I do science – not social interactions

The media likes to show scientists sometimes as the stereotypical socially incompetent dweebs. In my case that stereotype is based on real life. To keep this even a little bit professional, I will mention no names (partially, because I hope anyone involved in these scenarios does not remember) and try to describe the scenarios with scientific detachment.

This “study” consists of one test subject (N=1) and any data is anecdotal. The study subject has limited social skills. This allows us to observe a socially underdeveloped phenotype in several interactions across time and in different cultures. During the data collection period between 2004 and 2011 there was a significant shift in the test subjects level of self perceived confidence. This results in shift of the data quality towards the end of the time period. The data points are recorded when test subject detects self-stupidity and/or unintended hilarity from surrounding individuals. The data are divided to three categories: 1) interactions with the opposite sex, 2) linguistic mishaps, and 3) workplace related interactions. These categories produced the most significant data points and provide a representative sample of the test subjects social interactions.

Stupidity2004to2011Category 1 data points are concentrated to the beginning of collection period. An example of mild case of embarrassment can occur due to lack of planning. The subject was engaged in a verbal interaction with a representative of the opposite sex. The need to leave the interaction increased and the classic phrase “Oh, look at the time! I have to go” was employed. Unfortunately the necessary prop, wrist watch, was not present.

Lack of foresight can also affect promising conversations. While deep hate towards accordion music is a topic close to test subjects heart, the enthusiastic description of it has to be reserved for select audiences. As a first conversation with the opposite sex the risk of the object to love harmonica is unknown. The risk reached 100% in a club, when conversing unknowingly with a harmonica enthusiast with 10 years of playing the damn instrument.

The situation could be alleviated by inserting a filter between brain and mouth. This could also alleviate the more subtle mishaps including over sharing. In an example situation the subject requested the use of a chap stick from a love interest. The inquiry “is it okay if it has already been used?” should not have been answered with “I have never cared that much about hygiene”.

 Category 2 data, linguistic mishaps, is sparse due to data collection being biased. Loss of minor events is inevitable when the subject is unaware of any mistakes made. Dealing with English grammar and finding correct words on the spot requires skill and attention span unfamiliar to the subject. Replacing a word with another of similar meaning would be fine, if the meaning and spirit of the communication is retained. Practical applications of this are tricky. Substituting vasectomy with castration even in casual conversation is frowned upon.

Category 3 data concentrates to time period between 2009 and 2011. The collection of data is on going and offers opportunities for future analysis. Work place architecture can give false sense of security from social interactions. It should be kept in mind that after the fast elevator’s doors open you need a good explanation as to why you were holding your arm up like a superman. The chance that someone is waiting for the elevator can approach 100% between 6am and 6pm.  Another obstacle for solitary existence in workplace includes shared office space. One has to navigate a minefield of social niceties and be careful of verbal output. When a new co-worker asks if your hobbies include riding, do not answer “What? Do you mean with a horse?”. The mental pictures projected to surrounding audience will be highly inappropriate.

In conclusion, the quality of self reported stupidity changes in time. Severity of cases varies considerably even within categories. More data is constantly collected and increased number of test subjects could provide a more representative picture of social in-adeptness. Highly controlled human studies are not possible at the level I would like to conduct them. Apparently use of human subjects in long term confinement from birth is frowned upon.

 

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