Re: No really, I'm funny.

1

When you tell your jokes, try channeling Sam Kinison.


Posted by: Todd | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 7:24 AM
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I wonder if I get away with more because I'm non-straight or if I'm pushier than you are or what. I definitely know what you mean about jokes being ignored, but feel like usually mine get through.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 7:25 AM
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Okay, so, as a man, here's the funniest thing about this:


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 7:31 AM
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I think I finally figured out why people don't laugh at my jokes. It's because I'm too good-looking.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 7:31 AM
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LOL Sifu!


Posted by: Tom Scudder | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 7:36 AM
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Shit, I think I contribute to this problem. I'll keep it in mind and try to watch out for it.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 7:37 AM
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Usually, I don't think of sexism as directly affecting me much. But this exact sort of thing is something that's either some particular personality dysfunction of mine, or sexism. Groups of, say, four or fewer, male or female, I can get as much conversational space as I want. A really large group like a class, so that there's some semiformal way of acknowledging whose turn it is to speak, I'm fine. But largish informal groups with men in them, I can't get a word in edgewise, and if I just start talking, I get talked over as if I weren't there.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 7:39 AM
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We had an all-day meeting thing yesterday that, you will be glad to hear, was completely conversationally dominated by two women. In this particular instance it made the meeting kind of dramatically less efficient and useful than it could have been, but the reasons for that have nothing to do with gender.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 7:43 AM
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There's a similar phenomenon with non-joke comments in general - there is a heightened barrier to acknowledgment, where I feel like I have to be louder and more aggressive than I'm otherwise inclined to be

Yup. I don't have a super recent example of this, but I had a HS physics class that functioned more in a yell-out-the-answers than a raise-your-hand way, and my answers never got heard. This guy who sat next to me started repeating whatever I had just said and had ignored, and he would get acknowledged by the teacher and the rest of the class. And he would then say, "Blume just said that." And somehow the conversation still would just keep going on, even though he was pointing that out.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 7:45 AM
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Interesting. I find that jokes fall flatter, or fail to win attention, in larger groups, but I suppose that women would suffer that in aggravated fashion because they are already struggling against the feminine-attention-deficit problem. I wonder whether non-white people would report the same problem.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 7:45 AM
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but quieter men probably face the same dilemma there, and also I don't have my ego on the line in quite the same way

Thoughtful of you to include this, because I've had the same experience all my life, without a ready-made explanation for it. And since my voice actually carries quite well, I don't think loudness is the issue either. The worst, as you say, is making a joke, and then hearing a few minutes later a version of the same joke getting a laugh.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 7:47 AM
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Used to drive me batshit in law school. In pretty much all of my classes, during the actual class discussion I was generally recognized as one of the people who knew things and had useful insights (NYU didn't use the word gunner, and I honestly don't think I was annoying, but I definitely had a lot to say.) Informal conversations about legal issues outside of class, I could talk to women, or to one man at a time, but any group with more than one man in it, I could listen but not talk.

Come to think, that's one of the things I like so much about socializing online. There's no informal way to get shut out of a conversation.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 7:47 AM
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So, anyhow, Flip:


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 7:48 AM
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There's no informal way to get shut out of a conversation

How about making a point, perhaps one of several in a paragraph, and then a few comments later have someone else make it, and that comment launching a discussion and numbered responses?


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 7:49 AM
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It's not entirely different, but it's not the same as being literally unable to get a sentence out of your mouth without being talked over. Text-based communication, you can say what you have to say, and know that it has at least been perceived by the people you're trying to communicate with.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 7:52 AM
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6 is very nice. I'm absolutely not funny, so I don't have the same problem. I'm also fond of dark and deadpan humor, which is easily misunderstood, so I've pretty much given up. Deadpan sucks when you have to make it unmistakable that you're kidding. I've been incredibly lucky to have had profs and bosses who tuned out people talking over me.


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 7:54 AM
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I wonder whether people who are relating this remember when it started happening. I remember starting college after an all-girls high school and noticing how the other women in my classes would sort of look around to see if a man had raised his hand before raising their own. I remember thinking, "Come ON, you're smarter than he is just by definition!" even though that's not necessarily true, but I didn't have the same self-censoring tendency didn't get disregarded as much as other women and attribute it to that, fairly or not.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 7:55 AM
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15:

You're right to the extent it stays there, so someone might respond to it later. I'll have the experience of 14, and then hours later find a piece of my comment quoted and commented on. In the moment, though...


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 7:57 AM
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Text-based communication, you can say what you have to say

This is true...

and know that it has at least been perceived by the people you're trying to communicate with.

... but wha? There's an entire convention here around calling out the fact that the people you're trying to communicate with haven't perceived your comment.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 8:02 AM
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I think that this place is a medium like twitter, brevity wins, simple sentences and simple paragraphs are better.

