This summer, each of the writers here at Rogue Princess Squadron shared our thoughts on the first of Michael Suileabhain-Wilson’s Geek Social Fallacies. You can read our thoughts here: Margaret, Lisa, Caitlin, Alana, and me, Angela. The original blog article was written ten years ago, but each of the fallacies is still very true and something worthy of discussion. Despite the stereotype, geeks and nerds are very social creatures, but due to some of the truths in that stereotype, we can come to the gaming table with a little social baggage.
This week, we’re taking on the second of the geek social fallacies. Like last time, I’m including the full description, but I recommend checking out the original website:
Geek Social Fallacy #2: Friends Accept Me As I Am
The origins of GSF2 are closely allied to the origins of GSF1. After being victimized by social exclusion, many geeks experience their “tribe” as a non-judgmental haven where they can take refuge from the cruel world outside.
This seems straightforward and reasonable. It’s important for people to have a space where they feel safe and accepted. Ideally, everyone’s social group would be a safe haven. When people who rely too heavily upon that refuge feel insecure in that haven, however, a commendable ideal mutates into its pathological form, GSF2.
Carriers of GSF2 believe that since a friend accepts them as they are, anyone who criticizes them is not their friend. Thus, they can’t take criticism from friends — criticism is experienced as a treacherous betrayal of the friendship, no matter how inappropriate the criticized behavior may be.
Conversely, most carriers will never criticize a friend under any circumstances; the duty to be supportive trumps any impulse to point out unacceptable behavior.
GSF2 has extensive consequences within a group. Its presence in substantial quantity within a social group vastly increases the group’s conflict-averseness. People spend hours debating how to deal with conflicts, because they know (or sometimes merely fear) that the other person involved is a GSF2 carrier, and any attempt to confront them directly will only make things worse. As a result, people let grudges brew much longer than is healthy, and they spend absurd amounts of time deconstructing their interpersonal dramas in search of a back way out of a dilemma.
Ironically, GSF2 carriers often take criticism from coworkers, supervisors, and mentors quite well; those individuals aren’t friends, and aren’t expected to accept the carrier unconditionally.
We’re going to be posting each author’s point of view throughout the week, one each day. ~Ang
I know not everyone is going to accept me for who I am, including friends. Why would you hold your friends to a different standard than the rest of the humans out there? I know that sometimes it is hard to make friends, but I’ve been to 3 different colleges and changed high schools when I was younger and had to adapt. Yes it was hard to make friends at first, and out of my friends from high school I only regularly talk to 2 or 3 of them and my friends from college I get invited to weddings but we don’t see each other or talk to each other on a regular basis.
The friends I have kept over the years are the ones that DO criticize me and DO let me know when I’m being stupid. They are much more valuable to me than ones who don’t speak up because they think they will hurt my feelings – those are the ones I would stop being friends with. I need people around me to let me know when my partner is a jackass or ask me what the fuck I’m doing when I make a bad decision. I need a friend to have strong convictions and stand their ground, something I learned when handling bullies. I am a geek, but I am not meek. I stand up for what I believe in and protect the people I care about.
I have known some people that I would like to keep as friends that do have a hard time taking criticism from friends. So I have devised a way to talk to them about something that is bothering me about them so as not to hurt their feelings.
1) Remind them that you are their friend and will be there for them whenever they need you.
2) Start your sentences with “I feel… when you…” I learned this in one of my college classes and it really helps the issue you are having when you start with “I” because the other person doesn’t feel like you are attacking them.
3) Let them know you’d like to be able to talk to them about anything, including opening the discussion up to maybe something that has been bothering them about you. All relationships are two way streets; it’s a give and take between people and we are all trying to get along.
4) Let them know you were not trying to hurt their feelings.
These do not have to go in the order I listed them, but they definitely help when dealing with someone who feels like you are attacking them when you are trying to be a good friend and let them know something is wrong.
What are some ways you deal with people like this?
Note: Thanks to Chris Mann for providing us with some back-stabby art to go along with the series this week.