Posts Tagged communication


Am I afraid of rejection?  I wonder about this, especially when I’m trying to figure out when/how to talk to a woman that I am attracted to.  I used to be super shy… and I still am somewhat shy, but I think it manifests in a different way now than it used to.  I have no problem becoming friends with women, even the ones that I am very attracted to, but moving past just friendship is so hard sometimes.  Why?

Jeremy and I spoke about this while I was visiting with him in Oregon Friday – we determined that I have a very specific mentality about my friends.  I never want to let go of friends.  To me, each friend is kind of priceless.  I want to know that in many years, we will still be as good (or better!) friends as today.  So how does this apply to the question of rejection?  Let us consider the hypothetical case of the Female Friend.

If we are friends and I determine I am attracted to her, I have two options – I can talk to her about it, or I can keep it to myself.  (I am simplifying, to make my point.)  If I talk to her about it, she could say she’s not interested in that way but let’s-be-friends.  Before I ask, we both have a valued friendship.  After I ask, in this particular case, she still has a valued friendship but I have that + emotional baggage.  Whereas she presumably won’t have tons of emotional investment in my attraction, I will, and it will strain as time goes on.  Eventually, if I can’t come to terms with my emotions (and I know I am bad at that), I will have to let go of the friendship for my own welfare.

I know this about myself.  It has happened many times before.  So I err on the side of not asking in the first place, because I don’t want to lose her (hypothetical Female Friend) as a friend, knowing that is a possible outcome when I am attracted and I ask a question that could lead to rejection.  Is this fear of rejection?  Maybe.  A solution suggested to me was “be more attracted to people you don’t want to be friends with,” but that doesn’t make any sense to me!

Emotions are complicated.

As a last aside, Jeremy needs to update his blog!  If you know him, bother him about it. :)

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Date Night

No, not the movie.  Although I hope to see it (and review it) one day soon!

So I spent a lot of the day anxious.  This was for many reasons, but above all it was my date with Emily.  It was difficult to get work done!  As the day drew to a close and my nervousness increased hojillion-fold, I ran into Mike and he gave me two good pieces of advice: she’ll probably be as nervous as you are (yeah, right!) and if you think of anything, just say it (ah, I hope I can do that!).  I successfully made my way over to our dinner and — shocking! — had a great time.


  • We have the same birthday (day and month).  What!
  • We had a great discussion about maturity, and then some good chats about philosophy, rulebreaking and Wine for Dummies.
  • We had a lot to talk about, and I didn’t mess anything up.  Woot!
  • We will go on another date. *fingers crossed*

(Okay, maybe that last part belongs in the lower section.)


  • YESYESYES I didn’t mess anything up!  Woooooooo
  • I was super worried I wouldn’t know “how” to do the date thing (it has been a long long time) but everything seemed to work out.  When my head isn’t messing things up with overanalysis, I’m a pretty good person to be around, if I do say so myself.
  • I got a good sense that she likes me. 😀 😀 😀

Alright, I figured being so high-minded all the time with craziness about time travel and justice and identity, I can be a little silly in some posts.

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A Day Away

So I think the experiment was a success – a good day overall, learned some interesting things about myself, and have a plan to treat my Internet usage.  I did use my phone a little bit — but just to find things in downtown Seattle while wandering around drunk, and to get down Emily’s phone number.  But I’m getting ahead of myself. :)

I got up and went to Wallyball, met up with a bunch of great work friends and had a great set of games.  I’ve been playing for maybe two years now off and on and I can definitely feel myself on the edge of “leveling up” and becoming a much better player.  After Wallyball, I went to get lunch at Eats Market (whose BLTs I have raved about in the past) and then took Max over to the Turians, where I rescued fellow beagles Tulip and Buddy from the impending bridal shower there.  We had a looong walk through the Cedar River area and a good few hours at the dog park.

That evening, I met up with Ryan and we went to a comedy show with Events and Adventures – a singles group that organizes tons of stuff in the Seattle area (and beyond!)  I was there as his guest, and we quickly hit it off with a pretty and funny woman named Emily.  She sat with us at the show, remarked on how Ryan and I were like brothers (i.e. both nerds), and then accompanied us to out-on-the-town afterward.  We tried a newish dance club (meh) and then an Irish pub (yay) and on the way out, well, I already mentioned that part.  It was a great day, actually.

So, what did I learn?

  • I don’t think I like being cut off completely from the Internet, but I definitely appreciate moderating my usage.  I think I will be closing down Gmail and Facebook during the day, and catching up at lunch and other free times.  Bonus: I’ll probably become more efficient at work!
  • I am very dependent on other people’s opinions of me, so when I mostly removed those from the equation, I realized I am not nearly as self-sufficient as I want to be.  I also have lower self-esteem than I would like.  Not sure what to do about this one except, well, worry about that stuff less!
  • I do a lot of outdoorsy stuff when I am not i-connected, but I also don’t really consider “stuff outdoors” to be progress toward a goal.  It’s a temporary escape, and I get frustrated with myself for not “doing anything.”
  • I need to watch that I am treating my friends properly in frequency of chatting and emailing.  When I cut myself off, my emotional brain rebelled at not hearing from my friends (even though my logical brain knew that’s because I told them not to) – it is selfish of me to demand my friends take interest in my life at all times (and it sort of feels like that’s what emotional-me wants), so I need to work on that.

