Tuesday, September 25, 2007

honesty week...

Honesty Week is nearing completion. My feelings on the experiment fluctuate. My social life these past five days has been a state of near-constant embarrassment, punctuated by bursts of euphoric catharsis.

Shortly after the experiment began, I told one friend that she wears too much makeup. During the next four days before she replied, I suffered excruciating humiliation every time I thought of how I broke social custom. Her response was very mature, though, and together we figured out that my real issue was actually her tendency to dwell on negative topics.

I told a couple people how much I appreciate them. That was one perk -- having a good excuse to tell friends how dear they are to me. Schmaltzy email chain letters are always preaching about how you should live every day as though it were your last, and "tell your loved ones that you care". But most of the time when you go up to a friend on a normal day and start talking about how much you love them, they just say, "What the fuck is wrong with you?"

Not so with the experiment:

niniane: i want to say, with all honesty, that you are an amazing person, beautiful and sweet and so smart and socially gifted
Sha-mayn: awwww. thank you!!!
niniane: you know it is all 100% truth, due to experiment
Sha-mayn: i love honesty week!!!!!!!!
Sha-mayn: :D

Tonight at the Halo 3 party, I ran into a guy who asked me out last year. This guy was focused on schmoozing, and asked me several times for favors relating to Google despite my reluctance.

One time, as a joke, I asked him if he read The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists, a book on how to seduce women via emotional manipulation (for example, insult her to make her feel vulnerable). It reminded me of his careful motives that laid behind his actions, but I didn't think anyone was ridiculous enough to actually follow the idea.

He replied by gushing about how much he loves the book.

Tonight, standing by the chocolate fondue table:

    Guy: "I think you and I didn't click because we're too similar in some ways."

    Me: "No, it was because you're annoying."

Afterwards I felt extremely guilty.

Was there any point to saying that, instead of giving a polite answer? Can it possibly generate any constructive result, instead of just being negative?

Some of my other "radically honest" exchanges had more immediately visible benefit.

I don't know.


KE Liew said...

Sometimes honesty doesn't have to be rude. ;)

Eugene said...

Your experiment reminds me of a situation in an old computer game, when your character was exploring a town dedicated to the virtue of honesty. When trying to find the most honest person in that town, you were told that while this person was by far the most honest, he lacked the virtue of tact, and so had been killed.

Anonymous said...

If you told him before your rejection, it would be much better.


physalia said...

Queue the lyrics to "Policy of Truth" by Depeche Mode.

Anonymous said...

Wired once published short stories of six words each. One was:

Lie detector eyeglasses perfected: Civilization collapses.
- Richard Powers

That's my opinion on human society. Lying is the main mechanism how you establish and maintain relationships. It's the most important ingredient of the glue that holds people together. (Also the reason why I quit society and became a hermit.)

William said...

The point might be that some shmoozing, manipulative jerk might be a little more civil in the future because he realizes he's not getting away with nearly as much as he thinks.

I'd call that fabulous, but admittedly, it's other people who mainly benefit, not you.

Anonymous said...

Is he one of those cocky guys that takes a no as in keep trying until you slap him the face kind of guy?
or if he is a genuine guy trying to get with you and the comment you said is kinda hurtful and like one of the poster says "honesty doesn't have to be rude."

Anonymous said...

you play Halo?
*falls in love.

Zebe said...

I was at the party, playing Halo much of the time, but I didn't see you there. Maybe your annoying acquaintance had one thing right - talking to girls at the chocolate fountain instead of playing video games all night.

Oh well. At least I came home with a Halo 3 achievement on my Xbox Live profile, timestamped before the release of the game. Nerds for life!

neha said...

not only do i think it was perfectly reasonable that you told him he was annoying, i think you had a responsibility to do so.

he probably doesn't have a very high emotional IQ. just imagine him walking around in a daze, thinking he's really good at connecting with people, when really each person secretly dislikes him but acts polite so as not to hurt his feelings. you finally told him the truth!

ArC said...

Technically, "we're too similar in some ways" and "you're annoying" don't have to be mutually exclusive...

Anonymous said...