Ironically, this is a pretty good place to get intelligible opinion about long-form writing.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 8:02 AM
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Story from way back in the archives, about my single-sex calculus class. It's the same sort of thing that Blume was dealing with in 9.

It's funny, though -- that, where there's a teacher or something acting as a gatekeeper on what gets acknowledged, I've specifically never had trouble breaking through. It's the informal group thing that kills me.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 8:03 AM
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17: I was teaching classes last weekend and it was noticeable that when I called on female students to answer a question they would answer it with another question: "What is another type of burn?" A. "Is it chemical burns?" rather than just saying "chemical burns" which is what the male students would tend to say.

Also included this terrific exchange:
Me: "... so V means that the casualty isn't obviously alert but will still respond when you talk to them - move, make noise, open their eyes or whatever. The third level of alertness on the AVPU scale is P for pain; the casualty won't respond when you talk to them, but they'll still respond to pain."
Student 1: "Like my boyfriend."


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 8:05 AM
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The link in my last comment is for some reason going to the right thread, but not the right comment, which is 23:

When I was in high school, some of the calculus teachers attempted to do a study on single-sex math education (the study was terminated because one of the teachers had health problems part of the way through it.)

The BC Calculus classes were divided into three classes, all male, all female, and a co-ed class, and research assistants were placed in the back of each class tallying who participated by gender. I was in the girls' class, and an assistant who tallyed participation in the co-ed class. In the co-ed class, participation was 10-1 male to female, and the freaky thing was that it looked entirely normal -- if I'd been just watching the class, rather than making tally marks whenever anyone said anything, I would have said that girls participated as much as boys.

In the girls class, it was a graveyard for the first month or so -- I participated, but no one else did. After about a month, everyone perked up, and suddenly it was a normal class again, with as much student participation as the coed class. Then, in February, the boys' teacher got sick, and the male and female classes had to be recombined.

It was a zoo for about three weeks. Students shouting, talking over each other; it was a completely disfunctional environment. It was hard to describe what was going on, but it was loud and weird and unruly. After about three weeks of that, all the girls (except me) shut up again, and it was a normal class again.

The whole experience was very strange.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 8:06 AM
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Student 2: "Huh. My girlfriend won't even respond to pain."
Student 3: "That's not what I've heard."


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 8:06 AM
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I'm reasonably OK at making myself heard in groups of all sizes -- I have a voice that I can make cut through/over other people, if I need to. But I've certainly seen the phenomenon under discussion happen to women (in particular), and quieter men, often.

Not at all women, though. I can think of a few people I know who take over every conversation, and are the most prominent voice, no matter the audience. A friend's wife is a very funny, witty person, but she's bloody loud, too, and if there's any group conversation happening, she is going to be at the centre of it.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 8:07 AM
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26

Inadvertently I talked right over LB there. That wasn't intentional, it was a crossposting.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 8:09 AM
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15: But what if everybody just ignores what you say, because they've decided they don't like you. The only thing to do is change your pseud.
But, then they figure out who you are and they hate you even more.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 8:09 AM
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26: That's the beautiful thing about blog comments. No, you actually didn't -- mine is right there, still. If we were doing this in person, I would have interrupted you and spoiled the timing on the second half of your funny story, but as it is that didn't happen either.

27: I'm not saying it solves all interpersonal problems. It's still possible to be ignored, or for people to dislike you or be mean to you or think you're boring. But this specific one, of being unable to break into a conversation, it solves.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 8:13 AM
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I have a bet with myself as to whether or not anyone will acknowledge 19.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 8:18 AM
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29: You won.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 8:19 AM
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31

18 to 29.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 8:19 AM
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Also, LB, what distinction are you drawing between being ignored and being unable to break into a conversation?


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 8:19 AM
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16: Thanks. I'm in a small social group that meets weekly for lunch whose composition varies but is usually 1-2 women and 3-6 men; I've been conscious that I've unintentionally shut out the women sometimes but haven't gotten to the point of improving my behavior. Someone I follow on Twitter noted that "boys are socialized to interrupt" and that's horrible and doesn't work at all well with those who aren't.

I don't know how everyone else reads here, but if there's a large backlog of posts I haven't seen I'll often read the most recent post and work backwards until I have what I feel is enough context. That probably means, contrary to 15 and sort of agreeing with 18, missing some things and even worse I might end up remaking someone else's point. But at least that isn't gender driven.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 8:20 AM
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It's still possible to be ignored, or for people to dislike you or be mean to you or think you're boring.

