Geek Girls Rule! #449 – The Limits on “Be Who You Are”

Ok, so the one and only caveat… The two and only caveats I have for the “Be Who You Are” advice are:

Be Who You Are does not excuse asshole behavior.

Be Who You Are does not excuse inappropriate behavior.

I do not necessarily include inappropriate behavior with asshole behavior, but they can be very closely related.

See, the first is a thing that I’ve talked about before.  I’d link, but that would take far too long. This is related to #2 of the Five Geek Social Fallacies:  Friends Accept me as I am.

Which, yes.  You should definitely strive for friendships with people who like the things you like, and engage in hobbies you engage in, as long as those things and hobbies are not things that hurt other people nonconsensually.  This includes emotionally as well.

The next one is still asshole-ish, but is not always intentionally asshole-ish, although it frequently can be.  And this is folks who just get so gosh-darned excited about their thing (hobby/topic/sex life) that they bring it up constantly.  And there are times and places for those conversations.  When it comes to sex and kink, work is none of those times or places.*  And honestly, if it’s a distraction from a meeting, or serious work conversation, any topic can be inappropriate.

The second one is pretty easily corrected.  PAY ATTENTION TO THE REACTIONS OF THE PEOPLE YOU ARE TALKING TO.  Hopefully, if it’s super inappropriate, they’ll just tell you:  “Hey, not ok.  We don’t do that here.”

But, they may not feel comfortable saying something outright for many reasons that include things like power disparities at work, excessive politeness, or the fact that you may be much bigger and stronger than them.  They may just avoid you.  LET THEM.  You do not have to win everyone over.

Now, if everyone you ever meet starts to avoid you, you may have some hard work to do on yourself, probably with the help of a professional.

Also, PAY ATTENTION TO WHERE THE HELL YOU ARE.  If you’re going to describe a combat scenario in an RPG, make sure that people around you know that you’re talking about a game and not planning to murder anyone.  Especially in this day and age.

Again, work is typically not a place where you should talk about sexy stuff.  If you’re the only gamer in an office or room, do not monopolize conversation to talk about your level 40 Bloodmage.  Hell, even if you are in a group of fellow gamers, don’t monopolize conversation. Let them also enthuse about their level 38 Barbarian Warlord.  A little quiet conversation about the new release of Pathfinder while everyone’s settling in for a meeting is probably ok, but the second that meeting starts, shut it.

Also, if a non-gamer starts asking you questions about what it is you do, and seems interested, try not to just blow them off with a “You wouldn’t understand,” regardless of their gender, orientation or ethnicity.  And if it’s not a good time, suggest grabbing lunch or coffee later when you’ll have time to talk.

We don’t have to be ambassadors for our hobbies, but lets face it, it also never hurts to bring new blood Into the fold.

BUT, there’s always a but, don’t proselytize either.  Answer their questions, tell them what you like about it, but the hard sell is rarely appropriate for any topic.

Basically, it all boils down to following the social contract, being civil and courteous, and paying attention the people around you.  Social interaction is a learned behavior, and yes it takes some people more time and effort than others, but it can be learned.

*You do not have to tell your family about your kink.  Or if friends tell you they don’t want to hear about your kink, let it the fuck go, and don’t tell them about it.  Seriously.


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