Apparently, starting a sentence among coworkers with the words, "You know, I read an article..." has the same effect on a lively conversation as the sudden, untraceable stench of really bad gas: uncomfortable silence.
The other day I was in a meeting with a bunch of people we didn't know very well with whom we will be working closely and whose close cooperation we really need over the next 18-24 months. We were waiting for the meeting to start, so naturally the conversation turned to the children's television program, Blue's Clues.
As one of the few people in the room that hasn't actually had a child, of course it was me who informed the group that striped-shirt Steve was no longer on the show, that he "had gone away to college." I don't know where I pick up all this random information, but trust me, I have a lot of it. It was an innocuous conversation, and everyone was participating pretty enthusiastically.
But then I said, "You know, I read somewhere (not somewhere, it was Malcom Gladwell's The Tipping Point, but I didn't want to go all-out nerd with an attribution) that there was a lot of research and testing that went into the format of Blues Clues and that its particular format really helps kids that age learn, and it's pretty ground-breaking television for little kids."
Silence. Choked the life right out of that conversation.
A few days ago my team and I were having lunch together and shooting the breeze about how we were so sick of studying. I brought up how The Hunger Games made more than $150 million on its opening weekend. No one had heard of the series. So I started describing the premise. They seemed kind of interested until I said, "I read an article that the author used to work in television and the whole series is structured in some ways like a play or show, into threes, and so in some ways a natural translation to screen, but despite that, some people are saying they really didn't do a good job translating it to film..."
The sound of crickets was deafening.
I didn't hear myself in those situations, but just seeing my own words here is starting to bore me. I'd better keep my reading to myself.