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How Far Do You Go To Fit In?

  1. Jun 26, 2011 #1
    Before you object and declare that you NEVER go out of your way to be "cool" or socially acceptable, think twice. You may be enough on the nerdy side that you'd never get a piercing or tattoo, but, in the pursuit of that nerdiness, say, have you never bought a piece of technology or a program that you felt was necessary to keep up with the geeks in your circle?

    Everyone has a crowd they identify with which usually requires some effort for membership, to signal to others of the same kind you're one of them.

    I happen to know a lot of lesbians, for example, and find that a large percentage of them do, indeed, wear their hair on the short side, and they tend to pick styles of short hair that de-feminize them. I think that's kind of a sacrifice for the sake of telegraphing their sexuality to others.

    In my thread on the "F" word some admitted they don't use it unless around others who do. That's another example.

    I don't remember exactly when it was, but something like 8 or 9 years ago when I was already in my late forties I discovered that EVERYONE else in the world seemed to be involved in this bizarre fad activity that I had no interest in. It came up so often in conversation without me being able to participate that I began to feel like ignorant hairy animal living in a brush shelter in the woods for all I knew about it.

    And so, at great expense and much greater trouble I buckled down and set to work figuring out how to get on to "The Internet".

    My motivation was nothing but the desire to not fall behind, to be able to get what people were saying when they talked about it. So, I have to say I am probably willing to go relatively far for the sake of fitting in, despite not thinking of myself as prone to fads.

    In a like vein, a few weeks ago I sat and watched several Lady Gaga videos just so I'd know what the hell the references meant.

    What's your story? Confess how far you've gone just to fit in.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 26, 2011 #2


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    A majority of my friends are "progressives" and when they go spouting off their nonsensical BS, to fit in I try to pretend like what they are saying makes as much sense as a cat swimming across the Atlantic.
  4. Jun 26, 2011 #3
    What's a "progressive"?

    (I must know so I'll fit in with those who understand the term.)
  5. Jun 26, 2011 #4
    I don't try to fit in. I was done with that phase after I graduated from high school.
  6. Jun 26, 2011 #5


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    I never did fit in, partly because my folks moved about every two years, until we migrated from Australia to the US. We lived in one house for about 7 years, so I knew some kids from 4th to 10th grade, then we moved again, then I was off to college. I spent more time alone than with any group for friends. I did my own thing.
  7. Jun 26, 2011 #6
    i tried to deny my love for physics and nature. i think i was the worst person i new for trying to fit in. i did drugs and alcohol, even though i knew i couldn't handle it and hated it and studied fashion as a career when i knew it was just a hobby. It all just made me miserable and took me down a bad path. but never again i've learnt my lesson. haha :)
  8. Jun 26, 2011 #7
    Being 'cool' is a relative thing. But, if you are intent on staying in one place, then getting to know the locals won't hurt.
  9. Jun 26, 2011 #8
    It's tough to say because a lot of it is subconscious influences. More than anything I end up doing things I don't enjoy doing, in the pursuit of hanging out with my friends.

    I should add that every time I get to go to the bars with my GF's friends and/or coworkers, I have to be about 75% fake just to fit in.
  10. Jun 26, 2011 #9
    Wow. :uhh:
  11. Jun 26, 2011 #10
    I've spent so much of my life trying to hide my intelligence and nerdiness to fit in with society that I no longer realise when I am doing it, and I am one of those ppl that think they never do it :biggrin:
  12. Jun 26, 2011 #11

    I like Serena

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    I tend to hide my knowledge and interest in science too.
    Just so I'm not confronted with a lack of interest, or to be put beforehand into a nerd category. :)

    It's only here on PF and sometimes among colleagues that I do share my love for science.
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2011
  13. Jun 26, 2011 #12
    One of my favorite hobbies is acting completely out of touch with the situation.

    Like around "ghetto" people or "thugs" I know, I love talking as formal as I can and talking about math, science, opera, classical music, literature. It's fun to watch them squirm/get awkward.

    I love doing that. But do you know what I find the funniest about the whole thing though? More often than not, the real "thugs" that I start talking about "high class" things with have an honest interest in it. They'll open up when I start talking about it.