Or all of these at once, with a little wordsmithing.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 8:21 AM
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35

33 should also be referencing 19, clearly.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 8:21 AM
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Something else that drives me nuts about this sort of thing is the way it gets attributed to insufficient aggression or self-doubt on the part of the people getting shut out. Something like Blume's experience in 9, or the calculus class I described, whatever was going on wasn't soluble solely by more active participation from the girls. Blume was, in fact, actively participating, and in my calculus class when the girls got into the habit of participating in the single-sex class, and tried to maintain that habit in the coed class, the class broke down completely until the girls stopped talking again.

Same thing in informal conversational groups. People who think they're making space for themselves by being aggressive/assertive and that anyone else could do the same, generally don't see how much cooperation they're getting from other group members. You can interrupt all you like, but if the response to one person interrupting is to shut up and let them talk, while to another is to keep talking as if they hadn't spoken, they're going to have a different level of success communicating that's not explained by different levels of assertiveness.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 8:22 AM
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36: lean in (to headbutt)


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 8:23 AM
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34 to 19?


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 8:23 AM
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I have a bet with myself as to whether or not anyone will acknowledge 19.

That's cheating.

Actually, I was tempted to respond to the discussion about blog-dynamics, but I'm tempted to wait and not interrupt the conversation about medium-group dynamics.

Shit, I think I contribute to this problem. I'll keep it in mind and try to watch out for it.

I've definitely been part of the problem in the past, and tried to make an effort to improve. These days I just don't spend much time in medium-sized groups of people but I do think the dynamic described in the OP is a bad habit that many people (men and women) fall into pretty easily.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 8:24 AM
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Josh, do you think it would help get your point noticed if one of us women repeated it?


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 8:24 AM
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That's cheating.

Yeah, I shoulda put that in 19 itself. Tant pis.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 8:25 AM
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36 makes me think about how the conference calls I'm so often on play out. There's usually only one or two women on the calls, one of whom is new. She'll come to me after the call and say something that she should have said during the call. Mostly, I get annoyed with having to send emails to fix something that could have been done on the call, but at times I'm also annoyed with the patriarchy. Anyway, if there's a good way to tell somebody to be more assertive, it would make my life easier.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 8:26 AM
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32: Literally what I'm talking about, is being able to speak with people's body-language indicating that they're listening and no one else speaking at the same time (not "never being interrupted", but not having someone else speaking during the entirety of what I'm trying to say. When you've got a group of people talking, there's a lot of body language, little noises people make, postural things, to indicate who's going to talk next or who's talking now, and members of the group direct their attention to the person whose 'turn' it is to be talking. In mid-sized groups of people with men in them, I do not successfully command attention, and if I give up on waiting for informal signals that it's my turn to speak and just start talking, whoever else was talking doesn't stop.

Typing, whatever I wanted to say gets said.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 8:26 AM
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44

Plus I'm stuck in boring workshops today and I'd rather be commenting in this thread.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 8:27 AM
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Imagine I closed that parenthesis, somewhere where it would have made sense to.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 8:27 AM
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36.2 is a really good point.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 8:28 AM
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You can interrupt all you like, but if the response to one person interrupting is to shut up and let them talk, while to another is to keep talking as if they hadn't spoken, they're going to have a different level of success communicating that's not explained by different levels of assertiveness

Hear, hear.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 8:28 AM
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44: That's one advantage of conference calls.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 8:28 AM
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I get vehement about this issue when it comes up, because I do find it irritating, and I figure that people who mostly know me online will buy that if it affects me powerfully, while it is still probably something about me in that if I had a different demeanor I could reduce the effect, the explanation isn't a simple lack of assertiveness. Assertiveness and willingness to speak up I have; the non-verbal characteristics and skills that that command attention in groups, I'm lacking.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 8:35 AM
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On a phone call, I wouldn't think that non-verbal skills would matter that much. Non-verbal characteristics probably matter a great deal still.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 8:37 AM
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I used to think I had the gift of invisibility.

It turns out people just find it easy to ignore me.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 8:38 AM
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When you've got a group of people talking, there's a lot of body language, little noises people make, postural things, to indicate who's going to talk next or who's talking now, and members of the group direct their attention to the person whose 'turn' it is to be talking.

Aizuchi! On the phone if you don't keep grunting Japanese sometimes worry you're not listening.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 8:39 AM
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50: Certain non-verbal skills -- like knowing how to turn off mute on your phone.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 8:39 AM
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The worst is when the web site you browse to has an ad where the sound comes on automatically. The software has little indicator for who is talking, so you can't blame it all on somebody else.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 8:41 AM
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Expecting that people will pay attention to you is a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you think people will listen to you, you speak louder, slower, with bigger body language, take up more space, vary your voice up on down, and communicating in that way actually makes people pay attention to you. But if you do those things and people don't pay attention to you, you look like a fool. So people who've gotten positive reinforcement keep doing it and get better at it, and people who don't, don't. That's my theory anyway.


