Sic Transit Gloria Bantz

Photograph: 'Fake Laughter' Joselito Tagarao

Alright, you want a bit of banter, do you?! Well, get on the banter bus which is on the way to Banterville via Banterbury cross. I love the banter me; or as it’s commonly known in certain circles as the ‘bantz’. I can’t get enough of it. You don’t even have to pay me in pound sterling, just bantzcoin lol. Oh, god, I love some mental banter with the lads and ladettes. BANTER! BANTER! BANTER! BANTER! BBBAAANNNTTTEEERRR!!!

The words that I have written above are a total and utter fabrication. I utterly despise banter. Not the humorous conversation between people you are familiar with, which is the traditional and proper definition of the term ‘banter’ at least as defined by the Oxford English Dictionary. The sort of pleasant, light-hearted and time-limited back and forth between family, friends and colleagues that can often produce happy memories or progress the working day to its glorious end.

No, it’s this insipid, vapid and enforced version of ‘banter’ that I have issues with. Just another one of my niggling hatreds of 21st-century life, along with the term ‘microaggression’, automated checkouts and Weetabix breakfast drinks.

Now no matter where I go, ‘banter’ is everywhere, ably assisted and aided (as with most negatives in post-modern life) by social media and the internet. Most female dating profiles now have ‘banter’ as a prerequisite requirement. Up there with ‘muscular build’, ‘interest in poetry’, ‘beard’ and ‘successful career’ (good luck with that last one, ladies). You mark my words, it won’t be long before you’re asked to put in your suggested level of ‘banterbility’ into a romantic compatibility test at some point, stating how much enforced, inane, ‘humorous’ noise you can stomach before you lapse into a life-preserving coma. Actually, that’s not a bad idea. If you are one of the tedious people who actually use the term ‘banter’ you might meet someone equally obnoxious and dull and then remove yourself from the dating scene, saving the rest of humanity from your personality thus further preserving the gene pool from further degradation…and find yourself true love in the process. We all win.

In my more nightmarish premonitions, I can foresee vivid images of a grey urban future dystopia, where workplace application forms include the statement: ‘On a scale of 1-10 how much do you enjoy the banter?’. Or interview questions that include ‘How receptive are you to a bit of banter?’ and ‘As a person, how important is banter to you?’. When you ask for feedback from a potential employer, they will reply with: ‘it was lovely to meet you and thank you for attending. Even though we were impressed with your conduct and experience, we felt that the position would be better suited to someone who is more familiar with the banter.’

In twenty-five years time, a holographic avatar called ‘Bob the Banter’ will be projected from billboards onto the litter-strewn streets as you make your way home from work to your tiny studio flat, situated at the end of the corridor on ‘level 3: workers accommodation’.

The populace will be forced to take random emotional base-line tests with a Voight-Kampf machine in a similar manner to the replicants in Bladerunner (Banter within banter, Interlinked) to see how they respond. Those that don’t show the correct emotional response to the ‘banter’ will be either exiled or ‘retired’ upon sight by specialist police units. No point in trying to re-educate people who don’t do banter. They’re obviously defective.

It’s going to happen someday and I want to be the prophet that warned you. Don’t say you didn’t have enough time to prepare for the inevitable.

The term as it’s used in everyday parlance now reeks of this slight sense of enforced jollity, sort of like an awful corporate away day. Something that if you don’t possess it in abundance and spout it with reckless abandon you won’t get that promotion and be ostracised by your peers. No one really wants to ‘banter’ all the time, even the most insufferable banter lover. It’s okay to have a pleasant conversation without it being funny at every opportunity. You don’t live in a sitcom.

Well, most of us don’t. Now with social media, some people think they do and alter their behaviour for their offline and online ‘audience’ where ‘banter’ is particularly well suited to short, pithy, back and forth remarks with total strangers.

If something is as false and forced as much of the perceived ‘banter’ is nowadays, it isn’t worth saying anyway and it’s okay not to say it. It’s also more important, and polite, to actually listen to what the other person is saying, rather than attempting to think of another witty repartee to someone else’s thoughts. In fact, if you’re genuinely having a nice time you won’t even need to banter and if you do you won’t even recognise it as such.

However, I’m prepared to admit a bit of fault here. I’m a bit of an introvert. Small talk with those I’m unfamiliar with is always a bit strained. Perhaps I’m on the wrong side of history in my total rejection of the ‘bantz’ and our societal obsession with it. I expect it isn’t going to be the first time this will happen to me as I fall further into the 21st Century and my early middle age.

However, as an initial judgement on someone’s character, if they use the phrase ‘I love the banter, me’, we cant be friends. I’m sorry. Please don’t contact me.


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David Bone 29 Articles
David is a graduate of the University of Stirling and holds a BA (Hons) in politics. Since graduating he has been employed in the third sector. His writing interests include Scottish and British politics, international relations, ideologies and megatrends.

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