What can you do in either of these situations to get everyone talking again? Simple! Just initiate a circle jerk.
Everyone loves a circle jerk. What's a circle jerk, you ask, being as you are not exactly hip to the lingo and such? Literally, it is when a group of males stand in a circle and each jerks off the person next to him. I do not suggest you initiate this at weddings and private parties. No, in this circumstance, a circle jerk is the type of conversation where everyone just agrees and agrees and agrees with each other. There is no debate, no disagreement, no nay-saying; just everyone telling each other how right they are, harder and harder and faster and faster until ... well, you know.
Here are some topics that are guaranteed circle jerk initiators. Break the ice and be a hero!
1. "People who try to merge onto the freeway at low speeds are the worst! Learn to drive already!"
Nobody likes a shitty driver, and there are few more widely accepted symptoms of bad-driver-itis than trying to merge onto the freeway at 40mph while traffic flies past you at 65.
So if you hit one of those conversational hiccups where everything goes quiet, try announcing that "this morning, some guy tried to kill me on my way to work!" Tell everyone how slowly they were merging onto the freeway, and without even looking. Maybe add on that you saw them trying to type something into their iPhone at the time (using your phone while driving? Ummm, why not just hit the self destruct button, buddy!).
Watch the circle jerk develop, as everyone in the group shares their own story of bad drivers trying to murder them. Nobody will ever defend the bad drivers -- they're like murderers only worse. There is no 'other side of the story'. There is no fair and balanced. There is only doling out vitriol towards a completely anonymous and probably mostly invented other driver. "The jackass in the white Lexus SUV" is happy to play the villain in your story, and everyone will agree with you so hard they'll need new pants afterwards.
Completely accurate non-exaggerated artist's rendering of that motherf***er who cut you off yesterday.
The entire party will soon be putty in your hands. You will be a hero for initiating this feel-good dick stroking fiesta.
2. "Parents need to stop letting their kids run wild in restaurants!"
It can be tough to initiate a good "parents need to ____" circle jerk, because there are lots of parental apologists out there and all it takes is one to destroy your circle jerk.
This is 100% true, holy shit. If you see a parent "doing nothing" while their kid has a meltdown in Target, realize that they're (hopefully) not a shitty parent; they've just figured out that the only way to get their kid to knock it off is to refuse to give them the attention they seek.
So you don't want to complain about kids in the grocery store, or kids on an airplane, or kids who might possibly have mental issues that make it difficult to control their behavior. If you blame the kid, or talk about how much you dislike children, people will not be on your side and your circle jerk will never leave the ground.
The issue is with the parents -- specifically, shitty parents who clearly don't discipline their children ever, and even encourage their children's terrible behavior because they find it amusing. And if you want to start this kind of circle jerk, mentioning kids who run wild in restaurants is almost always a safe topic.
Nobody is about to defend the parents of a kid who throws food everywhere while running around a restaurant screaming and tripping the wait staff. And everyone has a story about horribly misbehaved children in restaurants. There's 'kid who won't stop screaming and the parents do nothing'; there's 'kid who paints the walls with ketchup and the parents just laugh and think it's funny'; there's 'older kid who curses aggressively at the waitress and the parents think it's the funniest thing they've ever heard'; the list goes on and on.
And are you starting to get a little salty right now, picturing a kid squirting ketchup all over the booth and walls while its parents laugh and encourage the behavior? ME TOO! Everyone gets salty about that! This particular circle jerk is great because it really gets everyone involved -- parents and non. The non-parents can gloat about how they don't have kids so they don't have to deal with this shit. The parents can gloat about how their own children are absolute angels in public (due to their unbelievably great parenting, of course) and would never dream of doing something like this. Everyone can gloat about how well-behaved they personally were as children, and then turn it into a discussion of "kids these days" and "entitlement" and pretty soon the circle jerk is a mad frenzy of mutual masturbation and you are its KING.
3. "Comcast sucks!"
Have you ever had Comcast as your cable provider or ISP? Have you ever had to call their customer service, or have a technician come to your house to install or fix something? If not, do you know anyone that has?
If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, then you know that Comcast sucks and you could probably go on for at least ten minutes uninterrupted about the exact nature and degree of their suckitude.
And so can everyone else you know.
So if the party gets quiet, mention how your internet service has been spotty lately and you're thinking you might need to call Comcast customer service to get them to come out and look at it.
The party will not be quiet again for at least an hour.
I didn't even have to make this. I just googled it and there it was.
4. "Tourists are fools!"
Even though we've all probably been a tourist somewhere at some point in our lives, that doesn't give us even the slightest bit of empathy for tourists who visit our neck of the woods.
Tourists are idiots. They stand in the way of things; they don't follow local customs and are a nightmare on public transport; they ask stupid questions and talk too loudly; they dress stupid and wear socks with sandals (it's okay when I do it, but don't you even think about it).
F*** tourists, is what I'm getting at. Bring that shit up at your party and watch everyone's faces spread into smiles as they get in on that sweet sweet tourist-bashing action.
YOU'RE A JACKASS AND EVERYONE HATES YOU AND I HATE YOU THE MOST.
5. "You know who sucks? Roommates!"
Roommates who don't clean up after themselves. Roommates who steal your food. Roommates who bring weird strangers over into your house. Roommates who let their weird boyfriends move in and sit on your couch in their boxers all day watching Botched marathons. Roommates who move out and stick you with the bill for the damage they caused to the place.
Shitty roommates are everywhere, and even if you've never had one, you've certainly got at least ten stories about other people's bad roommates.
This circle jerk is my favorite. The stories are usually so funny, and so frustrating, and they make me want to laugh and scream and choke a stranger. And there are so many of them! It can go on for hours! Literally hours!!!
F*** anyone who thinks this is an acceptable way to leave a shared kitchen.
So yeah ... what's your best 'bad roommate' story? You know you've got one, and I've got time to listen. :-)
Circle jerk on, my friends. Good luck.