[Adv/Disc]Is it Insecurity If It's True?...

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Post by Spiffo on Wed Dec 17, 2014 12:45 am

reboundstudent wrote:Except why should you have confidence when you are told, over and over, that you don't have anything to be confident about?? It's like telling the kid in the spelling bee who can't spell to save his life he has a chance at winning the trophy. This is what I don't get about the "confidence is sexy/insecurity is unattractive" mantra; isn't confidence, at least somewhat, a chicken-and-egg validation loop? Who's to say you're not confidence because you're attractive (doesn't have to be physical, just attractive in some way.)

Similarly, why is it insecurity if the feelings and beliefs you hold are the absolutely, truthful reflection of how other people see you?? Isn't being "confident" really just delusional then? "Oh, everyone else thinks I'm an ugly, rude, loathsome jerk, but I have confidence I'm actually attractive and wonderful!" We'd call that person extremely lacking in self-awareness, at best.

There's a difference between what you think of yourself, and what you think everyone else thinks of you. A delusional person who thinks they're king shit is arrogant, and a regular person who just likes themself would be confident.

What do the people you have in real life have to say? Because in this thread we're discussing the bad things that Internet strangers have to say about other women, and the nice things that other costumers have to say about you (BUT YOU KNOW THEY'RE ALSO SAYING BAD STUFF BECAUSE REASONS!!!!), so what do your IRL friends have to say? People who actually know you?
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Post by reboundstudent on Wed Dec 17, 2014 1:03 am

Spiffo wrote: There's a difference between what you think of yourself, and what you think everyone else thinks of you. A delusional person who thinks they're king shit is arrogant, and a regular person who just likes themself would be confident.

Isn't it still delusion for that regular person to like themselves if no one else does? We always hear "You're the common denominator in your failures." If no one else likes you, maybe because you're an unlikable person, why should you like yourself? That seems delusional.

Spiffo wrote:
What do the people you have in real life have to say? Because in this thread we're discussing the bad things that Internet strangers have to say about other women, and the nice things that other costumers have to say about you (BUT YOU KNOW THEY'RE ALSO SAYING BAD STUFF BECAUSE REASONS!!!!), so what do your IRL friends have to say? People who actually know you?

They have nothing much to say at all, positive or negative. If I really bug them, they'll give my a compliment, but left to their own devices, they express no opinion either way. (At least in terms of the costume.)

In terms of "different body shapes," my guy friends are extremely tight-lipped on the subject. When pressed, several of them will say the "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder" line, but most of them are dating younger, thinner, much more conventionally attractive women. At least two of them in the past complained to my face how "only fat" women messaged them online. One guy on a date with me thought it was important to emphasize that he had hooked up with "actual hot" women at a convention, and pointed out women who had similar body shapes as me to say how unattractive they were. A guy I'd casually dated for three months broke up with me in a voice mail by saying he found me ugly.

...Which is why the Internet strangers don't strike me as an anomaly, and why the "Stop being insecure" rings a bit hollow. It seems very much like encouraging naive self-delusion.
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Post by nonA on Wed Dec 17, 2014 1:11 am

What do the people you have in real life have to say? Because in this thread we're discussing the bad things that Internet strangers have to say about other women, and the nice things that other costumers have to say about you (BUT YOU KNOW THEY'RE ALSO SAYING BAD STUFF BECAUSE REASONS!!!!), so what do your IRL friends have to say? People who actually know you?

I'd be careful with this.

Marty can be socially awkward herself.  (E.G: her sense of what compliments mean vs. what other people think they convey.)  By itself being a little socially awkward isn't that horrible a thing.  Especially not on a site like this where we're all at least a little strange.  But it does mean that instead of hanging out with the socialites, she spends most of her time with the other odd kids.  And many of the odd kids out there have severely maladapted social habits like "it's only honest if it's brutally, offensively honest".

