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The Programmer Species

How many of you programmers find yourself in an uncomfortable when in a conversation not concerning of your work with a stranger or a conversation about day-to-day routine type stuff that does not relate to your work? Is this a behavioural abberation or a thing that rubs off on programmers?

Sathyaish Chakravarthy
Wednesday, December 24, 2003

I don't know.

Crap is crap any way you put it.  If anybody asks me what I work as, I say 'generic computer crap' and if they mention their jobs and the silly process they had to go through that day, I tend to tell them to shutup, I hope if I do the same as them they'll do the same.

Boring crap is boring any way you paint it.

fw
Wednesday, December 24, 2003

What's your age, fw?

Sathyaish Chakravarthy
Wednesday, December 24, 2003

SC,

I'm not sure what you're asking. Are you asking if others have difficulty talking about nonnechnical subjects with others?

Dennis Atkins
Wednesday, December 24, 2003

I despise small talk beyond the 2 sentences I have to utter when buying a coffee.  I also find that when I get in a conversation beyond pleasantries, there comes a time when someone will go beyond what I can swallow and it becomes too much...

My wife takes care of a little girl after school.  Her mother came over for an x-mas beverage and we exchanged the usual.  After about 3 Nogs, we started to descend into her divorce, her belief in psychics, etc.

This woman is the Director of Child Welfare in a large North American City.  Big Cheese, Head Honcho, Buck stops here type of person and all I could think was "What an idiot!"

Probably my failing but it inevitably reaches this point.  It's not that I can't or don't want to have these exchanges, it's just that they are so unsatisfying.  Must be age and cynicism.  Who the hell knows?

And this is not to say that she didn't think the exact same thing about me.  I touched briefly on physics, elegant universe on Nova and was met with the usual, "Oh, you're a geek" look.

"How 'bout them Yankees?"


Wednesday, December 24, 2003

Many people have a tendency to dislike, despise and ridicule that which we don't understand.  That includes both geeks and non-geeks.

Many geeks find small-talk boring because it's intellectually unsatisfying.  There's little to engage the mental gears.  Curiously enough, it's our focus on the mental and intellectual that makes us disliked by most people.  Most people want to feel good and have fun -- and they have neither the inclination nor the intelligence to engage in intellectual discourse.  My girlfriend, for example, refers to this website as "Fog Geek".

I've found that there is a lot of value in kicking back and just having fun with people, instead of being bored by their lack of ability to participate in a discussion that requires a PhD and 150 IQ.

-Thomas

Thomas
Thursday, December 25, 2003

I thrive on it. I love meeting new people, and despite spending half my life thinking I'm an introvert, I'm actually pretty gregarious.

Did I mention my recent transition from "geek" to sales? [grin]

Philo

Philo
Thursday, December 25, 2003

I agree with Thomas. There's an old saying, "That dude needs to get laid." it's applied to people who are too uptight to know how to kick back and relate to people. I admit it's a bit hard for some -- I used to be s hy and it was hard to approach people. One key is to find a common interest. Another is to MAKE the conversation interesting for you. Are they interested in psychics? Fine, well I happen to be a psychic. Let's get out these playing cards my friends and I will introduce you to the amazing world of what is known as the Cold Reading. Soon you'll be the life of the party.

Dennis Atkins
Thursday, December 25, 2003

"Many geeks find small-talk boring because it's intellectually unsatisfying.  There's little to engage the mental gears."

That's the most pretentious thing I've read in a while.

Why does every last word that comes out of someone's mouth have to be "intellectual"? What the hell do you say to someone when they've just rolled out of bed? "Gee, you know, I was just pondering Wiles' proof of Fermat's last theorem and..." No. Does a "good morning" pain your intellectual mind so much? Is that too much to ask, O Prodigious One? (Not addressing the author but that attitude in general.)

No wonder so many of us have a tough time getting girls.

