Southerly by David Haywood

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Southerly: Confessions of a Social Retard

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  • Russell Brown,

    I do exactly the same thing. I know I've met someone, I know I've had conversations with them, details about their lives. Can't for the life of me remember names, or how I know them.

    And you have to continue the conversation on vague terms in the hope that it throws up a clue. So you don't have to ask for their business card, again.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 17938 posts Report Reply

  • Dave Patrick,

    Ah, public speaking -- that's a funny beast. I have no problem with public speaking, provided I know what I'm going to say in advance.

    Yeah, I don't mind so much the prepared stuff - the school functions where everyone else has stolen what you were going to say and already said it are the ones where desperation leads to babbling.

    Rangiora, Te Wai Pounamu • Since Nov 2006 • 231 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    23. It was a hard test though. "I find it easy to know how other people are feeling"? Well, I don't find it hard to judge what I think other people are feeling, but to "know"? They could just be covering it in some way. I could just be plain wrong. To be really sure, you need to establish a baseline, which you don't have time for with strangers, or to ask very curious and impertinent questions rather like Tim Roth in Lie to Me, which are just to provoke an emotional range and trigger probable lies. Even then, it's not certain, covering up and faking emotions is something we practice doing from a very young age.

    No, seriously, that was my first thought on reading that too, that she fancied you.

    I opted not to underrate David's writing talent, and presumed that as an audience I was meant to make that connection, and to point out to David he had missed the point, so that I could actually more clearly make his point. It was a pretty clever device, I thought.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8015 posts Report Reply

  • Kim Wilson,

    Previously I was definitely one to bolster my (non-existent) confidence with alcohol in social situations just to cope.

    [And with that in mind, apologies to Russell for half-pissed incoherent mumblings at the Dram Fest one year.]

    Now I find it easier to make excuses to not attend - I don't *want* to be trolleyed in order to cope, but I don't want to be miserable when I've reached the point of needing to escape but feeling I can't.

    One of the things I really love about PAS is that, reading the discussion threads, I don't feel like I'm alone, even though I've never actually met more than one or two of you. I can't tell you how grateful I am for that.

    Incidentally, I scored 30 on the test. I'm not really sure what that means...

    Nth Canty • Since Dec 2006 • 23 posts Report Reply

  • Robert Urquhart,

    34. Yow.

    If I took it as of a few years ago, before
    a) developing various compensatory social skills and
    b) lapsing into relying on technology to remember phone numbers and birth dates and the like

    or if I weighted my thinking on the questions about social situations
    - away from the groups with whom I spend the most time and have acquired a certain amount of social status
    - towards situations involving people I've never met before or associate with infrequently

    ... it would be higher.

    Christchurch • Since Mar 2009 • 136 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    wrt Alcohol, I went through the period where it helped a lot. But on reflection I don't actually think it's the chemical properties of alcohol that does most of the work here. It's that dealing with alcohol gives us a lot of social leads. It establishes a ritual which everyone can engage in, and the ritual is what leads to the socializing. So you have the "buy someone a drink" thing which sets up the "must buy them one back" dynamic. Or "Cheers", which is a shared activity in which you suddenly have an excuse for a lot of other activities. Just buying the drink itself forces you to move around the room in a certain way. The drinks are something to talk about. They make good props for hands that don't know what to do. I think it's the main reason for the popularity of smoking too. You can always hit someone up for a light, give them a cig, opt to decamp outside with someone, etc.

    To that end, when hosting, a fantastic savior for the inexperienced is to be given a task that forces socialization, like topping up drinks, or organizing the music, or giving people name tags, or spreading some piece of information, or selling raffles, or taking a sweep on a game, or taking photos. Ideally, it's something important enough to give you an excuse to move on, but also unimportant enough that you can hang around if you're suddenly hitting it off with someone. At family parties, I think it's a very good idea to get the kids to do this stuff.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8015 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    patter recognition... or casting aspersions

    If it's just a roomful of actors, I'm your guy.

    an aside - triggered by Russell's statement above:

    Did any one else note the irony that the actor (Erik Thomson) playing Derek Turner in last night's The Million Dollar Con Man also played Chch property developer David Henderson in We're here to help .

