Topical Testing

I have this recurring problem with Internet lotharios, although in recent times the numbers have thankfully declined. They see my profile picture and start bombarding me with messages.

My first problem with this is that, deep down, it feeds into my insecurity about my appearance. Granted, I have been told all my life that I am beautiful, but it isn’t something I have internalised AT ALL. I don’t feel beautiful. This is in a large part to being overweight, and frankly being told that I am “too beautiful” for such-and-such thing is equally demoralising. However, all things being said, I want to break the subconscious validation I get from weirdos. It is detrimental, and I need to develop mental strength about my looks from within, rather than get it from such a negative source.

The second problem is that I don’t particularly enjoy the attention either. It is, as I noted before, extremely negative. However, I realise that there is person on the other side, and invariably that makes me reluctant to be rude outright.

Then a theory for how to deal with this annoyance hit me like a ton of bricks yesterday. [I should say epiphany, because that’s more positive, but my current favourite turn of phrase is ton of bricks.]

It should come as no surprise that a writer likes to read. [It has surprised people on occasion, and their surprise surprises me. What a convoluted sentence.] Therefore I spend a considerable amount of time trawling through the Internet. Now, I don’t claim to have particularly high-brow or intellectual interests, but I do occasionally read an article that is LONG. Again, I love books, so long articles are very much within my sphere of interest. Quelle surprise.

I devoured two such articles yesterday, and was sliding into a black hole on the subject. [Here are the articles, in case anyone is interested: The Ideological Turing test: How to be less wrong; and How could they?] I posted the first one on Facebook, knowing full well that potentially a fragment of my friends would react. Sure enough, one reaction. But that’s not why I posted it. I wanted someone particular [a close family member] to see it, and I imagine they did. So mission accomplished.

But then it struck me; I post such vapid nonsense on my feed that many of my friends have no idea what I do, no idea what my leanings or beliefs are, and finally no idea where I actually have two thoughts to rub together in my head. They are fairly justified in their surprise when someone who posts about the silliness in their life suddenly displays depth. Unsuspected, hitherto unforeseen depth.

Now, I honestly don’t mind being thought of as intellectually deficient, because social media is so much fluff anyway. But this got me thinking: suppose I start talking about what truly interests me to these random people who approach me?

Bear with me here. I am positing a theory with two potential outcomes.

If I start discussing, and really discussing a subject that I find interesting [I find A LOT of stuff interesting, by the way] in the depth to which I am thinking about it, I reckon I will have solved my problem entirely.

Potential outcome 1 [because I am an uncharitable, judgemental sort, I think this is the most likely outcome]: The person will get bored with the discussion, because in my experience they want something frothy and frivolous, and would prefer to stick to subjects like movies or celebrities. Their boredom, in the face of my relentless “intellectual” barrage about things like psychology, philosophy, food science, history, language, etc., will propel them to leave this miserable blue stocking alone. The face is not worth the incomprehensible babbling.

Potential outcome 2: The person will pick up the gauntlet of debate, and I would have found someone interesting to talk to. A caveat in this situation is that he could be the argumentative sort, with strongly held opinions formed in a narrow world view. That would be frustrating to encounter, as I have experienced before. Hopefully I will deal with it better now though.

[Side note: I once had someone on Twitter tell me: “All females think about it is dress!” After I got over my indignation over the sexism and the appalling grammar, I replied sarcastically: “Well, I can’t speak for every female, but I certainly don’t think about ‘dress’ all the time.” And when he took the bait and congratulated me, I continued: “No, I occasionally spare a thought for ‘shoe’ also.” Of course, he totally missed the sarcasm, and launched into an anecdote about how true it was that women spent too much time thinking about shoes too. Sigh.]

So there it is. My theory on dealing with randoms. I tried this today, and so far potential outcome 1 is holding true. Let’s see how far I can push it.


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