Being honest doesn't mean you have to be rude. I think "honesty week" needs to be refined. Perhaps a better term for the week you just experienced would be "the week I crapped on everyone I know just because I can"

Jim said...

Acknowledging that this guy wasn't very skillful in his pick-up by being sharp with him isn't so much rude as it is declarative that he's failing miserably.

First rule at a social event, decide what you're there for. Schmoozing and picking-up on the same person is in bad taste and don't mix. He should have decided whether he wanted you to do a favor for him or to wanted to get to know you. Then, compounding his death spiral, he cops that he loves, "Pickup Artists". Nice! His last mistake was a sympathy plea about how you can't mix because you're too similar. Clearly, this pup needs housebreaking.

You should not feel one wit of guilt. On this individual, you acted appropriately.

Philipp Lenssen said...

Interesting thought experiment, but do you really know all your innter truths? What if you simply subconsciously rejected that guy's odor when you first met him, and the more articulate parts of your brain framed it into rational categories to avoid dissonance? The mind has miraculous ways to lie to itself which might seriously distort your radical honesty week. If nothing else, you might be lying to yourself to think you are fully non-selective about which truths to share. For instance, there may be tons of stuff about yourself you didn't tell Mr. Annoying because it would have made you vulnerable.

Anonymous said...

I'm with celticagent, and ke liew: Honesty != Rude. Actually, eugene's post about lacking the virtue of tact is a great statement.

Youtea said...

Who would go to a Halo 3 party to pick up girls? It's like how older guys go to church to pick up younger girls. wtf?

ArC said...

Then, compounding his death spiral, he cops that he loves, "Pickup Artists". Nice!

I got the impression that N knows this guy in her social circle and the paragraph about him was a compilation of several distinct events.

John said...

Funny, in regards to The Game. I've read it, more for entertainment value than anything else. I can't believe guys are successful using the techniques of the book.

As for feeling guilty about being rude to the guy, don't be. He's been annoying to you on several occasions. If he doesn't get the hint, than being explicitly clear with him is perfectly fine.

I remember meeting up with my friend who I had not seen in years, along with some other college friends, and she was just being annoying as hell (as she can talk and dominate a conversation) and I told her straight-up to shut up! Well, she was a close friend, so she didn't take it too harshly.

But this guy seems like a creep to me.

metal said...

So a guy you know went to a xbox 360 halo 3 party to ask you about google?

Did he also suggest to you that you guys go play ps3 in the corner?

Anyways I wouldnt feel bad about taking a cheap shot at a guy whos mostly talking to you to get either a date or a job out of you.

Seems .... kinda selfish or something.

kaichang said...


It's interesting how selective our memory can be in culling images that best fit our current-day biases/opinions.

Thankfully, email archives can lend a level of objectivity to what could be a Rashamon-style set of conflicting stories.

My actual response in its entirety, to your email:

I already have this book in PDF form. :) But thanks for thinking of me! :D

Interesting read ... there's a lot of truth in it, exposing the dark
underbelly of evolutionary biology and how it shapes the way our brains are wired.

Have you read it?

If you really think that is a 'gushing' review, I would encourage you to post a poll with that exact text, and ask your readers whether they consider it as such.

It's been my experience that people who make a big to-do about 'honesty' are the ones who have the most trouble with it. Honest people just ARE - they don't need to trumpet their virtue to the heavens and let you know just how damn truthful they are.

As for your behavior Monday evening - it was viciously hurtful and unnecessarily rude. Sure, I was hurt, but I took it in stride - having my personality, resilience is a survival skill as essential as breathing. It is fitting that you should feel guilty after that display. I did not retaliate, and encouraged you: "if this is an awkward conversation, please feel free to disengage and walk. I'll take no further offense."

Ask yourself - why did my statement "we react most viscerally to the sins of others that we relate to most in ourselves" inspire a reaction? I was talking about myself at that moment - and why I have a disproportionately strong antipathy to image-conscious personalities with large egos. It's the flaw I most relate to.

Spinning a slanted, self-flattering story so anonymous commenters can suck up to you and tell you how righteous you are in blowing off this jerk may feel good. But does it enrich your life in a meaningful way?

Odd as it may sound, I do appreciate running into you Monday evening, as it gave me an opportunity for me to practice patience and diplomacy in the face of difficult people.

