The question is not always (or even usually) this blunt. It is what people are trying to find out. Not just "what do you do?" but "what difference does what you do make to you and to other people?"
This is a quotation from The Elsewhere Community - the Massey Lectures delivered by Hugh Kenner in 1997:
"All humans, by their nature," said Aristotle, "desire to know." A special and unparalleled way to know is to go where you've never been. And the key to this quest for knowledge is "elsewhere." In going there, you join. . . an "Elsewhere Community." It's a concept that is impossible to define strictly. It can name where you dream of going -- where bluebirds fly, perhaps. Or it can describe the people you've met somewhere, memories of whom have helped to change you. Or it's an awareness of your own growth and change. . ."
This is the point of my work: I actively participate in an Elsewhere Community. I desire to know and I welcome others into a community that desires to know and that is willing to go 'elsewhere' in order to feed that desire (it is not the kind of desire that can be satisfied, anymore than the need for food is satisfied because we eat).