Plus, nerdy circles have a tendency for lots of strong, idiosyncratic personalities to butt against each other.  This isn't something Marty specific or even something she does so much herself, but understanding how nerd social circles can sometimes get almost feudal in their attempts to develop pecking orders can help.  Especially in that you can recognize that it's not how most other social groups structure themselves.

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Post by reboundstudent on Wed Dec 17, 2014 1:57 am

nonA wrote: Plus, nerdy circles have a tendency for lots of strong, idiosyncratic personalities to butt against each other.  This isn't something Marty specific or even something she does so much herself, but understanding how nerd social circles can sometimes get almost feudal in their attempts to develop pecking orders can help.  Especially in that you can recognize that it's not how most other social groups structure themselves.

I know you mentioned earlier than you feel a bit tongue-tied about the whole feudal concept, but I'd be interesting in hearing what exactly you mean. And is it-not?-how other social groups structure themselves? I thought every social group had its rather strange and idiosyncratic (and somewhat toxic) pecking order rules?
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Post by Robjection on Wed Dec 17, 2014 6:21 am

reboundstudent wrote:I know you mentioned earlier than you feel a bit tongue-tied about the whole feudal concept, but I'd be interesting in hearing what exactly you mean. And is it-not?-how other social groups structure themselves? I thought every social group had its rather strange and idiosyncratic (and somewhat toxic) pecking order rules?
This sounds like the sort of thing that might be true on a technicality rather than being true ... uhm ... not on a technicality (I'm sure there was a word for that bit). I mean, with my old school friends, I don't recall there being any kind of pecking order, and although it's possible that someone who examined the four of us closely enough might be able to piece together one, I suspect they'd have to use some rather convoluted reasoning to do so.

It's also possible that the hierarchy thing is a thing that normally happens and we were the odd ones out.

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Post by Caffeinated on Wed Dec 17, 2014 11:59 am

Autumnflame wrote:
reboundstudent wrote:
Gentleman Johnny wrote:
If someone had said "that looks amazing. I can tell you were short for time on the hemming and edge stitching but eh. . .that happens. You might want to take in the shoulders a bit", would you be more inclined to process "that's amazing" as a positive review or to take the rest (which are about things you already knew weren't right) as a negative review of your ability?

I'd be more inclined to take it as a positive review. That kind of review would actually make me feel relieved, because I'd know they actually were giving their honest opinion, and not just a knee-jerk compliment. A compliment with constructive criticism is the literal best. I'd also probably hold their compliment in much higher esteem because their criticism recognizes what's off about the dress, which means they know what they're talking about.

Dang. I honestly cannot imagine a situation where it would not be horribly rude to offer critique without being asked for it first (or in a context where the request for criticism is implicitly understood, like when showing things to a mentor).

Yes. That was exactly my take on that, too.

I think maybe that could be at the root of the 'insecure' thing too, because of how the dynamic of insisting on critique outside the expected context for it might make people feel really uncomfortable and put on the spot, they might turn around and say something like "stop being so insecure". In that way, 'security' would mean less about internal feelings and more about staying inside the implied social boundaries of the situation.
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Post by reboot on Wed Dec 17, 2014 12:14 pm

Also being unexpectedly shoved into the role of critic, even if you are an expert, can be disconcerting if you are not in an environment where critique and feedback is the norm. You have your offhand remark challenged and then have to go into analysis mode, when all you wanted to do was acknowledge someone's work and grab some canapes. It is the misread of the situational norms that might bring out the "you are so insecure (now get out of my way because there are only two bacon wrapped figs left and I want one)". It is the forcing of a more in depth and involved conversation that might be the problem.
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Post by reboundstudent on Wed Dec 17, 2014 1:11 pm

reboot wrote:Also being unexpectedly shoved into the role of critic, even if you are an expert, can be disconcerting if you are not in an environment where critique and feedback is the norm. You have your offhand remark challenged and then have to go into analysis mode, when all you wanted to do was acknowledge someone's work and grab some canapes. It is the misread of the situational norms that might bring out the "you are so insecure (now get out of my way because there are only two bacon wrapped figs left and I want one)". It is the forcing of a more in depth and involved conversation that might be the problem.

