Sunday, August 19, 2012

How not to be creepy

I listened today to the inaugural episode of the podcast for one of my favorite blogs, Dr. Nerdlove. The podcast is called Paging Dr. Nerdlove, hosted by Harris O'Malley, and the first episode is about how to avoid coming off as creepy when meeting new people-- specifically, how nerdy males can avoid creeping out females they meet, for example at Dragon Con, PAX, Comic-Con, or other nerdy gathering.

I think it's helpful-- or it could be. As with the blog, the advice given on the podcast will only benefit people who want to hear it; who acknowledge that they have some difficulty which needs to be addressed. When the difficulty is avoiding freaking out the person you're talking to by coming off as threatening, however, it seems like it's an all-or-nothing deal-- either you care about not coming off as creepy and therefore you don't do it, or you don't care about seeming creepy and therefore would not even listen to advice on how to avoid it. The people in the latter group might recognize that sometimes chicks do not respond to them well at all, but their next step will be to 1) blame the chicks, 2) read up on how to become a PUA (pick up artist), and then 3) join a Men's Rights group.

That's how it would seem to me, that is, and the advice given on the first episode of Paging Dr. Nerdlove is very, very basic. If you genuinely do want to avoid seeming creepy yet are not quite sure how to go about accomplishing that, this is the podcast for you! I do genuinely hope it helps a lot of people. I guess I've just been informed too many times that if a woman feels creeped out by a man's behavior, it's her fault because she chooses how to feel. He didn't make her feel anything, so he has no obligation to alter his behavior and how dare she demand that of him. So long as he's not actually sexually harassing her, he's not doing anything wrong!

Yeah, this is one of those cases in which the normal human conception of free will tends to fly right out the window-- you can make someone laugh, but you can't make someone feel creeped out apparently. That's an instance in which a person's behavior has absolutely no bearing on how the person who was the designated recipient of such behavior ends up feeling. It's a sort of creepiness apologetics, designed to allow creepy people to go on being creepy without having to admit that that's what they're doing. I'm skeptical about the chances of such people ever bothering to listen to this podcast.

But hey, not everyone is like that. Loads of people read Dr. Nerdlove the blog, which includes a lot of suggestions on a regular basis that assume they're doing something wrong and recommend how to fix it. That's what an advice column/blog/podcast is for, after all. Let's hope that just as the blog reaches so many of the right eyes, this podcast reaches the corresponding ears.

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