"There's a first time for everything" is a phrase I secretly smirk about. Same thing with "It's a full moon tonight." Stating the obvious just to fill up gaps in conversation makes me think of the phrase "Two ears and one mouth — to listen twice as much as we speak." I firmly believe more can be learned with a prolonged silence in a conversation than inane rambling.
I often sit and watch people speak, tuning out their words entirely just to be able to watch body language. I have the luxury at work to be able to work while wearing headphones when I'm on the computer, and there are days where the earbuds rarely leave my ears. More often than not, just the act of putting in earbuds (even without music turned on) creates an invisible sound wall around me as people assume I can't hear them.
Watching people behave around you when they believe you are "tuned out" is far more interesting. For example, the social awkwardness of standing in line at the bank disappears, and people just stand silently without trying to make small talk just to fill a void. Singing along to (my daughter's) Justin Bieber CD at the top of my lungs doesn't seem so embarrassing when other drivers think you are just talking to someone on the microphone/earbuds.
And the fabulous silence when you turn the music off, or turn on your "Do Not Disturb" button ... Ahh, just time to concentrate. When I was a child, an ear infection, complications and surgery left me with what I call my "deaf spot" in my left ear. I learned early on to watch people's mouths as they talk to reinforce what I was hearing with my good ear. I say this not because I have any problems or challenges with this, but because I find it amusing that as I watch people's mouths when they talk they will often cover their mouth or touch their hand to their lips.
I believe this is some type of subconscious reaction to having someone watch their mouth. I truly think it makes people uncomfortable. I was always taught to look at someone's eyes or face while they are speaking, but from watching other people it seems many others were not taught this, or have forgotten it somewhere along the lines.
For as much time as we spend filling silence with music or talking or "background noise", I think just as much time should be spent in silence. Otherwise we would never truly appreciate hearing a haunting call from a loon, or the hypnotic buzz of crickets when they're out in force or the soft breathing of a sleeping baby on your shoulder. Even the sound of a car tire slowly crunching autumn leaves on the street is something to appreciate. Silence can definitely be golden, and when you tune yourself out for awhile you begin to hear what you've been missing.