Sure, but then in these situations, that kind of attitude seems blatantly dishonest, because it is an environment where critiques and analysis are the norm.... it just isn't the norm to do it to someone's face. So it kind of seems like people want to judge, but they want to do it under a cover of deniability and subterfuge. That's what I was getting at when I suggested that people want their judgments/bullying (in the case of the forum on women's bodies) to go unchallenged. They want to continue making judgments on other people, but still maintain that these judgments aren't substantial or meaningful in any way.
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Post by Enail on Wed Dec 17, 2014 1:14 pm

I think of pecking order as a very "middle school" thing. Post-school, my friendships have not been as strongly based around a cohesive group, more a few smaller sets of friends who get on in varying degrees with the other sets, and I think that is not a format that is conducive to hierarchical set-up. But even in a more group-based social setting, I honestly wouldn't expect to encounter a clear/strong pecking order as an adult and would probably Nopetopus the hell out of anywhere that I encountered one.

Some of that aversion might just be me - I'm not myself much of a leader, but I don't tend to get on very well with people who try to set themselves up as the boss of me either - but not having to deal with that kind of total obsession with status and hierarchy has always struck me as one of the biggest advantages of not being a teenager. I have a hard time picturing a happy, healthy social situation that deals heavily in pecking orders.
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Post by Mel on Wed Dec 17, 2014 2:37 pm

It sounds to me like you're asking two different questions here.

Q: Why do people on the internet criticize you when you ask them to own up to what they're saying?

A: Because there are plenty of people in the world who don't like to acknowledge the negative impact things they say may have, and people are even more inclined to avoid responsibility when they can be anonymous on the internet.  Lots of people are jerks on the internet. Not much that can be done about this other than calling them out and ignoring them if that has no effect.

As it relates to the initial topic: I don't think anyone here thinks you should believe what random strangers on the internet who are already proving themselves to be hypocritical say about whether you're insecure.

Q: Why won't people ignore the social conventions of a particular scene to tell you what they truly think of your sewing ability (or whatever)?

A: Because there's nothing in it for them. Presumably most/all of them follow the convention of not criticizing people's work to their faces because they're more comfortable doing that. And if they break that convention when you push in that direction, they have no way of knowing whether you'll take the feedback gracefully or react with hurt/offense/anger. So they can either take the path they find more comfortable, or one that makes them uncomfortable and that might result in backlash.  Is it really surprising they generally choose the former?

As it relates to the original topic: It doesn't sound like this is an issue of people being turned off by what they see as insecurity, but rather them being turned off by you pushing them to break social convention.
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Post by UristMcBunny on Wed Dec 17, 2014 6:14 pm

The social convention thing can be a Strong part of these sort of situations. And critique is something that a lot of more experienced people tend to keep closer to their chest for a variety of reasons.

To give an example - I used to frequent a writer's forum that explicitly existed for the purpose of allowing people to network, share news about paying markets, and get critiques on their work. However, that forum had some very strict rules about critiques - people were not allowed to post new threads in the critique subforums until they had made a minimum number of posts - and those posts had to be substantial and meaningful contributions to discussions. Outside that rule, social conventions were such that most people would not offer a critique to anyone who had not themselves critiqued at least a few others, and people were extremely strict on who they would offer to beta-read for. Discussions/critique of writing in non-writing sections of the forum was heavily frowned upon and moderated. You Did Not Ever critique someone who had not put their work in the critique section of the forum for that purpose - not even if their signature linked to their writing blog.