Posted by: dz | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 8:42 AM
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There's certainly some of that -- I don't try very hard to break into conversations in that size group any more. But I'd say less 'self-fulfilling prophecy' and more 'path-dependent based on initial conditions'. Yes, you build up skills for commanding attention based on having been successful in the past, but that initial level of success isn't explained solely by who tried hardest to begin with.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 8:49 AM
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People who heed people are the luckiest people of all.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 8:51 AM
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re: 56

Yeah. I mean there's certain things you can do to maximise some of this stuff, but there are certain in-built advantages that accrue unfairly from gender [and also, I'd guess from age, and seniority within hierarchy, and so on].


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 8:53 AM
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Many of the maximization techniques boil down to "act bigger and more masculine", in the event.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 8:55 AM
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16: I'm also fond of dark and deadpan humor, which is easily misunderstood, so I've pretty much given up. Deadpan sucks when you have to make it unmistakable that you're kidding.

*Raises hand* Howdy, ydnew.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 8:59 AM
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59: this gives me the splendid image of LB, frustrated at being ignored, trying to "make herself look big" like the Cat in Red Dwarf used to do when he felt threatened.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 8:59 AM
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42: Anyway, if there's a good way to tell somebody to be more assertive, it would make my life easier.

Is this someone you're supervising, or at least supervising-ish? You might tell her that you've noticed this has happened a couple of times, and she should email you during the call if she's got a point that she needs to bring up. And then if she does email her back and tell her to just say it on the call (and if she's getting interrupted then, you can do some blocking for her). Still annoying, but a couple of rounds of that might help.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 9:01 AM
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I'm not going to know how to say this sensibly, but there's also managing group dynamics. My old knitting group had one extremely loud, somewhat bossy person who was the clear group leader whenever she was there and dictated where conversation went and so on. When she wasn't, I took that role but (and with the caveat that I've probably inflated things to make myself look good) I tried to pay attention to all the non-verbal signals and make sure everyone was engaged and connecting with the people they needed to be connecting with and getting heard but not dominating the conversation. This often meant not talking all that much myself except to ask questions or make connections or jokes, but that can be a very comfortable role for me and I think I played some version of it in DC last year a lot of the time. If I can pretend I'm a gracious hostess or hetaira or something, I can feel comfortable engaging.

On the other hand, Lee thinks it's incredibly rude that I talk over people in one-on-one conversations with people I think can handle it and can't stand to be around me in groups because she's afraid I might do that and that everyone will think I'm rude and awful, so possibly I'm delusional.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 9:03 AM
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61: pretty much. Sheryl Sandberg should launch a line of branded shoulder pads.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 9:04 AM
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61: I find a steady diet of fried foods and butter works well in this regard.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 9:04 AM
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62.1: Yes. I think there's some cultural differences and unclear hierarchy stuff happening also. I can't really clarify the hierarchy because I don't understand it.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 9:04 AM
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This thread is weirdly closely related to the task I am procrastinating on by commenting. It's making the whole procrastination process confusing.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 9:07 AM
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You can interrupt all you like, but if the response to one person interrupting is to shut up and let them talk, while to another is to keep talking as if they hadn't spoken, they're going to have a different level of success communicating that's not explained by different levels of assertiveness.

And it's so weird when that happens. It feels like you've just made a huge conversational faux pas, because for some length of time you continued to talk at the same time as someone else is talking. But then also it seems like no one else even noticed. (Which goes back to the main issue, of course.)


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 9:10 AM
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59 - oddly enough, I'm large and male and tend to end up pretty much invisible in group social situations, probably because I don't have any of the other embiggening skills.


Posted by: Tom Scudder | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 9:12 AM
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Can you believe it's been almost a year since the Decade-con? It was interesting there to watch the group dynamics of who got listened to and who didn't. I found myself barely acknowledged a lot of the time, especially when we were all sitting in the front room, which is par for the course with me. Any group smaller than 4 I can hold my own in, but once you get up to 5 or 6 people, I tend to get drowned out by louder more assertive people. It was interesting to see how much some people who I think of as just regular commenters wound up dominating things, where as other people who loom large here were relatively quiet.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 9:17 AM
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Illustration of comment 61. Very important life skill.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 9:18 AM
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Any group smaller than 4 I can hold my own in, but once you get up to 5 or 6 people, I tend to get drowned out by louder more assertive people.

I suppose there are legal issues with the obvious solution.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 9:20 AM
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70: As online, I found myself hearing and noticing people I didn't respond to because I didn't know how or when to respond, even though I know that feels silencing. Also, dynamics changed a lot based on drinking habits.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 9:22 AM
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70 is worthless without names.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 9:22 AM
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Well, you two were both much funnier in person.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 9:24 AM
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Not like that's hard!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 9:27 AM
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75 confirms my worst fears about my commenting personality.