    I was with a friend's house in the projects in Richmond smoking (marijuana) with him and a few friends of mine. Now it's a black dude who's living in the projects in Richmond. He carries a (illegal) handgun with him, and used to sell crack. Anyway, he obviously talks a little different and about different things. But I remember we were smoking and I went on this one rant. I forget what it was, but it was something with science. I was using all real/formal terms. He actually got pretty into it and we had a nice discussion. He actually loosened up and although he still talked with some slang, we had a nice discussion.

    I also remember talking to another "thug" about how awesome Mozart is and about all our favorite classical pieces.

    Honestly, there is a huge stigma against a lot of blacks/latinos about being interested in "high class" subjects. But really think about it, science is awesome. So are classical music/literature/math. Next time you meet a "thug", try talking to them about science or literature. Don't change how you talk, just talk how you would to anyone else and talk to them about your interests. You might be pleasantly surprised.

    And I don't use "thug" as a term for blacks. I use it as a term for a stereotype of blacks...you know, "thugs".
  14. Jun 26, 2011 #13


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    Well - don't hide it here!

    We encourage intelligence and nerdiness. :biggrin:
  15. Jun 26, 2011 #14
    Uh huh.

    I see you're pulling the double faux pas on us here. Keep the act up.
  16. Jun 26, 2011 #15
    Eeek! How did I miss this before? Can this be considered self injury?!
    I know what you mean -_- In high school I was considered "cool" to a certain extent, when in class everyone would want to cheat from me, which led to conflict because I would not comply, and the teachers would not move me to a safe spot :tongue2: because they said I needed to help my classmates etc:rolleyes: Classmates who do not care to learn but want to graduate anyway. I think some of them used to come to school just for the lunch:tongue2:
    Well the problem Astronuc, I've hidden it so long, I think I've even hidden it from myself -_-
  17. Jun 26, 2011 #16
    Did you ever find a group of like minded people in real life where you could be more yourself? I know there are networks of geek-types, even outside colleges.
    Any stories?
    I really have to work myself up to just being moderately sociable in some cases. I'm always sifting through, looking for the people I am actually interested in without effort.
    That's the thing: people are doing it from the get go, in ways they've lost sight of.
    This then is really what I'm getting at: how far would you go to fit in here? I once realized several years back I wouldn't understand a guy's post unless I read a whole book. (Actually, it was broader than that; I wouldn't understand any post on the subject unless I read the book.) So, yeah, I read it.

    Very cool story. I find that being able to draw gets me into all places, but I would never have thought being frank about your academic interests would be an "in" with gangstas. It says so much about where they'd rather be, and suggests it would be possible to redirect their energies. Thanks for that story.
  18. Jun 26, 2011 #17
    I simply ask myself, "What would Feynman do?" He would have watched.
  19. Jun 26, 2011 #18


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    I don't know how hard I try to "fit in". I wear T-shirts and jeans, grow vegetables, and split wood for winter heat. I help neighbors whenever I can, and they reciprocate. In college, I had long hair, pocket protectors (actually to protect my pocket!) and had a large K+E sliderule in a belt-case most every day. Hippie geek who played music at frat parties on weekends...
  20. Jun 26, 2011 #19
    I thought fitting in is what makes us humans.
  21. Jun 26, 2011 #20
    Yep, not to go on about it, but I started this in elementary school, because they sent me to a gifted school for three days out of the week and "normal" school for two days out of the week. In elementary school you cannot hide your intelligence really, because you are always in the highest reading group and sometimes the teacher lets you grade papers or help other students to learn reading/spelling/math/etc. So in this case all I could do was hide my love for the "intelligent things" i.e. hide my nerdiness. This is not as easy as it sounds because you have to study other people. many other people, and see what it is that makes you different from the collective. I remember categorizing personality types LOL in my own way (not the Jung-Meyers 13). And adjusting my interactions with individuals according to the category I associated them with. Surprisingly it always worked.

    As an example of dealing with the collective, I noticed collectively that people did not remember every single thing like I did. They would forget where a crayon was, or forget that they let someone borrow a pencil, etc. I also noticed that people were quite surprised when I asked them for the pencil I lent them a day or two after I let them borrow it. So I began to pretend as if I forgot, and realised they would lose the pencil again, ask me or someone else for a pencil again, and everything was "normal." LOL Funny to remember this :D
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