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 4197 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    They make good props for hands that don't know what to do. I think it's the main reason for the popularity of smoking too. You can always hit someone up for a light, give them a cig, opt to decamp outside with someone, etc.

    Not the 'main reason', I don't think, but smoking does work really well as a social prop. Even more so now that people have to go outside, so you get pushed together with people you might not otherwise have met, with something to talk about. I had a striking conversation at Chch airport with a complete stranger who, it turned out, had just lost her father, and who obviously needed somebody to talk to, and a light.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4285 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart,

    I was a 10. I can chat with anyone (if I'm struggling, I just switch modes and interview them), if not remember their names or faces.

    I can't remember exactly what I got when I did it a couple of years ago now, but it was in the very high thirties/low forties. Which makes the bit on my high school testimonial where it describes me as "empathetic" really, really hilarious.

    To that end, when hosting, a fantastic savior for the inexperienced is to be given a task that forces socialization, like topping up drinks, or organizing the music, or giving people name tags, or spreading some piece of information, or selling raffles, or taking a sweep on a game, or taking photos.

    I found the party I had the least trouble socialising at was my wedding, because I had very specific duties - i.e. talk to everyone in the room for a minute or two, on a fairly narrow and repetitive range of topics - which made it easy to concentrate on getting round the room.

    Amherst, MA • Since Nov 2006 • 2087 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Funny thing about names and faces is that the techniques for remembering them are pretty well known, and easy to learn. But still many of us don't do it (guilty). Part of my reason is that I mostly don't care. I'll almost certainly remember any conversation I had, and that's usually what matters to me. People are much happier if you say "I don't remember your name, but last time we spoke, you told me all about your job, which is analyzing small cap stocks, and you'd been having a great year. How's the downturn been affecting you?", than if you go "Hi, Bob, isn't it? What do you do again?".

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8015 posts Report Reply

  • Ross Mason,

    33 on the test for me - oops. Good thing I work for a University.

    BINGO!
    HOUSE!

    Upper Hutt • Since Jun 2007 • 1458 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    that was my first thought on reading that too, that she fancied you.

    Or if trusting your instincts, David, found you compelling and attractive but not necessarily shaggable.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 15715 posts Report Reply

  • Ross Mason,

    Or if trusting your instincts, David, found you compelling and attractive but not necessarily shaggable.

    Surely the other way round eh David?

    Upper Hutt • Since Jun 2007 • 1458 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Heh. I'm so socially able, it seems.

    At which point I feel bound to point out that I have gone to great lengths to avoid working in workplaces, which I find to be far too full of people. I dislike having to be "on" all the time.

    And although I can easily talk to TV cameras and rooms full of people, I've hit a total brick wall with one of the social rituals of our lovely Media7 production crowd. More than once, when we've gathered for a few drinks, events turn to everyone doing a "turn". Everyone else just sings a song or something.

    I can't. Just can't. Mind goes blank, feel desperately uncomfortable, have to make it clear that any persuading will simply make me feel even more uncomfortable. Again, having to do with being "on" or not, I think.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 17938 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch,

    Hmmm, I got 20 on that test. If you'd put me into university at 16, however, I would have been registering much higher numbers. I would spend days and days by myself pursuing arcane interests without any desire for interpersonal interaction.

    My personality changed dramatically between about 17 and 19. I'm not sure if it was the sex, drugs, rock and roll, or simply brain development.

    The People's Republic of … • Since Nov 2006 • 2077 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    @Russell, next time, recite the Lord's Prayer backwards. You'll never be asked again.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8015 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock,

    I was talking to someone about my experience with John Peel, who I spent some time chaperoning around Auckland

    Shelia's description of him from 'Marbeck of the marshes' certainly makes interesting reading. Her description of his desire to be part of, yet separate from, day-to-day family socialising was quite striking.