There are a number of reasons for this, but one of the big ones is that critique takes energy and effort. When I look at someone's knitting work and I'm not specifically trying to find flaws, I honestly won't see most of them - only the most obvious, glaring, ones will stand out enough to be picked up through a casual observation. That means that I can truly, honestly, look at a competent-but-flawed piece of work by an inexperienced knitter and genuinely mean it when I compliment them - what I notice through casual observation looks good.

Sometimes I won't notice a flaw because my attention is drawn by the amateur knitter's unexpectedly high skill at a technique that I find difficult - if I see a cardigan knit with a steek, I'm not going to notice that they slipped a couple of stitches at the hem because OMG you did a STEEK for your first sweater project?! That's amazing! Again, the compliment is genuine and not cancelled out by the flaws.

Sometimes I can recognise that someone has made a flawed work, but I like it regardless. Veering away from knitting into music - I adore this rendition of Song For Odin. Now, there's no way that singer would pass muster on something like X Factor or similar shows - his voice lacks professional clarity and cracks audibly at several points. That doesn't stop me from getting tears in my eyes when I hear it.

So those are all genuine reasons why a technically flawed thing could receive a compliment. And that's before you get into social convention. Most social things for creative people tend to frown on unasked-for critique - and it sounds like the thing you went to is no different. Keep in mind - whispered remarks between friends about someone else are not critique. They are casual observations. They are, more often than not, not really about the person being commented on at all, but about social bonding between the ones talking -

See how we both recognise this flaw. We are similarly skilled in this Thing We Love. Truly, we have much in common and should continue to do Friend Talks. When my step-mother-in-law tries (and fails) to engage in gossipy conversation with me about the woman at the bar in the tight red dress and what said dress might imply about her, SMIL doesn't actually give two shits about the woman in the red dress - she's just trying to find common ground to bond with me, and is unfortunately choosing an unpleasant social norm as her method for doing so.

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Post by LadyLuck on Wed Dec 17, 2014 6:23 pm

My reading of "Insecurity" is that it has to do with being overly dependent/demanding of external validation. That is, a person does not securely believe in some thing about themselves, and thus goes to great lengths to get external approval, and gets defensive when presented with evidence in contradiction. I'm guessing in the dress example, the downplaying got read as some weird form of fishing for compliments, or was seen as being defensive. Either way it clearly looks like an effort to manipulate the other person into a specific opinion of you. As far as the online interaction goes - getting plastic surgery for the sole purpose of pleasing men, definitely qualifies as great lengths for external approval. The "truth" isn't really important here, what is significant are behaviors that are obviously designed to tease out external approval from someone who has no real reason to be interested in giving out said approval in the first place.

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Post by LadyLuck on Wed Dec 17, 2014 6:36 pm

Double posting because Urist's post beat mine and has given me a LOT of additional thoughts. I spend a lot of time as a volunteer for Magic: the Gathering's tournament officiating program. Said program does encourage "feedback" - but my god there are LOTS of rules, and there are definitely right and wrong ways to do it. For starters, its considered a major faux pas to submit a review that contains all negative critique and no compliments. The online form will literally not allow you to submit a review in which "areas for improvement" is significantly longer then "things you did well". It's also considered kind of rude to just drop an official review on someone without talking to them first.

At one point, I went to a program seminar on "How to give feedback". The presenter proclaimed "Feedback is like Sex." And shockingly enough, he was right. Critique works best when done between two consenting parties in a back-and-forth fashion. It should never be unilateral. With respect to the specific situation presented in the OP - it sounds like the OP thought that going to the event constituted consenting to feedback, and it turns out this assumption was incorrect. To continue the sex metaphor (and this is gonna sound horrible), the OP thought she was going to a feedback-orgy, everyone else was just out for drinks. So yeah no shit the OP is going to look hella weird, she's acting like the proverbial dude in the bar that's hitting on every woman that walks in the door. But it sounds like just an honest misunderstanding at heart, so best you can do is take note about what the expectations are, and do differently next time.

