How not to be creepy/meet people at a con?

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How not to be creepy/meet people at a con?

Post by BlackBart on Mon Jan 08, 2018 6:10 pm

Hey, people. I've got a question.
In about a month and  a half there's going to be an anime convention near the town I live in. After much thought, and going back and forth, I've decided to attend, with the purpose of actually meeting/talking to new people. Since neither of those two are my strong suits, and I certainly don't want to risk coming off as creepy or desperate, are there any pointers you could give me that would make the experience, um, "go smoothly"?

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Re: How not to be creepy/meet people at a con?

Post by Werel on Mon Jan 08, 2018 8:42 pm

Hey, good job deciding to go socialize a bit! A con sounds like a good low-stakes place to talk to new people, if you're looking at it realistically (that is, don't go expecting to meet your new BFF; just aim to have a few fun conversations, even brief ones). Pointers for avoiding creepy/desperate vibes:

-Go because you think the con will be fun, not just to meet people. Enjoy the events and stuff for their own sake. Not only will you stress less about interactions, but you'll be more fun to interact with if you're legitimately enjoying yourself.

-The immediate physical circumstances around you are good introductory topics for conversation. It will almost never be weird or creepy to make chitchat about the thing you are both there to do. "Did you see that one panel? Wow, look at that guy's awesome gundam suit. This artist has some cool watercolors. Which guest speaker are you most excited about?" etc. etc. etc.

-Talk to men and women. Looks weird when a dude only makes smalltalk with women. Doesn't sound like you're thinking of this as a place to seek dates (good!), but sometimes women get the lion's share of even platonic smalltalk aimed at them, so mix it up a little and chat with guys too.

-Compliments on things a person has chosen (clothes, hairstyles, costumes, whatever) are good. Compliments on their immutable features, less so. Compliments on strangers' bodies, NO NO NO (but you are a sane person and so would never do that).

-If you and another person are just standing around idly without being engrossed in your phones (e.g. in line for something) it's not weird or desperate to ask if they're enjoying the con and exchange a couple sentences.

-If the other person isn't responding with equal enthusiasm or effort to your smalltalk attempts, give a pleasant closer ("enjoy the weekend!") and leave them alone. Knowing when to disengage = the opposite of creepy or desperate.

-If someone is cool, you have a nice conversation, and you'd like to be friends with them, see if they want to meet up with you for an event later during the con ("I'm going to X panel later, see you there?"). This is the lowest-stakes way possible to gauge their interest in hanging out more. If so, and you chat more at that event, cool, maybe you can exchange contact info* after. If they say nah, cool, you dodged even the minor social discomfort of having a request for contact info declined.

*Though I'm way more comfortable sharing social media accounts or email addresses than phone numbers with people I just met. Your mileage may vary, but some people may react better to "are you on Twitter?" than "GIMME YO DIGITS"

Try to have a good time on your own, take openings for pleasant interactions as they arise, and don't sweat it too much-- this is a really low-pressure thing you're doing for fun!
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Re: How not to be creepy/meet people at a con?

Post by BlackBart on Tue Jan 09, 2018 7:40 am

Thanks, Werel. Those are really good pointers. I'm sure they'll come in handy.

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Re: How not to be creepy/meet people at a con?

Post by K-J on Wed Feb 21, 2018 12:21 pm

Very good advice Werel!

I have a few tips too which is more about managing you're own wellbeing.

The thing is, if you don't get out much in general, a convention can be something of a shock. It's big, a lot of buzz and very high energy.
If you start to feel really bad all of a sudden, it's not about "something's seriously wrong" or "I don't belong here" but much more likely that you are momentarily overwhelmed. It can really hit you out of nowhere.

If that happens, best thing you can do is to retreat to your room/someplace secluded for a half hour or so, and then you'll feel better getting back out there again!
(Also, eat, sleep, shower well and all that)

And a general advice, I've had the best experiences on cons when I've decided to have absolutely no aim or goal. Just go around aimlessly and join things at random, approach everything with a positive and open mind. Don't think too much.

I'm suspecting a lot of people ruin a bit of their experience by constantly trying to figure out if they are in the best possible place with so much happening in different places all at the same time.

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Re: How not to be creepy/meet people at a con?

Post by BlackBart on Fri Mar 16, 2018 4:52 am

So, yeah...in the end I didn't go. I chickened. Well, maybe not completely but that's a part of it.

I let my jerkbrain convince me that going to a con just to socialize and not actually, you know, go see panels or meet and greets, or buy stuff from vendors, would be "cheating". I would be imposing my lonely self upon those who actually have a legit reason to be there, came with their friends or just to check out the con. And if there is a thing I constantly worry about when it comes to even starting social interaction is that I would be a nuisance.

The other reason was that outside of two events that were targeted at socializing - a speed dating session and a sort of "get to know ewach other better" thing  - I wasn't really interested in any other panel. And of course, I could go to just those two, make some friends (hypothetically) and enjoy the con with them (maybe) but...eh, I just didn't feel like two events were worth the proce of admission.

So, anyway, I've decided to give up socializing for a while, at least until I sort my shit out - namely finish my MA course, finally get a stable job and start making enough money to move out of my mom's place. These are my goals fo the forseeable future (hopefully by this time next year I'll be on the lookout for an apartment of my own, but you never know).

Thank you all who gave me advice in this topic, and I'm sorry I wasted your time by not following them.  Still, really appreciate all the help. Smile

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Re: How not to be creepy/meet people at a con?

Post by Enail on Fri Mar 16, 2018 12:39 pm

You have no obligation to follow any advice anyone here gives! But I'm sorry it didn't land up feeling right. Don't forget that other people want to make friends and have friendly interactions too, you being friendly with other people can be giving them something they want, not just taking. In any case, good luck with the MA/job-hunting!
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