1. Stop glaring. The other day Ryan told me (IRL) that he didn’t believe when people say that their normal, resting facial expression is like, a frown, or a sort of depressed glare that signals everyone in their immediate vicinity to quickly move away from their location because they want absolutely nothing to do with them, but I don’t know, because I feel like my default facial expression is sort of like “F-ck you” or “I’m not interested” or, you know, “Go f-ck yourself” or “I don’t want to talk to you get away from me right now I can’t talk to you I’m allergic to you I’m having an allergic reaction to you right now get away get away get away,” maybe. Maybe. But really I’m just walking around thinking “[blank]” or “Hey those are cool shoes” or “I should be a better person” or “Life is really good right now, huh?” Not that I’m not sometimes feeling completely allergic to interaction, I can’t deny that anti-social toxicity can sometimes take control of me. Anyways, I’m not sure I agree with Ryan, I think some of us are just naturally kind of angry looking. I’m not sure what that means. Am I exposing some kind of contradiction here? Maybe the fact that we look angry sometimes acknowledges some kind of unconscious dissatisfaction suppressed by the societal pressure to always be peachy, to always answer “Oh I’m doing fine great thank you for asking how are you!!” ad nauseam. Let’s forget that though and decide that we, the chronically alienated, are actually happy, that there isn’t some kind of crude oil well of self-loathing filling the deepest depths of our shells of hearts, that we’re OK, and you’re OK. If we accept this premise and maintain a sensitivity to the negativity of our default facial expression and act to correct it in some way, to lift our furrowed brows and open our eyes a bit wider, we might be a bit more approachable at parties, a little more sympathetic looking, a little more likely to get laid.
2. Remember that people are paying way less attention to you than you think they are. It’s true, no one really even cares what you’re doing. You have no value. My rule is basically that I should divide my humiliation about anything I think I’ve done embarrassing at a party by around 90 and then use the resulting ‘figure’ to judge how much one or two people at the most may have judged my action as embarrassing. So, basically, about 10% of my humiliation, at most, is actually ‘real’ (as in, recorded in other people’s perceptions). And that’s probably a high estimate. And so yeah, I did just actually reveal that I’ve come up with a formula for how much humiliation is appropriate to feel at any given time.
3. Remember that enthusiasm is okay. This one has been a hard one for me to get over personally. There’s something so control-freaky over withholding enthusiasm from people you just meet. It’s an unwillingness to give people the normal levels of validation they expect in first encounters — an unwillingness to commit to their ‘team,’ to let them know that they are safe with you and don’t have to worry about being judged. I think people instinctually seek this out, the team-y thing, almost immediately in most first-impression type situations, and if you know that, the next step may be that you find it endearing, or at least acceptable. But one of the major downfalls of withholding enthusiasm during a first impression is that first impressions really do matter a lot and being a quiet serious person who’s all “I’m f-cking way serious don’t f-ck around” with all his body language, voice intonations and facial expressions makes people who just met you say “I thought you hated me when we first met!” and, to mutual friends, “Oh, you mean the depressed one? Yeah, I remember him.” I can’t tell if I do this anymore; actually, maybe I don’t, I think I replaced it with something, at one point, which was equally as destructive to my pool of potential friends and girlfriends, which leads me to:
4. Don’t f-cking subtly indicate that you think your small talk conversation is a joke. Because only people who are so insecure in their ability to be engaging that they have to fake like they don’t even want to engage at all — which is obviously contradictory, because why go to a party if not to engage? — try to tear the conversation down at the premise level to show the other person that it doesn’t matter if they’re no fun, they’re too cool to try anyways. Everything’s a joke, including the person you’re talking to, who cares, f-ck you. This behavior is not chic. It makes the other person think you’re making fun of them, and not in a flirty or friendly way, but in a sort of dark, unaccepting way that’s a complete turn-off. Alienated person, you have to watch out for this. I didn’t realize I was doing it until someone, a friend, told me something like, “Well, it just seems like you’re making fun of people when you talk to them.” And then I felt really, really stupid. The thing is that I wasn’t even meaning to do that, not really, it was just the first thing I turned to after realizing that withholding enthusiasm from people and actually committing to like, talking to people at parties and making them feel like I liked them or at least accepted them (which is really a whole ‘nother can of worms, that idea, because I don’t want to say that I didn’t accept anyone, which is totally f-cked up and would paint a very unsympathetic picture of me as a person, I’d come across as a real unfeeling asshole here, but the thing is that if I wasn’t willing to give anyone the basic human acknowledgement of an eye-contact-with-earnest-smile or just a conversation without a bunch of irony imposed on the whole thing, then who knows if I really accepted anyone, who knows? Who knows if I even accepted myself, when I did this? So, ah, hm.) And so the point is that you should watch out for this, make sure you’re not just uncontrollably hinting that you think your entire conversation is to be laughed at, because it can become this go-to program for social gatherings that you even don’t realize you’ve opened up and started running. It’s sort of related to this rule:
5. Don’t make inside jokes that you have with yourself. No one gets inside jokes that you have with yourself. Trust me, no one gets them. You will attract zero people by telling other people inside jokes that you have with yourself. Telling a joke that no one gets to a group of people and then laughing about it while everyone else just titters and shuffles their feet and raises their eyebrows in a sort of “OK buddy, way to go” type passive aggression makes you look like a self-obsessed, uncomfortable person with very obvious social issues. Save your inside jokes. Save them! They do not facilitate comfortable interaction, romance, sex, etc.
6. Remember your context. I’ve found that I’ve actually done things like be really quiet and aloof at social gatherings or even trailed behind someone on the sidewalk literally scared of, in a sense, passing them because it would disturb them or something. Very irrational. I think these are things people have done before and still do, they’re behaviors guided by irrational little rules and hang-ups that ignore the context of the situation and basically prevent you from feeling comfortable. For example the scenarios listed above read pretty absurdly in text even though in the moment the motivations behind them can be difficult to overcome, and the reason they read absurd is because the thoughts and feelings are just completely not-in-line with the scenario. I think that at least some of us alienated, immature, oversharing, mindless millenial types sometimes forget for example that a party is a party, an event at which people gather for the theoretical purpose of having fun, drinking, and interacting, and instead act like a party is a library, or something, where it isn’t actually appropriate to speak to random strangers. The point is to just remember your context. Don’t feel like you’re imposing on a person at a social gathering by going up to them and talking to them. They signed up for that when they decided to go to the party, and if they have a problem with you following protocol, then they’re the ones with the problem, not you. Let’s just acknowledge here that this was the least gimmicky rule of this post, for no reason other than to assure myself of my own standing, with myself, another sort of uncontrollable defense mechanism on display for readers and haters alike, which I’ll eventually have to get over, which I assure you I’m working on.