76 is just hurtful.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 9:28 AM
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I took that role

This reminds me of an experience that I had a in role-playing game, in one of the most interesting sessions that I've every played. It was summer, I was back home from college (I think summer after Freshman year) and dropping in with the group of people that I played with in HS who continued to game semi-regularly.

I ended up joining the group with a character who was completely different from what I would normally play. In this case somebody who was much less powerful than the rest of the group, but was also somebody with a bit of a chip in his shoulder. Joining the group I realized, in character, that I needed to get the respect of everyone else and needed to do it quickly because otherwise I could just get pushed aside. So I made a conscious effort to try to be as dominant in conversation as possible. That didn't mean that I tried to talk all the time, but I wanted to be the arbiter of how we made decisions.

One of things I did, and was startled by how well it worked, was to actively steal other people's suggestions. Somebody would say, "we could do X." I would reply, "okay, I think there are three basic possibilities, A, B, & X. They all have some strengths and weaknesses, but X is probably our best choice." This was in a group of friends, so nobody was pushing back, but it was remarkable how easy it was. I would say that and everybody would nod and look at me like, "Nick has a plan."

It was particularly interesting because it was such a contrast to my normal experience with that group. I had, at some point, ended up repeatedly having the same annoying experience in several games -- I would be playing somebody who didn't know the other characters well (because lots of games start by getting together a group of characters who don't know each other), we'd begin working together and then something would happen that would make me pause. I'd end up saying, in character, "I don't know that I'm comfortable with this -- I've just met all of you and know we're talking about doing [something horrible]." It was frustrating because, as a player, I wanted to work through that, I certainly intended to go along with the group, but I wanted to have the opportunity to have my character's concerns be acknowledged, and they never were. Almost inevitably everyone would collectively shrug, go on as if I hadn't said anything and I'd be stuck with either having my character separate from the group, or do something that felt profoundly out of character.

So it was particularly notable to have that experience of playing somebody who wasn't interested in or trying to build trust, but, ultimately, just wanted to use the other characters and successfully playing the role of somebody with a totally different social style.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 9:28 AM
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Huh. I am the opposite of heebie. I usually don't have trouble making myself the center of attention in informal social situations with peers, and I crack jokes all the time. (Thinking it over now, though, I'm not sure how I wrest the limelight away from others, or how I defend it once I've got it.) But I have definitely been socialized to let people (or maybe just men?) interrupt me one-on-one or in small groups. This is especially a problem with faculty members and older male relatives.


Posted by: L. | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 9:30 AM
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70: I did actually notice that about you, particularly, that you're more retiring in person than online. Josh and J. Robot were both people who went the other way; bigger presences in person than in text.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 9:30 AM
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Decade-con? . . . Any group smaller than 4 I can hold my own in, but once you get up to 5 or 6 people,

I found myself moving around and switching rooms to be in smaller groups of people and that worked pretty well (but obviously doesn't scale well -- if everyone had ended up in the basement it would have been too crowded).


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 9:32 AM
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80: Yeah, I doubt anyone would describe me as "fascist" online.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 9:35 AM
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Lurking in the kitchen is where I always gravitate. If you're doing something arguably useful, it solves a lot of social problems.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 9:36 AM
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82: Now I'm wondering if I called you a fascist and it's slipped my mind. Perfectly possible -- I was drinking heavily.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 9:37 AM
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83 works even better if you can make good mayonnaise and the other person being arguably useful is grossed out by mayonnaise and happy to delegate it.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 9:38 AM
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84: Not you. But you were right there when it happened.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 9:38 AM
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Decade-con

Can I have a link to a write-up? I've tried searching and don't seem to find anything about this.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 9:38 AM
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82: Wait, did I call you a fascist to your face? I didn't think I was that drunk.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 9:39 AM
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Well, showing up in that SS uniform may have been a bit of a faux pas. I mean, they're very flattering, but people do overinterpret things.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 9:39 AM
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Godfuckingdammit, that is some humiliating pwnage.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 9:40 AM
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82: If you don't get denounced as a fascist far more often online than in real life, either I've completely misunderstood the internet or you're standing around in a brown shirt and jackboots.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 9:40 AM
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90 to 91.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 9:41 AM
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87: Not a coherent one, but the comments of this and the thread below it are what we've got.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 9:41 AM
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idp, most of it should be here but spread across many threads.