It's clear that my role in your life is largely served by being a conversational foil to your stories - and if certain facts need to be massaged to fulfill that point, so be it.

If this is how you are during 'honesty week' - I fear how you are the other 348 days of the year.

I'll understand if you delete this comment. As a courtesy to others, when I write about someone in this level of detail, I make it a policy to let them know about it ahead of time and give them veto/edit input before posting. Would appreciate a heads-up in the future.


Niniane said...

Thanks for the comment. I will of course not delete it.

Anonymous said...

You didn't get rejected because you're annoying. You got rejected cuz you're Asian, and Niniane is a self-hating Asian. duh!

Niniane said...

Well, now there's a comment I'm tempted to delete.

Anonymous said...

awwww. . don't be like that.

Anonymous said...

Oh, and PS -- Asian or not, any man who reads shit like "The Game" is just a whiney little bitch who wants to get the low-self esteem women, the golddigging whores, and the crazies who are manipulated by their techniques so that they can bitch and moan to their little boyfriends about how all women are low self estee, gold digging whores, and crazies.

You can use those techniques and get laid every night. Just shut the fuck up when your pee burns the next day or you end up with some stalker, kthx.

Anonymous said...

@kaichang :

rock on brother! well said.

:-) (-: said...

I have slept with many women who in the beginning said that I was annoying... Easy... It's not about technique...Patience is what it takes. Every woman has peroids in her life when she is open, needy, experimental, lonely, looking, searching... Be nice, keep a fairly clean reputation and sooner or later when one of those situations happen you will be in her radar. Sometimes it takes 1 year and sometimes 9 or 10... Wait patiently for your quarry.

Patience my man.

It is only a matter of time before Niniane whispers quietly in Kaichangs ear...

"You well hung Asian hunk, Pull my hair while you spank me"

Niniane said...

I will never, ever, ever, ever say that to Kai Chang.

Anonymous said...

uhh. .only gay dudes use the term "well hung". No woman would ever use that term.

Yessssssss said...

Niniane said...
I will never, ever, ever, ever say that to Kai Chang.

So there is hope for other men to hear these SWEET words?

I will have lucid dreams tonight thinking about the possibilities.

:-) (-: said...

Anonymous said...
uhh. .only gay dudes use the term "well hung". No woman would ever use that term.


Maybe.. But only a liar would use "well hung" and "Asian" in the same sentence.

Must be a gay liar?

omar said...

hmm sometimes i wonder if being completely honest is worth it -- there can certainly be a lot of stress involved, for all parties. i think being honest with your friends about problems that are bothering you is important -- if they really are your friend, they'll make it a priority to get to the heart of things with you, and express how they feel about the situation (including how the problem was raised).

i remember a time, years ago, where you and i were having a bit of a problem. i said something mean to you, though i can't recall the exact details (but recent discussions with you about random events leads me to believe that you haven't forgotten!). there was certainly something more to it, and i remember you being the big and caring person and calling me and talking with me about it. you have always been a great friend to me and i deeply appreciate your honesty.

now for people who i don't really know, i don't think i'm nearly as honest as you were this past week -- i'm not sure that i or the other person would benefit from the honesty. though perhaps your point is that *you* benefit, the other person be damned? or that re need to reorient ourselves to the value of clear honesty? because i think a lot of studies have shown that people don't really listen to people who aren't in their "group" so the acquaintance/receiver (not a close friend, and hence you're not in their "group") might actually just be hurt, even if there is value in what you're saying.

Lying bastards said...

I am very very non judgmental... (Externally that is)

More realistically I simply do not say negative things.
(Possible people pleaser personality?)

I think that this makes people think that they can tell me
ANYTHING and I will be OK with it.

While some part of me enjoys the true story from the dark side.
(As I am that sure most people do)

It makes me have to think (lie, filter, hide) about everything that I say to other people within the same group.

If these jackasses did not feel the need to confess things that should not be known by me...

I would not need to filter my speech to others.

So the secretive, sneaky, lying bastards force me to be on their level and not be honest.

I am not the one doing the underhanded deeds but my interaction with other people is affected.

Some people can sense this as I sense it in others.