October 3, 2002 13:04 | Bits

Social Skillz

First of all I must say I am, by nature, a loner. However I do have social skills and am quite sociable. I have many friends of all different walks of life who have gone so far as to tell me they thoroughly enjoy conversing with me. (Gratuitous plug... shameless, really...)

This, though, is only after contact has already been established. THAT is the sticky part.

I have been told by people who ended up knowing me that upon first seeing me I seemed to them "utterly unapproachable" and even "intimidating". The opposite is of course true. These conceptions immediatly vaporise as soon as they say "hello". I am perfectly happy to talk to anyone whosoever approaches me (and to be totally honest here I must add "and who looks to be interesting to me in one form or another", but that is a whole other story...)

Anyways, on to the point of this posting.

I cannot remember where I gleaned this, but I've always believed there are two fundamental and important social skills one must master:
Initiating conversation & Terminating conversation.

It seems I have totally mastered the latter but can barely and rarely pull off the former successfully. Most people have the inverse problem. They can't seem to get themselves out of talking with someone even though they have nothing to say. Curious problem but it isn't mine, so I'll move on.

Terminating conversation; whether it means cutting short interaction with someone I do not wish to speak to or, amazingly enough, having almost every conversation logically summed up with "it's all meaningless anyways because we're all gonna die!" (sic)(sick)(sicko)

There is also what I consider to be one of the banes of my existence: the fact that it seems that sometimes I will say something that seems to stop everybody in their tracks and instantly kill the party/mood/conversation. Sometimes it is a statement that is so perfectly put that it sums up the entire conversation and resolves all issues in one fell swoop and so there is nothing left to say (rare but damn cool), or it is just taken as the rambling of a madman and, oh shit, let's get away from this guy...

This "affliction" seems to have followed me online.

Message boards fall silent after I post. Blog comments are ignored. Nobody seems to want to engage me.

Sigh. Somebody PLEASE say something! ;)


Yeah, I get that too. But then I've always been socially retarded. :D
Come to the next YULBlog, we can practice our social skills together.

2- Boris Anthony

Bless you. :D

What is this "friend" that you speak of.
Are they REALLY a friend?

A simple test to find out ...
1) Find a "Friend"
2) Say "Hey ... hows it goin' eh?"
3) They will most likely reply to this as follows
"Not bad ... you know ... yourself?" etc
4) Now you of course say "Fine ... Fine ... " or words to that effect.
5) Now the tough part and the moment of truth for your "Friend."
What happens now ... does the conversation develop into an intellectual or insightful banter about current events or culture ? Or does your "friend" look around the room for someone else to say "hey, how's it goin' eh?" to and so continue in his/her short behavioural loop.

If the latter occurs, then you know that this person is NOT a friend ... in fact they are not even of the same evolutionary path as the rest of us humans. These beings actually evolved from another kind of ape known as "Homo Scenesterus" and in fact have a very limited vocabulary that they have learned to mimic from their contact with our species. These types seem to congregate in bars and clubs often wearing clothing that signifies their status within the tribal unit. For more on these freaks of nature an article can be found in the American Research Gazette of Human Habits (ARGHH 17:345 89). I hope this has helped.

4- Boris Anthony

Yes yes yes, I know this. You KNOW I know this. I was speaking of social interaction though, and not the quality thereof. Granted, my current [realspace] environment is severly lacking in sentient life forms (you are one of the few... ).

Of course this all raises an excellent point: I seriously need a change of scenery. ;)