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Post by Guest on Wed Dec 17, 2014 7:17 pm

LadyLuck wrote:Double posting because Urist's post beat mine and has given me a LOT of additional thoughts. I spend a lot of time as a volunteer for Magic: the Gathering's tournament officiating program. Said program does encourage "feedback" - but my god there are LOTS of rules, and there are definitely right and wrong ways to do it. For starters, its considered a major faux pas to submit a review that contains all negative critique and no compliments. The online form will literally not allow you to submit a review in which "areas for improvement" is significantly longer then "things you did well". It's also considered kind of rude to just drop an official review on someone without talking to them first.

This is pretty standard in management courses for building efficient and effective teams. Always make sure to compliment or reinforce things that someone does indeed do well if you have to critique or assess them and their work. Some of it comes down to simple kindness, but it's also important for reminding people that, yeah, you may have done X poorly or you need to pay more attention to Y, but that's not all over your work or all that's been noticed. In fact, some courses and such I've seen actually emphasise making the compliment or acknowledgement of the great work someone does last so it's what sticks with them after the assessment.

It's something you can distill into normal interaction really well. If someone genuinely wants you to critique their work, then do so, but make sure you mention explicitly what they have done well and, even better, how they have done it well or why it's such a good job along with any constructive criticism.

Err... /derail.

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Post by reboundstudent on Wed Dec 17, 2014 8:33 pm

LadyLuck wrote:My reading of "Insecurity" is that it has to do with being overly dependent/demanding of external validation. That is, a person does not securely believe in some thing about themselves, and thus goes to great lengths to get external approval, and gets defensive when presented with evidence in contradiction. I'm guessing in the dress example, the downplaying got read as some weird form of fishing for compliments, or was seen as being defensive. Either way it clearly looks like an effort to manipulate the other person into a specific opinion of you. As far as the online interaction goes - getting plastic surgery for the sole purpose of pleasing men, definitely qualifies as great lengths for external approval. The "truth" isn't really important here, what is significant are behaviors that are obviously designed to tease out external approval from someone who has no real reason to be interested in giving out said approval in the first place.

But as I've said multiple times before, that seems blatantly manipulative and cruel from the other side, the side of the Compliment-er/Comment-er. I feel very manipulated and put-out when someone compliments me, only to then turn around and whisper what a bad job I did to someone else. Is their complimenting me not a form of manipulation.... "Hey I'm going to give you a not-fully-honest opinion so you'll continue to like me and everyone else will think I'm nice, even while deep down I am judging you and being dishonest"? I mean, aren't compliments themselves kind of manipulative? It seems to be a well-known thing that most people find taking compliments difficult, so why the hell do we keep giving them? It seems kind of manipulative for someone to expect that I will take their compliment, regardless of my own feelings about it, and just swallow my own discomfort.... but I don't get to make them uncomfortable back.

Why do their feelings of giving out a compliment (and in these social circles, a compliment that is dubious at best) override my not wanting to receive them without any clarification on my part?

And as far as needing external validation, again, it seems pretty damn harsh to spend time cutting down someone else's appearance (in the case of the forum), only to then turn around and slag them for "needing external validation." Obviously external validation of other humans does matter somewhat in human culture, or else we wouldn't feel the need to cut someone else down! It just reminds me so viscerally of middle school friends who bullied me; your choice is either to take the abuse, or stand up to them and then be told you "shouldn't care what we think; obviously you're insecure."
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Post by reboundstudent on Wed Dec 17, 2014 8:37 pm

LadyLuck wrote:
At one point, I went to a program seminar on "How to give feedback". The presenter proclaimed "Feedback is like Sex." And shockingly enough, he was right. Critique works best when done between two consenting parties in a back-and-forth fashion. It should never be unilateral. With respect to the specific situation presented in the OP - it sounds like the OP thought that going to the event constituted consenting to feedback, and it turns out this assumption was incorrect. To continue the sex metaphor (and this is gonna sound horrible), the OP thought she was going to a feedback-orgy, everyone else was just out for drinks. So yeah no shit the OP is going to look hella weird, she's acting like the proverbial dude in the bar that's hitting on every woman that walks in the door. But it sounds like just an honest misunderstanding at heart, so best you can do is take note about what the expectations are, and do differently next time.

