Who do you think you are anyway? - Grin with cat attached — LiveJournal
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Who do you think you are anyway? May. 12th, 2007 10:13 pm
So, I spent yesterday night screwing my lungs up in a goth half-a-club on Caledonian Road, mainly chatting away to metastasis. About server issues and project/personnel management techniques. I find it utterly bizarre the number of people who want to chat about this latter with me; are we growing up? And is growing up really defined by sitting in an overcrowded smoky room with lots of people wearing black and geeking about peopleware? Does any of us have the faintest idea what it actually means to be an adult?

People were having trouble recalling my name last night. Possibly because I'd not seen so many of them in a long time. Possibly because it's a non-trivial problem at the moment. I've taken to introducing myself by my birth name recently, in order to keep one aspect of personality management - recalling who knows me under what handle - under some sort of control. And also because my technical online and professional personas now overlap quite heavily.

Like most geeks I'm not naturally great at socialising, small talk, or interpersonal interactions. This is pretty much taken as standard in such circles; mutual understandings frequently minimise the requirements for tentative communication; dennyd gave the example years (probably) back of "If you come to my house, I'm not likely to offer you food, because you know where it is and that you can help yourself". A perfectly workable if not overly engaging approach that seems to work for many of us. But it leaves us unpractised in communication; I suspect many geeks are seen as shy or loners because of the embarrassment factor of not being able to carry a conversation. I've noted before that most of us can hold about 0.4 of a conversation (excepting technical subjects) so they *constantly* peter out. And we don't like not being good at things, or looking foolish. Well, I certainly don't; I try to be good at everything I do (and probably overdrive myself as a result). It took me a long time to gain enough self-confidence to allow myself to get things wrong occasionally, or more critically to allow myself to be *seen* to get things wrong. There's effectively a bank of other people's respect or trust that's built up, whereby they see you as stable and/or normal, and therefore judge the other things you are in that light, rather than judging you by the things you are.

This probably sounds like a drunken ramble; I'm certainly not putting much work into sequential coherence here as I'm basically writing stream of conciousness. Probably worth noting it's, uh, just shy of 24 hours since I last had a drink.

Anyway, directions of judgement. Most people seem to think I'm generally sane and with it, and I know that some people have taken my furry/poly aspects to mean not that I'm weird, but that those "social deviations" aren't that weird after all.

Gods but itunes is playing some crap tonight. About 6 "next"s and I finally choose "Birdhouse in your soul" as acceptable. 'Least I'm not singing along.

I've mentioned before, I believe, my theory that furry's just pure escapism. Our default human species and personas aren't always all that attractive (either internally or externally) and sometimes we need an alternative. Hence the popularity of RPGs (traditional or online), Second Life, and all that. Sometimes we just need to be someone else for a while. Or sometimes being someone else is just the best model for handling a particular interaction. A management consultant I've been speaking with recently speaks of "putting yourself in the role" for a particular task; to me that's a matter of switching personas, as I find I've been doing, for example, when I'm trying to be social or network at events. Doing it in management is trickier though as you have to hold the persona for longer - but it's still useful; years of adopting subtly difference balances of personality traits in different online forums makes having a stack of real-life "alts" to switch into a fairly natural state. My second life avatar can change species and gender with a couple of mouse clicks; I sometimes think that that degree of flexibility would be useful in real life. But until then, it's still suprisingly easy to construct and switch basic personas.

Rounding those personas out, however, is rather more tricky. I've seen plenty of people adopt some fairly forward, even abrasive personas to cover their own perceived faults and shyness, and then lose track of which was the alt and which the core personality. To round out a persona, even your core one, requires a very complete understanding of what its motivations and needs are, and that's a very difficult question. I'm still pretty sure I don't know what mine are, and it's not for lack of introspection. I'm not even sure I can fit all of my personality aspects into one persona; there never seems quite enough bandwidth in my life to balance professionalism, sexuality, politics, creativity, love, expertise, friendship, education, confidence (and so on for so long). So I suspect these and however many other factors are getting somewhat shared out between timesliced personas, which shift around in a not entirely controlled fashion.

I've run out of "next" now. I should probably sleep. Today's been a day of doing very little while I try and recover from the last few weeks. Tomorrow seems to be promising to be damp, so I'm unsure what it will contain.

From: lovelybug
Date: May 13th, 2007 - 08:57 am (Link)
Interesting to read. Streams of conciousness can be helpful for working out what's going on in your head, I've found.