Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Para Geek Socializing


Okay my nerd, dork, geek, spaz friends, let's talk about the ever-present issue of proper socializing. This is just the first step before we talk about how to make connections.


First, I'd like to show you some of the social mistakes us nerds can make.


"Intellectual snobbery"


Your complaint: "People react so violently to me that they are afraid of how smart I am. They are stupid."

Truth: Unsolicited knowledge in a social setting is not going to be received well. The implication to the person being corrected and educated is that they feel put down and belittled.

Here's how this anti-social behavior plays out.
Someone mentions: "I just love to eat sushi."
Intellectual snob: "Are you talking about real sushi or sashimi? There's a difference, ya know. Sashimi is what most people mistakenly call sushi."


Conversation falls flat.


The cues you are being an intellectual snob:  You feel the need to correct people, often times on the very first communication with that person. Even if you think you are educating a person, you are really putting them down and embarrassing them with unsolicited knowledge.


Correction: Key to making these interactions better - ask yourself why you feel the need to correct or educate someone, especially someone you don't know. If it's ego, put that aside. Instead, agree that sushi is or isn't tasty and keep your knowledge to yourself. 


The exception - if the person says "I love sushi, but not the stuff with the raw fish."
Your reply might be, "yeah, I learned to not ask for sashimi or I would get raw fish." Your knowledge now enlightened them and they feel less stupid because you too learned the knowledge. You also offered a kinship. 


Here's the key - people are not really looking for someone to enlighten them when they voice an opinion. "I love sushi" is a social way of saying "join in the conversation, I'm trying to bring up a subject." This is your cue to reply with a "do you have a favorite sushi place?" That is engaging the person into the conversation they began. 



"Para field tunnel vision"

Your complaint:  Other fields of study are stupid. People are wasting their time in them.

Truth: Since no one has actually been able to weigh, measure or prove anything in the para realm, everyone should be circumspect in how they handle themselves. At some point, one field might get the edge and anyone who thumbed their noses at will be eating crow. Humble helps all the fields of study.

Here's how it might play out -
Someone mentions: Our team is going out on a ghost investigation tonight and I am stoked. The place is supposedly really haunted.
Para field tunnel vision: You ghost people think everything is a ghost, every building is haunted (rolling eyes and sighing).

The person defends their belief in ghosts and then turns ridicule onto your love of Bigfoot research.

Humility is critical among all fields of paranormal research. To boast that yours is the only true study since it involves "biological life forms" is to cut yourself off from critical other areas of study that may be either related to or give rise to technology to help your field, or be proven before your own field. Whatever floats your boat, whatever floats other people's boats; that is all that matters. Before you turn down a field of study, ask questions, learn more from these researchers and witnesses to see why there is such an avid interest in that realm.

Correction:  When the person admits their excitement about their ghost investigation, you can agree that you know how they feel every time you get to go out in the woods. 

None of the etiquette for geeks means giving up your own personal beliefs, knowledge, or stand on issues. It means picking your fights. Here are incidents in which you asserting knowledge or belief is inappropriate and when it is appropriate.



Person: I have been camping all my life and never ran into a Bigfoot. It's absolutely ridiculous to believe there are apes running around our woods unaccounted for. 

APPROPRIATE - You can actually interject knowledge without putting down their study. 

You: Actually, until you've seen one, they do seem like an impossibility, but just know that you have likely never seen a weasel in the woods, but they are certainly there. 



Person:  I wonder why there are northern lights? 

APPROPRIATE - The person posed a quandary/question you can relate insight on.

You: I believe it's because of geomagnetic pulses from solar flares as they strike our atmosphere. 




Person: I have five sisters and I swear if mother has a seventh daughter, she will be the bad seed. (laugh)

INAPPROPRIATE  - There is no need to explain why such superstitions are silly. The person laughed, was obviously making fun of the situation. Continue with the mirth. 

You: Hopefully not something like that 13th kid in the Leeds family that later became known as the Jersey Devil, although it might be fun to have a flying sibling. (laugh)



Person: I had a crappy day. My car broke down and I was late for work and got chewed out. I am ready for a beer.