Except, again, I feel it necessary to point out that this IS a community where there's feedback, it's just feedback that's done in a not-honest-and-open way. To use the sex metaphor, it's showing up to a party where everyone else is sneaking off to have sex, and you ask how you can get in on it, and they insist there's absolutely no orgy going on here, no sir, how dare you imply such a thing.

So how the hell are you supposed to act when you know you're being judged, and you just want to be honest about that and maybe talk about it, and other people refuse to acknowledge it?

MapWater wrote:
This is pretty standard in management courses for building efficient and effective teams. Always make sure to compliment or reinforce things that someone does indeed do well if you have to critique or assess them and their work. Some of it comes down to simple kindness, but it's also important for reminding people that, yeah, you may have done X poorly or you need to pay more attention to Y, but that's not all over your work or all that's been noticed. In fact, some courses and such I've seen actually emphasise making the compliment or acknowledgement of the great work someone does last so it's what sticks with them after the assessment.

It's something you can distill into normal interaction really well. If someone genuinely wants you to critique their work, then do so, but make sure you mention explicitly what they have done well and, even better, how they have done it well or why it's such a good job along with any constructive criticism.

I admit, I have never gotten this at all. It makes even less sense as it's become "common knowledge" of management techniques. Yeah, it's a compliment.... but it's a compliment you're giving because you were told you should, because it's "effective leadership," because it's meant to cushion a blow or soften a landing. You know it, I know it, so why are we even bothering with it? You, Boss-Person, are not calling me into your office because you just so gosh-darn want to give me a compliment. It's because I did something wrong. So just get to the wrong-doing part, and don't waste time on useless fluff. Even if it's sincere, it's a gimmick, and we both know it's a gimmick; a gimmick does not make me feel better. It isn't kindness; it's a waste of time, because it will forever be coated in "social formality."

You want to give a compliment? Give it at a time when there isn't something to criticize, or when there's no significance to timing. Wanna compliment my new hair cut? Do it a few days after the hair cut, because everyone compliments a new hair cut. It's what you're supposed to do, it's the social script; doing it a few days later means you actually, genuinely think it's nice and are not just reacting like a pre-programmed robot to social stimuli. ("She has a new hair cut. I can ignore it, but that's rude. But if I notice it out loud, then I have to compliment her, because noticing it and not complimenting is even ruder.")


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Post by reboot on Wed Dec 17, 2014 8:40 pm

RBS, was the complimenter of your dress someone who knows you and knows you dislike compliments or a stranger?

And please read Mel's and Bunny's comments, they were super wise on the topic of social norms for seeking critique of work.
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Post by Hirundo Bos on Wed Dec 17, 2014 8:46 pm

I get some of the same when I talk about certain aspects of myself, like autism. People are in a hurry to assure me that it doesn't show on me at all, that I'm not that different, that everyone can have similar experiences, etc. And I don't understand why, especially when I don't see the thing as a big problem myself. I mean, it has upsides and downsides, but the upsides, in my case, are greater.

(I'm suddenly thinking that hmh, maybe they're not just trying to comfort me, maybe they're uncomfortable in the way that Werel described.)

On the other hand, there are occasions where I get away quite well with talking about what I see as flaws. I'm not sure what I'm doing right there... it's usually framed as a kind of joke with truth in it... maybe it's framed so that people don't feel they have to respond.

I suspect with others here that not only seeking critique, but also the act of talking about oneself – positive talk as well as negative – is surrounded by a lot of social rules. And people will generally assume that you are aware of those rules... that the choice whether to follow or break them is in itself a part of the message. And they will also try to follow (or intentionally break) the rules themselves... look for the subtext (which, in your case, may not be there), try to figure out what you want from them.

