Suggestions for shy/anxious lurkers at meetups?
July 18, 2009 4:49 AM Subscribe
Where can I find, order and purchase, by this evening, a T-shirt that says "Lurker" in big white letters? (Or would that be a bad idea?) Alternatively: please help me find ways to minimize or avoid social anxiety awkwardness at the PDX meetup.
posted by Two unicycles and some duct tape to Human Relations (28 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Hi, I'm a Metafilter lurker. I've been hanging around since 2002 or so but I don't say much. (This is actually my second account; I said a couple of things under my first account but I had second thoughts about them so I retired that one.) I have some social anxiety issues which make gatherings full of strangers difficult for me, though I'm trying to work through them as best I can.
I went to a meetup here in Portland a couple of years ago (at Ground Kontrol, some of you may remember it) and I spent a couple of hours doing the 'restlessly-circling-the-room-looking-for-some-reason-not-to-leave-immediately' thing that those of you who are shy or socially awkward probably know very well. Ultimately I did talk briefly with a couple of nice folks and it wasn't altogether as painful as it might have been, though I did leave quite early. The most awkward moments of the evening, I found, were those few when I'd end up facing someone and they'd visibly run through this Mefi recognition checklist: do I know this guy's face? no... do I recognize his username? [cue squinting and frowning at name badge] no... is there someone more interesting I could be talking to? hmm, probably... and then they'd sort of move on. It got to where I wanted to interrupt folks to say "Look, honest, you don't know me, you've never seen me post or comment, it's okay, hi, how are you?"
Sure, I get the curiosity about who folks are on Metafilter, and there are a ton of y'all whose posts and comments I've loved reading over the years and would probably enjoy chatting with in person, so I totally get the scanning-nametags-hoping-to-run-into-languagehat thing. But it's awkward and a bit disheartening to feel like I'm letting folks down just by not having a recognizable username. (Even if it is, as you'll no doubt suggest, all in my head. All-in-one's-headness doesn't necessarily make it go away.)
So I'm debating how best to approach the meetup this time to minimize potential awkwardness. I kind of feel like a "Lurker" t-shirt might help - that way I can get that right out of the way, no one will expect to know me, right? (Given the short notice, maybe it'd be easier to find someone who could whip up a button or something?) Or maybe we should stake out and designate a Lurker's Corner or something, where we not-so-extrovertish lurkers can get our lurk on in the shallow end before venturing into the deeper waters where all the cool kids hang out?
I'd really like to feel more at ease and possibly make some friends among Portland Mefites, but I'm feeling some anxiety already and beginning to have second thoughts about going. Any thoughts or suggestions on ways to mitigate anxiety and have a great time at tonight's meetup would be most welcome.