I thought I was the only one who thought I was the only one...
December 19, 2008 4:50 AM   Subscribe

Is there a term for that feeling when you realize someone else notices (or notices in a particular way) something you had never thought of anyone else paying attention to, or viewing similarly?

This American Life (the radio show) is a good example of that feeling... kind of "Oh man, I can't believe other people feel that way or notice that" (David Sedaris aims for this, and whether you find him funny seems to depend on whether you react this way to him). This thread, and askmefi in general, is also good example. The humor of many of the Cohen brother's films, in particular The Big Lebowski, seems largely derived from this. Walter, in that film, is not just amusing as an imagined person, but because the coen brothers seem to be saying "isn't it funny how some people are like this". Another example would be when you learn a new word for something you'd never considered other people considering - I felt this way about "phosphenes". Ya know what I mean?
posted by phrontist to Human Relations (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
isn't it funny how some people are like this

This is actually a bad description of what I mean. It's almost as if the implicit noticing itself on the part of the creators is what's amusing.
posted by phrontist at 4:52 AM on December 19, 2008

Douglas Adams came up with a whole bookfull of those types of words - the Meaning of Liff
not sure if he came up with a name for the phenomenon in the introduction, worth reading anyway
posted by runincircles at 5:14 AM on December 19, 2008

Not a term for the phenomenon, but they used to be called sniglets a few years back.
posted by dydecker at 5:25 AM on December 19, 2008

The word "esoteric" would seem to cover a lot of the ground you're describing here.
posted by Johnny Assay at 5:34 AM on December 19, 2008

Not sure about the word but I wondered if Post Secret may have tons of examples of what youre talking about, depending on the week i guess
posted by nzydarkxj at 5:45 AM on December 19, 2008

While not perfect, synchronicity captures some of what you are looking for. Empathy (which I see is one of your tags) also comes close.
posted by googly at 6:26 AM on December 19, 2008

Synchropathy? Empathicity?

I just wanted to thank you for the phosphenes!
posted by FuzzyVerde at 8:20 AM on December 19, 2008

The word is often used in a negative way, as in "being in on a crime", but I've also heard it used, especially among performers, to refer to actor-chemistry, or "being on the same wavelength", either with other performers or with the audience.
When the cast of Satuday Night Live starts to crack each other up on-camera, that would be complicity. In real life, when someone is being crazy on a bus and you catch a stranger's eye and you both grin about the nutty person, that would be complicity.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 10:44 AM on December 19, 2008 [1 favorite]

Recognition? Emotional resonance?
posted by hot soup girl at 11:43 AM on December 19, 2008

The first word that came to my mind was "vindication," in the sense that the other person is proof that the interest/viewpoint/whatever in question is not just some weird thing isolated to you, but something that a second person (and potentially other people) share.
posted by Rhaomi at 1:02 PM on December 19, 2008

posted by whoaali at 10:48 AM on December 21, 2008

Yeah, resonance I think is the word - i.e. 'that resonates with me'. Good authors are always striving for resonance.
posted by Happy Dave at 11:41 AM on December 21, 2008

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