So as others have said, a display of insecurity can often be read as a request for reassurance, even though that's not your intention; even though you actively don't want that. And then people try to comply with that request, or to dismiss it through subtext of their own, or let you know that they are uncomfortable with it.

There are probably ways to have people read some different kind of subtext, but I'm not sure what they are. Maybe other people here can answer that... How does someone communicate that they have other communicative goals than ressursance or advice? (Like the tags in this forums that specifies what kind of response we're after...)

Finally though, I have to say that if you are used to environments with a lot of pecking and back-stabbing and insincerity, and someone there makes a friendly gesture, it's not necessarily unreasonable to respond with a bit of caution. It might be a case of self-preservation more than insecurity.
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Post by OneTrueGuest on Wed Dec 17, 2014 8:46 pm

Either play by their rules, or don't care how people react when you subvert them.

You and I don't agree on everything (especially not the motivations behind compliments etc) but on the feeling like everyone else has signed this illogical social contract that makes no sense, with that we have a lot in common. The fact is, we have the above two choices. I've tried, god how I've tried, to convince people that honesty isn't game playing, but ultimately I have come to learn that if I want to just live my life and have fun social times I either have to play by the rules or not give a fuck. And with the few people who really get me, my friends, family, boyfriend, I can be myself and have that outlet. The world is weird. And we can't change it on a macro level unfortunately. But we can on the micro. Live your honest self with the people who actually matter in your world. And be the muppet version of yourself (do you remember that metaphor I used ages ago when I was just "guest"??) at other times.

Basically, your questions can never be answered to your satisfaction. You cannot fix the social contract to make sense as you would like it to (just as I can't the way it would make sense to me). And quite frankly I'm at an age now where I just need to stop caring so much about that. And start putting that energy into the people that matter to me, and my career as well.

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Post by reboundstudent on Wed Dec 17, 2014 8:49 pm

reboot wrote:RBS, was the complimenter of your dress someone who knows you and knows you dislike compliments or a stranger?

The compliments were mostly from sorta-kinda strangers, some from people who know me. The "you're insecure" comments were from someone who knows me.

So the choice is to just go sit and corner and accept the dishonesty of the social norms (compliment to face, critique to back)? Like I can never call them out, even if I'm doing it in calm, non-accusatory way? Cause that seems.... not cool.
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Post by nearly_takuan on Wed Dec 17, 2014 8:55 pm

You absolutely can call them out on it...But they're not going to take it well and they're not going to agree with your interpretation. You can't fix them.
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Post by eselle28 on Wed Dec 17, 2014 9:09 pm

reboundstudent wrote:
So the choice is to just go sit and corner and accept the dishonesty of the social norms (compliment to face, critique to back)? Like I can never call them out, even if I'm doing it in calm, non-accusatory way? Cause that seems.... not cool.  

Well, you can say whatever you'd like. People who challenge what are seen as small, harmless social norms generally provoke negative reactions, though. Someone who regularly points out that people who ask, "How are you?" don't want to hear much beyond, "Oh, I'm fine, and you?" is generally considered annoying, for instance.

If you want to challenge the norm and also be socially accepted, that's a trickier combination. Many social groups have a bias toward being nice to other members, so one of the easier ways to challenge this norm might not be at the compliment stage but when you hear people critiquing others who they've previously praised behind their backs. I'd also say that there's a lot of room to  have a conversation with the person who knows you well, explain your point of view on this, and ask that they respect your feelings about the sincerity of compliments and err on the side of not complimenting you unnecessarily or call you insecure for disliking such compliments from others.


Last edited by eselle28 on Wed Dec 17, 2014 9:47 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Post by nonA on Wed Dec 17, 2014 9:22 pm

Marty mentioned in a PM exchange that she was cool with me mentioning the nature of the event, and since it's linking to a public FB page with public photos I don't think any of the people involved mind too much. It's a nerd themed event that invites, but does not require, cosplay.

