The 30 Second Window of Opportunity Before Social Awkwardness Kicks In
In a private conversation, I mentioned to Sacha that I noticed that he would put down “Conversation with people in small groups (or one on one) in quiet places” as an interest on his 'about' page. I asked him to elaborate, and has done so publicly: “The 'small group' issue is important because when you are dealing with a larger group, people tend to cluster within the people that they know, which makes a large group environment a terrible way of getting to know other people. At a restaurant, this is impossible because of the seating arrangements. In free-standing environments, you literally have to 'isolate and conquer' in order to make progress. Isolation involves wrenching a hapless victim out of their 'comfort group'. After you've accomplished this, when you get to the 'conquer' stage, it appears to be contrived ("Hi, who are you, what do you do, etc.") and goes nowhere since there is absolutely zero depth you can cover in the 30 second window of opportunity before social awkwardness kicks in. For an introvert, this is something that takes an exhausting amount of social effort to pull off successfully. It's also impossible if both people involved are introverted. So it's critical that the groups involved be small, or preferably one-on-one.”
I identify with everything he writes about that: any place where it feels like I'm interrupting someone else's conversation in order to introduce myself, or any event with a large group of people where I know someone already, I'll either hang out with that group exclusively or sit (or walk) around somewhere and just people-watch. It's the main reason I hate parties: I end up doing something that I could have done just as easy at home but listening to music I want to listen to, reading what I want to read (i.e. something rather than the nothing people read at parties, because honestly, who other than me would rather be reading at a party?). I've been to a few parties where people have noticed the t-shirt—usually when I'm the only one there wearing a t-shirt—I was wearing, and wondered what "creative commons" means or were intrigued by the sentence on my hoodie—usually when I'm the only one wearing a hoodie—that reads "all you need are kisses to start a makeout party".
Sacha goes on to discuss the "quiet places" part of his 'interest'. That's the main reason I don't find the bar/club scene worthwhile. Granted, loud thumping music is usually designed to get people to shake their booty, so a place for having thoughtful conversations about the state of reality TV a dance club is not. Sacha has a theory about why places like that are popular: he says they are designed to get two people close to each other in order to increase the odds of attraction between them. If that's true, then how does he account for people like him and myself, who can't hear at least half of what the person sitting next to them is saying? And why aren't there physical places for people who hate the bar scene (and more generally, places where strangers congregate to get drunk and talk loudly to each other) to have a discussion about the relationship between a man's foot size and ... well nevermind.