    Edit: 34. Fuck...!

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2292 posts Report Reply

  • David Haywood,

    More than once, when we've gathered for a few drinks, events turn to everyone doing a "turn". Everyone else just sings a song or something.

    I'd commit suicide if I ever found myself in that situation.

    In other news, Bob-the-boy insists on sending you the following message (he's not shouting, he just doesn't do lower case yet).

    HELLO RUSSELL FROM BOB

    (with spelling assistance from me on that difficult word 'Russell')

    Dunsandel • Since Nov 2006 • 864 posts Report Reply

  • Jolisa,

    I think I've done this myself to Jolisa Gracewood on more than one occasion. Sorry about that, dude.

    Nah, that was a highlight in my lifetime album of Shy People Conversations Past Midnight. And I liked the way our socially ept partners eventually did all that polite fake yawning and barely controlled eye-rolling and then going-upstairs-to-bed thing so we could get on with the Introvert Babbling Spiral. It was very kind and socially ept of them.

    (Note to Emma: apparently you just keep talking till you're the last two standing. Takes nerves of steel if you're the sensitive type, though. I hardly ever manage it myself).

    Auckland, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 1408 posts Report Reply

  • Joanna,

    And you have to continue the conversation on vague terms in the hope that it throws up a clue. So you don't have to ask for their business card, again.

    So many people seem to know me, but I am so terrible at remembering faces that I find myself playing this game pretty much every time I go out. It's particularly amusing when you realise afterwards who exactly it was that you were talking to.

    Also, am I a complete idiot or has the link to this test you're all taking not actually been posted?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 718 posts Report Reply

  • Jolisa,

    I'd commit suicide if I ever found myself in that situation.

    You know, I'm not sure if that would bring the game to a shuddering halt, or just raise the stakes. They're terribly competitive, these extroverts.

    Auckland, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 1408 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    Note to Emma: apparently you just keep talking till you're the last two standing.

    Matthew and I left two hours after everyone else... Which brings me to something I am recently learning to find awkward, and the topic of that column I haven't written. Apparently, that whole 'men and women can't be friends' thing isn't just a myth invented by When Harry Met Sally, people really find it so. Another blog and comment thread that makes me feel like a visitor from another planet.

    So... suddenly I am paranoid. Maybe I'm constantly upsetting people. Maybe sex is an obstructive issue in all my close male friendships and I just haven't noticed.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4285 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    More than once, when we've gathered for a few drinks, events turn to everyone doing a "turn". Everyone else just sings a song or something.

    I'd commit suicide if I ever found myself in that situation.

    I am sitting here chuckling over our experience with an organised expressive roleplay exercise last summer. Or, rather, your experience, because I was decisive enough to make a break for the door while there was still time.

    I know this sort of thing is supposed to break down barriers and encourage fresh ideas and stuff. It just makes me hate my life, is all.

    In other news, Bob-the-boy insists on sending you the following message (he's not shouting, he just doesn't do lower case yet).

    HELLO RUSSELL FROM BOB

    (with spelling assistance from me on that difficult word 'Russell')

    Brilliant!

    HELLO BOB!

    See you soon, young man.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 17938 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    So many people seem to know me,

    Ditto. I regard this as a really unfair advantage on other people's part.

    but I am so terrible at remembering faces that I find myself playing this game pretty much every time I go out. It's particularly amusing when you realise afterwards who exactly it was that you were talking to.

    And that test is here:

    http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/9.12/aqtest.html

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 17938 posts Report Reply

  • recordari,

    like topping up drinks, or organizing the music, or giving people name tags, or spreading some piece of information, or selling raffles, or taking a sweep on a game, or taking photos.

    Starting to feel a bit like that right now. Anyone need a top up? Mind if I take a photo?

    AUCKLAND • Since Dec 2009 • 2607 posts Report Reply

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