I'm pretty sure I didn't call Josh a fascist but definitely said over-earnest drunken things to him.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 9:41 AM
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And that was the expected pwning, not me ignoring LB because she's so girly and ignorable.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 9:42 AM
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87, 93: It was sort of like The Big Chill meets Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 9:43 AM
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94.last: Actually you did! And then immediately afterwards said over-earnest drunken things to me.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 9:45 AM
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93, 94.

Thanks, looks like fun.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 9:47 AM
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78.3 is hilarious insofar as the strategy -- stealing or overstepping attribution of other people's ideas -- is so recognizable, and happens in all sorts of social groups.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 9:48 AM
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97: Oh boy! I hope there was context, but I'm willing to believe there was not.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 9:48 AM
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I found my experience at the decade-con largely the same as online -- mostly listening to other people having interesting conversations. Although it is slightly more awkward in person, since people can see you're there but not saying much.

I find it difficult to talk actively in any social gathering that's large enough to have multiple streams of conversation going on (so as to generate its own background noise). I suspect it's more of a sensory thing than anything else.


Posted by: widget | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 10:06 AM
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That, too, for me. Noisy situations I have trouble with, both hearing and being loud enough for my voice to cut through the noise. And I do always feel conspicuous when I'm listening but not talking.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 10:10 AM
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Noise itself isn't as much of a problem for me, but if there are multiple conversations happening I get quickly overwhelmed and absorb none of them.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 10:12 AM
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Tangentially, I've noticed my awareness of my surroundings decreases drastically when I'm attending to a conversation. This can be a problem when driving, or even crossing a street. Socialization seems to be too much of a cognitive load for me.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 10:16 AM
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Interesting. I have no idea how to talk "to" a group of people. I'll do about 10-25% of the talking one on one, less in a group of three, and won't say anything in a group larger than that. I want to say "what's the point?" but the more thoughtful way to say that is that I think of conversation as a way to learn about someone and build rapport with them, but talking "to" or "in" a group is...something else that I don't really understand. This might just be a long way of saying (oh, the irony) I'm an introvert.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 10:17 AM
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Noisy situations I have trouble with, both hearing and being loud enough for my voice to cut through the noise.

I have a hard time hearing in noisy situations, but (probably because of that) I have absolutely no problem making myself understood. Both by the person/people I'm talking to and the people on the other side of the room.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 10:21 AM
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I have a real loudness problem. It's funny, I don't have any trouble projecting my voice to fill a big room, or over a distance --court's fine. But trying to talk to people at a normal conversational distance in a loud room, it doesn't work well somehow.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 10:26 AM
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106: Your voice has a rather carrying timbre, no?


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 10:27 AM
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If you have to tell people you're funny, well, you know the rest. Anyway, I'm changing my pseud, because my cover got blown.


Posted by: Ray Cyst | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 10:30 AM
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By the way, I think you're very funny.


Posted by: Ray Cyst | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 10:30 AM
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When you say your cover got blown, you mean by me? I promise not to do it again.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 10:31 AM
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106: That's a very polite way of saying I'm a braying ass. Thank you!


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 10:33 AM
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109: That's the way the cookie crumbles.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 10:33 AM
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112: but funnier in person!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 10:33 AM
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I don't think it was that, actually, but I don't really know. I just got an e-mail from someone at the new job who said, in effect, "Remember how I warned you that your online footprint might create some hassles for you here? Well, that seems to be happening." It's not really a big deal, I don't think -- especially given that I don't know the nature of the hassles (or care very much) -- but it's easier to be someone new than to worry about it.


Posted by: Ray Cyst | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 10:34 AM
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115 to 111.


Posted by: Ray Cyst | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 10:34 AM
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it's easier to be someone new than to worry about it

If you figure out the trick to that, can you let me know? I've been trying for 30-some years now.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 10:36 AM
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Can we call you Das Ray Cyst?


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 10:36 AM
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107: Well, projecting uses a different set of muscles (literally and metaphorically) from talking.

Really there are a ton of ways that one-to-many speaking to a crowd uses a completely different set of skills from a many-to-many large group conversations. If I've rehearsed properly, I can get up on stage and talk or sing in front of two hundred people without more than the ordinary butterflies in the stomach; holding a conversation as part of a twenty- or thirty-person gathering is so utterly different it's hard to describe.


Posted by: widget | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 10:37 AM
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115: Did they necessarily mean your previous cover? Your older cover is more extensive and transparent.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 10:38 AM
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118: I would pay money for a picture of our new commenter in a combination Pizza Hut/Taco Bell.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 10:48 AM
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Just to clarify: I can command a crowd fine - I can get people to listen to a story, and they'll laugh during the story, I can be entertaining in front of a classroom, etc. Getting people to have the possibility of a stray joke is something else, though.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 10:50 AM
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122: The key is


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 10:52 AM
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Perhaps the most striking thing for me in medium-sized groups (meaning, say, 10-15, so a bit larger than what heebie's talking about in the OP*) is a distancing effect I experience: I'm seeing people performing things. There's an inner self always available that notes: Oh look, so-and-so is totes attempting to impress these other certain people; or, that person is being girly, with or without realizing she's doing it, and it's working on some of the assembled persons; or, Ah, Joe there is engaged in name-dropping style puffery on topic X, which is really making people listen.