Warren Henning
Thursday, December 25, 2003

You might have it backwards: Do programmers have bad social skills? Or do people with bad social skills flock toward programming?

http://www.autism.org/temple/jobs.html

"In conclusion: a person with Asperger's syndrome or autism has to compensate for poor social skills by making themselves so good in a specialized field that people will be willing to 'buy' their skill even though social skills are poor"

Tom Hathaway
Thursday, December 25, 2003

I definitely think other human beings are a lot more interesting and important than programming and science in general.

There are some people that I know quite well that disagree and prefer to lose themselves in scientific findings or code.  Usually these people have had pretty tough upbringings.  I've certainly used work and programming as a distraction from human matters which are altogether more important.  Programming is a process with extremely predictable results which you can easily control.  The exact opposite of humans.  I guess it is easier to talk about things in the context of science and/or programming - it is safe, and you aren't going to be hurt.  To talk about peoples lives, their experiences, what things mean to them, and what they have learnt might not be as safe.  Because you'll find that many other people have 'more' of what you want in their lives and it can be painful to hear about it.  Easier to talk about coding huh?  I certainly find it that way.  Probably a sign that I should be talking about something else.

Says he triumphantly, hanging around in JoelOnSoftware forums on Christmas day =).

Konrad
Thursday, December 25, 2003

"I despise small talk beyond the 2 sentences I have to utter when buying a coffee."

Ok we got it, hermit.  I think you qualifiy for the 'needs to get laid' category...

Cletus
Thursday, December 25, 2003

"I despise small talk beyond the 2 sentences I have to utter when buying a coffee."

Gotta agree with Cletus, anyone who can't withstand withstand more than two sentences of dialogue has a  problem. 

I used to hate small talk, like people talking about their dumb pet cat, their kids, etc.  But it's so easy to learn to spew forth.  Don't find it "mentally stimulating"!?  Then use it as a springboard for improvised jokes, daily levity, etc. 

It's disturbing how a  so many people kid themselves into believeing their social dysfunction is somehow a symptom of some kind of imagined mental superiority. 

Either learn to socialize, or just be a happy hermit and shut up already! 

Tired of geeks.
Friday, December 26, 2003

I can venture to guess that those who work and interact with the  "nameless hermit geek" feel they can't speak more then two sentences to him either. 

I can imagine some of the conversations going like this:

Hapless Associate (HA)  says, "Hey, Nameless Hermit Geek (NHG), so how 'bout them Yankees? "

NHG replies, "Did I ever tell you about Big O notation?"

Hapless associate replies, "Big O what? Who are they?  Is that like some kinda new G spot or something"

NHG then replies, "H'about Little Endian vs. Big Endian"

HA then remarks, "What are those, AA baseball teams?"

I wonder if there is some kind of "Socializing for dummies" or "The art of simple conversation for dummies & geeks"

Cletus
Friday, December 26, 2003

When I was young, I had the same problem - didn't know how to make smalltalk.

The solution for learning how to smalltalk :) is simple:

- for that moment, forget about thinking a lot

- forget about the filter between your brain and your mouth

- The essential rule is: just say what comes to mind - anything, even if it seems stupid

I know these rules seem tough, but they work very well.

MX
Friday, December 26, 2003

>I wonder if there is some kind of "Socializing for dummies" or "The art of simple conversation for dummies & geeks"

How about http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/155977505X/002-5955537-8351211?v=glance for starters :).

-Thomas

Thomas
Friday, December 26, 2003

That book looks interesting, but my personal choice would be http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0446676888

www.MarkTAW.com
Saturday, December 27, 2003

This is an issue that I really have to see both ways.

On the one hand, if all you're really so cut off from humanity that you can't relate to those around you in even the simplest ways, then I pity you. You really need to Get A Life, first and foremost to help yourself.

On the other hand, if you're really deeply interested in something, or perhaps lots of things, and you're met with the crushing stupidity of people who *only* can talk about sports teams or what's on TV, it's enough to make you go postal, or live in a cave and send out bombs by mail.

Find your balance somewhere in the middle.

Portabella
Monday, December 29, 2003

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