNS: Sympathetic Nervous System ("fight or flight") PNS: Parasympathetic Nervous System ("rest and digest")

5:20 Societal structures for making sure you get enough exercise, vegetables, and mindfulness. Communities that meet once a week to cleverly bundle social interaction with getting your basic needs met.

9:50 Systems we can put into place to reduce isolation

10:30 Commentary about cults and cringe. Expanding Skip The Small Talk to more cities, and how to increase accessibility.

12:07 How do we embrace our inner cringe? Earnestness and reducing your self-consciousness.

14:17 Winning at Arguments by Enlarging your PNS https://malcolmocean.com/2013/02/astrology-againstness-video/

14:55 When do communities cross the line from supportive to oppressive? Exclusion and accessibility. Having options for different needs, and traditional communities evolving to make more room for individuality.

20:30 How to use exclusion to curate experiences? Working with people you disagree with, evaluating on a case by case basis vs. sticking to your values.

27:13 Cold showers and wireheading

27:33 tVNS: Transcutaneous Vagus Nerve Stimulation device https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vagus_nerve_stimulation https://zenofsleep.com/products/copy-of-ces-max-ces-device-for-insomnia-anxiety-alpha-wave-stim-therapy https://www.parasym.co/

30:17 What was Ashley's most embarrassing failure?

34:03 Prompt cards, 36 questions to fall in love http://36questionsinlove.com/ https://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/09/style/no-37-big-wedding-or-small.html

35:04 What do people consider to be a personal question?

37:03 How does Ashley ask good questions? I sharing vs. I statements vs. I message https://doi.org/10.1177/0265407518769435 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I-message

40:22 How does Bill ask good questions? Information gain ratio and 20 questions https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twenty_questions

43:22 Twisting boring questions in fun way. Good answers do a favour to your conversation partner vs. not wanting to "take up space" in the conversation.

46:08 Are you satisfied with your friendships?

47:54 What is fun? Recess for adults.

Boston Globe article about how Skip The Small Talk started https://www.bostonglobe.com/2022/06/29/lifestyle/feeling-weird-about-socializing-skip-small-talk-wants-help/

Research study on Skip The Small Talk https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8462490/

Check out Skip The Small Talk at: https://www.skipthesmalltalk.com

Follow Bill Mei via email: https://billmei.net/email

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