That sort of internal commentary, along with the recognition that one is seeing people performing things, can make it really difficult to engage if the performances are too blaringly obvious.

* Less than 10 I still consider small, going by the sense that 7 people can still sit around a dinner table. Groups larger than 15 or so will splinter off into smaller conversational confabs, where there's (usually but not always) less performance.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 10:54 AM
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timing.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 10:55 AM
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104 is familiar. I am terrible at driving and carrying on conversation (with a passenger, not on the phone). I think it's that I'm either focusing on what I see or what I hear, and both at once is very difficult for me. I'm generally OK with multiple conversations at once. I think when I'm with friends in groups bigger than six or so, we end up in smaller conversations.

60: Yay! Someone who understands!


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 11:00 AM
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123, 125: Learn from the master.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 11:00 AM
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"more thoughtful way to say that is that I think of conversation as a way to learn about someone and build rapport with them" oh Christ, Mooj, it's not about the sex, it's about the PASSION, the CONNECTIONS.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 11:05 AM
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// I am in NYC through Saturday. Staying very downtown. If anyone would like to meetup, I'd like to meet.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 11:10 AM
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// I am in NYC through Saturday. Staying very downtown. If anyone would like to meetup, I'd like to meet.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 11:10 AM
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I thought "get in their pants" was too crude, if accurate. I trust this now makes you the earnest one.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 11:11 AM
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The key to comedy is repetition.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 11:11 AM
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My phone thinks this is very important.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 11:11 AM
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128, 131 made me laugh.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 11:15 AM
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I could do a Thursday evening at Fresh Salt. Anyone else around?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 11:16 AM
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Everyone there is going to be really self-conscious.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 11:17 AM
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I plan to say absolutely nothing, and just glower. I mean, it's what I usually do at meetups.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 11:18 AM
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I'm around


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 11:22 AM
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I could make it! Haven't been to Fresh Salt in ages, it seems.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 11:22 AM
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I mean, it's what I usually do at meetups.

Broaden your repertoire, try calling him a fascist. I hear it's the thing to do.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 11:25 AM
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I try to call people fascists, but no one listens.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 11:25 AM
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141 to American history since 1965 (give or take).


Posted by: widget | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 11:28 AM
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Also in for Thursday.


Posted by: Mr. Blandings | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 11:30 AM
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Fresh Salt is easy for me. Amy time after five should work.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 12:17 PM
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118: sure!

120: honestly, I don't know. I'm choosing not to spend any time figuring out what's what. It just doesn't seem very important, as nothing I've said online, either here or elsewhere, is especially problematic. Or it is, and then I'll find out about regardless.


Posted by: Ray Cyst | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 12:34 PM
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Oh man, this post is so, so familiar to me. Not because I particularly think of myself as funny, but because that feeling of being talked over and ignored is so familiar.

I tend to have a fairly thick skin for being perceived as pushy or assertive, and it's just boggling to me how the exact same behavior in different settings is received so differently. I honestly wonder sometimes when I am in political settings if I am invisible. I might as well be furniture.

Most recently I was invited out to dinner with a group of academics (very nice!) and then had a series of interactions which were less nice. Most notably, after I confidently jumped into the conversation while we were driving to dinner and shared an anecdote from my library work, one older man said sotto voce something to another older man, commenting on my story.

Like, I told the story! You HEARD me! And now, instead of answering me, you two are exchanging an inside reference to another scholar's research. You know I can hear you, right? You know I am sitting 18 inches behind you in the car?

I dealt with it by being persistently helpful all the way through dinner. Oh, this is your topic of research? How interesting. Have you talked to so-and-so? Perhaps it would be useful to draw on such-and-such.

Don't try to ignore me. I will helpful you to death.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 1:02 PM
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Well, they're not going to be happy if they figure out that, online, you're a big racist.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 1:12 PM
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I will helpful you to death.

That reminds me, it's time to order some new business cards.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 1:15 PM
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146: It's familiar to me too. Though I have been guilty as well; my wife has been frustrated when her contributions are overridden or ignored in our rolplaying groups. (they tend to the deadly 5-8 people in size.) I was guilty of missing her contributions too, until she pointed it out.


Posted by: Mooseking | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 1:22 PM
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146: That's pretty shitty, but I can totally see you as the helpful assassin. Her greatest weapon? Extreme competence...deadly competence.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 1:49 PM
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I might make it to Fresh Salt on Thursday. Should some FPP make a separate post?