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Secret Keeper

I was pondering the following thought recently: how do I value a secret?  To me, there are a few ways to think about it:

  • When a friend asks me to keep a secret, and I promise to do so, how much do I value that promise?
  • When a friend asks me to keep a secret, how much [more/less] do I value the relationship I have with that friend?
  • How much does my valuation of myself change based on my behavior with regard to friends and secrets?

In the first category, I am a big believer in promises kept.  I understand that there are certain situations where one should promise something and then break the promise for the greater good (a suicidal friend confides in me, and I go seek help for him/her), but I have a basic value for a promise – something high – and I assign consequences to breaking one based on that value.  Sure, I may decide it is necessary to break a promise, or do so for emotional reasons, but even if I feel justified, the promise had enough value (for friends, in all cases) I still try to hold myself accountable for that loss of value. (I plan to write another post on this self-accountability, later.)

In the second category, I generally consider relationships improved when a friend asks me to keep a secret because it indicates trust.  When it’s a secret about a mutual friend, though, I become a bit more suspicious.  Maybe I’m paranoid, but in situations like that, I feel like they are attempting to engineer influence, and bind my freedom of communication with the other friend.  I may value open and honest communication to a fault, though.  It is interesting to note that I don’t like telling people secrets – I feel like it’s either me, in my own head, or it’s all of my friends equally… but maybe that’s too naive a view?

Finally, and this also applies to the converse (my sharing a secret with a friend), I feel much more valued when a friend asks me to keep a secret.  This goes sort of without saying, I guess.  But I also feel much worse when two friends keep a secret and don’t include me (and I know about it).  This is very selfish, but recently I have come to realize this is an emotional response to the following: I thought I had more influence with them than I actually did, and finding out my more-true position relative to them in relationship space is painful.  More on this part when I discuss projection further.

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A Metrics World

A former co-worker (thanks Elf!) posted the following link on his FB:

What an amazing undertaking of data analysis!  This “study” corresponds quite closely to two things I was thinking about this morning: specifically, what a time-history plot of my use of tags on this blog would look like (see this graph of usage for something akin to what I was thinking of), and what a time-history plot of people logging on/off of chat clients (which I am seeing minute-to-minute on the side of my screen right now in digsby) might look like over the course of an average day.

I have also had multiple discussions with game designers recently where the foremost on their mind was getting “real” user feedback from analyzing their metric data – their usage of the game system.  How useful is the world according to metrics?  I love that we can do interesting visualizations of the HUGE amount of data being generated on the Internet every second by millions of people… but how useful is the data itself with regard to understanding people’s behavior and/or making decisions about how to interact with people?

It reminds me of my musings on Asimov’s hypothetical field of psychohistory, and also some fundamental ideas about how individuals differ from populations.  It is a well-known pitfall in analysis that when you come up against the barrier of too many dimensions (meaning, tons of different ways to gain perspective on the data), that by choosing a perspective, you are forcing yourself into limited usefulness of results.  What I mean by this is, you can’t answer every question by looking at the data from one perspective – seems obvious, I know!

I worry that if the preponderance of accessibility to this raw metric data increases as it has been recently, that particular perspectives may gain undue weight and skew decisions toward something akin to a majority rule of perspective.

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Semicolon End-Paren

I love emoticons – by which I mean, :) and 😉 in their raw text forms – and they make tons of sense for instant messages (including text messages) where you want to impart some specific emotional tone to a message.  But in the slower written contexts (like email or forum posts or what have you) and sometimes even in those fast contexts, I have two issues with them.

The first is ambiguity.  I don’t always feel like the emoticon I used will be interpreted properly.  It’s way different than a smile in person, for example, because a face conveys 1000x the information of the limited available text-smileys do.  For that reason, it can be frustrating to try to find (a) the right emoticon for the emotion you want to convey, and (b) the best way to wrap text around the emoticon in the case where you can’t get an exact match.

Which brings me to the second issue I have: fidelity.  It just feels like when I spend a lot of time selecting and “wrapping” an emoticon, it’s gone from “show my emotion as well as my thoughts” to “sculpt an exact emotional tone in my reader” — which just sort of feels insincere.  Maybe it’s just in my overreaction to the ambiguity part that I project my feelings about this onto other people’s emoticons, but I feel like (a) I overuse them, and (b) I too often worry that I’m being disingenuous with my 😛 or whatever.

I have never really gotten into video chat systems, like Skype, but maybe that’s the solution?  Or just video phoning, I guess.

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In Will Wright’s talk at GDC, he brought up the fact that most people (it seems) are getting their information via narrowcast channels these days; that is, a stream of information that they signed up for and that distributes to a group of individuals that naturally trust the source.  Twitter followings, Facebook friends – streamlined methods of personalizing the really simple (heh) RSS standard.  It’s very powerful to know you are a trusted distributor of information, and that your first-receivers are all opt-in.  No wonder the money-makers are extremely interested in virally reaching these communities!

I feel like right now, the way in which I consume new information is a combination of “heard it from friends (via narrowcast)” and “looked it up via Google and/or Wikipedia and/or other internet generalized info sources.”  Is the next step making narrowcast content easily searchable and indexable by the individual subscribers?  Or is there something between peer-to-peer sharing (chat, email) and narrowcasting (Twitter, Facebook) – I think Google Wave tried to live in this space, but it failed to capture the narrowcast aspect carefully enough and it seems to have fallen out of popularity.

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