(At the risk of putting too much focus on her, her exact words were "I don't mind you mentioning the general theme. Hell, anyone who's half curious can figure it out through my Linked FB page". While I totally both understand and respect the general philosophy of not linking to other people without their express permission, expecting that other people would dig through her FB to find details sounds a little spotlight effect-y. It would be massively bad form to dig through someone's FB to see what they'd been up to, and expecting that other people would do this implies that you've spent too long around people with messed up ideas about boundaries.)

I'll let other, more thoughtful people explain the subtext of compliments vs. criticisms in environments like this. Except for one minor point on coming across better. Persistent self-depreciation, as others have mentioned, is usually read as fishing for compliments. (Largely because most of the time, that's exactly what it is.) Meanwhile, compliments usually come with a subtext of "I value you and your presence in the community". Rejecting or critiquing a compliment carries an implication that you either don't consider yourself worthy to be part of the community, or that you're pointedly rejecting the person offering the compliment. Forum regulars hopefully understand the specific Marty idiosyncrasies at play here, but it might explain why some people get the impressions they do.


I know you mentioned earlier than you feel a bit tongue-tied about the whole feudal concept, but I'd be interesting in hearing what exactly you mean. And is it-not?-how other social groups structure themselves? I thought every social group had its rather strange and idiosyncratic (and somewhat toxic) pecking order rules?

I've been turning over this in my head for a while, but mostly I've been coming up with different theories for why this might be happening instead of better explaining it.

Instead, I think Enail touched on one of the main points. Pecking orders and backbiting like this tend to mostly show up when people feel like they can't simply split off from a social environment that's not working for them. Sometimes because they're literally forced to (E.G: schools and prisons), sometimes because there are high stakes rewards attached to being part of the community (E.G: pageant or executive culture). Maybe it's because setting up a new nerd hangout can be a lot of overhead (do you want to set up a whole new Magic tournament space?), maybe it's because nerds tend to see ostracism as a hugely important event, but you do tend to see a lot of the same behaviors. And you don't usually see them in other, less pressured social environments.

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Post by Mel on Wed Dec 17, 2014 9:35 pm

Marty, I'm curious: How do you interact with other people at these sorts of events? When you run into someone else who's more of a beginner, do you point out the flaws you notice in their work to them, or make a point of noting that you can tell they're a beginner? Do you find things about their costume that you do like to compliment or ask about in a positive way? Do you say nothing at all about their clothing despite it being an obvious topic of conversation?

And what about in life in general? If a friend shows you something they made, do you critique it even if they haven't specifically asked for that kind of feedback? Do you avoid saying anything positive unless the thing is flawless?

Because I'm having trouble imagining how someone who responds to others the way you say you'd prefer would manage not to come across as callous and uncaring to everyone around them. And you've never mentioned people considering you callous and uncaring.

I mean, I totally get not liking the idea that other people are going to talk about you behind your back. But the thing is, even if that behavior is common in a particular scene, you don't know that any specific person who compliments you is also definitely going to talk about you behind your back, and it's actually kind of insulting to any specific person to treat them as if they're a malicious gossiper and it's unfair that they won't come clean, when there are plenty of other reasons (many noted previously in this thread) why this specific person might not be critiquing you. Can you not understand why that, treating individuals as if you assume they're backstabbers, would come across as off-putting rather than simply wanting honesty, and also perhaps somewhat insecure?
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Post by Caffeinated on Wed Dec 17, 2014 9:55 pm

reboundstudent wrote:It seems to be a well-known thing that most people find taking compliments difficult, so why the hell do we keep giving them?  

I have to disagree on this. Some people may find taking a compliment difficult, but it is far from a well-known thing that most people feel that way. In my experience it appears to be the opposite, that most people enjoy getting compliments.
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