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 2:13 PM
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A front page post could be good for visibility and the small bit of planning left. We need to nail down a time. It does sound like Fresh Salt will be the place.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 4:50 PM
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Today in the middle of a real flop of a joke about a tie-dyed suit it occurred to me again that my sense of humor is very hit or miss.

Unfogged really piles up when you are not unemployed.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 5:55 PM
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153: a real flop of a joke about a tie-dyed suit

Didn't anyone tell you not to mention Dharma and Greg when you got to San Francisco?


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 7:03 PM
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I've definitely had similar experiences of not being able to get noticed in a group conversation. There's definitely some kind of jockeying for status, but it's subtle enough that if you're on the losing end of it, it is hard to push back against it. Somehow status in these conversations has to do with who you are perceived to be, which is broader than any particular thing you might say. I feel like I'm also hindered a bit by my own pride, and not wanting to look like a fool (for trying too hard to enter the conversation) or like a jerk (for talking unfairly over other people). It's very annoying.


Posted by: torrey pine | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 8:31 PM
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70 and following: I was, as I usually am, not really that comfortable when there were a bunch of people gathered and I just wanted to sort of edge over to hear ongoing conversations before deciding whether to try to be part of one of them. But when there were only a small number of people and it was quieter, once I got started I felt like I was probably talking too much after a while. Being part of society is hard work.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 10:36 PM
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Being part of society is hard work.

Ain't that the truth.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 05-14-14 10:44 PM
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123-125: Indeed.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 05-15-14 12:42 AM
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I'm at the federal building on Foley sq and will check here occasionally to see what time is agreed on.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 05-15-14 6:28 AM
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127 to


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-15-14 6:33 AM
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It's so perfect that 158 showed up in this thread. (127 says hi.)


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 05-15-14 6:33 AM
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158.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-15-14 6:36 AM
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How about making a point, perhaps one of several in a paragraph, and then a few comments later have someone else make it, and that comment launching a discussion and numbered responses?

Going back to this, I remember having a long period of time reading unfogged when I would comment occasionally but I felt very clearly like I wasn't a regular. The thing that marked the transition to feeling like one of the "unfogged crowd" was when I would see people occasionally refer back to things I'd said in the past, in a way that made it clear that they had some sense of my presence here, and that I had some recognizable persona.

Before that happened part of my self-consciousness* about jumping into a thread was that I wasn't sure how much I had to provide my own context for any comment -- "I generally feel blah, with exceptions foo and bar, and this this particular case seems to fall under bar . . . " which made my comments feel clunky and over weighted.

Because of that dynamic I would be annoyed when somebody would be responding to a thread, do a vague summary of the thread and then make some comment which was similar to something that I'd said 50 comments earlier. Not only did I feel like I was being ignored but, additionally, I couldn't tell if they'd understood what I'd written. It just made me more anxious about feeling like I always had to start from scratch, if I wanted to be understood.

* let's be honest, I tend towards self-consciousness anyway.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 05-15-14 8:39 AM
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* let's be honest, I tend towards self-consciousness anyway.

Yes, NickS -- we do know you a little by now.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 05-15-14 8:44 AM
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80: I just want to hold the babies.


Posted by: J, Robot | Link to this comment | 05-15-14 8:49 AM
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161: I'm just that good, Josh whose comment I'm acknowledging.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 05-15-14 9:00 AM
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Man, now that I've re-read the Decade-con threads, I'm feeling all nostalgic. I really can't believe a whole year has passed.


Posted by: J, Robot | Link to this comment | 05-15-14 9:28 AM
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I remember the DecadeCon fondly from a brief Skype. I think I did get a glass of wine to play along.

I also have had the ignored-in-medium-groups experience, very much as Blume describes even unto the few coworkers who would repeat and then give me credit (one of them, a very mild-mannered guy, once said `Yes, clew said that twenty minutes ago, we could have saved a lot of time if you'd listened.' God bless him.) And I'm not quiet! I was not many years from hollering to the back field and/or to the other shell! At MSFT, the strategy that worked a little was to get more aggressive but be more *quiet*, so the people next to me would laugh a little at the person ignoring me. This was really tiring as (a) I'm not naturally that aggressive and try not to be that mean, (b) you have to be absolutely right every time you do it, if you're trying to `flip the bit' in people's opinion of you. And then in grad school in California it was about six hundred times too aggressive -- actually asking people for their evidence for their beliefs was slightly to aggressive, which still pisses me off, kids these days -- and I had to recalibrate again.

And now I don't talk to anyone but my family in person. This is, uh, probably not optimal.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 05-16-14 3:03 PM
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