INAPPROPRIATE: You may want to give advice or asking car details to solve the problem. The person is venting. They aren't asking for advice, only voicing an emotional state. The best tactic is to let them know you heard and understand.

You: I might crack open a beer and join you on that one. 


Social Media


My last advice on the matter of socializing and communication among para geeks is this - we all have different goals. Some people are in the field because it seems sexy and interesting and makes them unique, they are rebels or thrillseekers, whereas others seek answers to strange things they have encountered, and more still are hoping for an industry or TV show. The reasons are vast and vary from ego to personal understanding. So, when dealing with others in the fields of research, remember that your priorities are not theirs and their priorities are not yours. When you understand this, you can save yourself a lot of distress in your expectations.

There are plenty of opportunities (listed at the bottom of this post) for finding groups, but sometimes your best connections come from social networking including boards and forums in areas of interest, but they are often fraught with trolls and lack of monitoring. Some of the more satisfying sites might include LinkedIn, Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, and others. 

You will want to establish yourself in groups and page affiliations on Facebook, but you also want to spend some time watching the postings and interactions on the sites before joining. Issues will show up early on, either in the form of only one person posting, or members being allowed to attack people for simple questions or observations without the admin handling the reins. 

There are behaviors you will begin to notice in the field that will help you to determine if someone is a good connection or a bad one. The truth is, your reputation depends on the folks you hang with. If you hang with the popular but controversial folks, you will lose respect by the real minds in the field, easily considered one of the lemmings. Find out who the real minds in the field are and see how they deal with others. Some folks are obviously making maneuvers to get attention, adoration, a TV show, or believe in some weird way they can make an industry in their avocation. 

Are discussions on the page intelligent? Allow for outside the box views? Given credit and appreciation by members? Don't just jump on Facebook and join every ghost page or group without the research. You are wasting a good deal of your time and affiliating with some folks that you do not want your name associated with.

Be sure you understand your own motives for entering your field of study. If it makes you cool by association or you are hoping to make money off of it or get a show, I won't try to discourage that dream, but I will not support it either. You have ahead of you a world of hurt, backstabbing, financial burden, and great distress. Making associations for these motivations will be superficial and no one will ever truly support you except few hangers-on who would likely dump you in a second if things turn against you. Social media is your best ally for your 15 minutes of fame and a YouTube channel is essential for audience. Your evidence will be criticized greatly and jealousy will cause lots of angry comments. You must toughen up a good deal if this is your goal. 

If you are in the field of study for curiosity, experiences that left you with questions, or a desire to seek knowledge in a field not fully understood, then you are looking for minds in the field, not publicity. You will know the minds when you find them, as they post poignant information, have respected books and sites start stimulating conversations, and eagerly ask questions and wish to learn alongside of you.





Conclusion

Ultimately, para geeks can get very overzealous about their subjects and often highly competitive in online social groups and in competing teams. Egos aside, if you are allowed to let people be either "stupid and unenlightened" or "seeking their own course," then you will get along just fine. If you feel the need to change people or set them straight, you will have issues. It's pretty straightforward. 

As you get to know someone and become friends or associates, it's much easier to voice your opinions without putting them off and they will even come to seek your opinion, but always be certain to state things as "from what I understand" or "from what I've studied" instead of speaking in absolutes such as "Bigfoot IS an ape in the forest." Conversation is easier to get initiated when one doesn't act as if he/she knows everything in the para realm in absolutes. There are no absolutes, not even proof of it existing yet. 

Be humble, ask questions, offer info when asked. 



Socializing opportunities for Para Geeks 


UFO Cons
Horror Cons 
Bigfoot Cons 
Haunted Cons 
Cemetery Association meetings/committees (look for your state online)
Scarefest
Meetup Groups locally for any subject of interest
MUFON meetings 
Geek2Geek dating site
Info about working in haunted attractions




Here's some good para pages on Facebook to check out and blogs with great info - 

Phantoms and Monsters - perhaps the single best archived para stories of every variety on one site. Just amazing! 

Facebook's Anomalous Universe is my favorite info source for unexplained. It is a closed group, so you ask for admittance and when they accept you, you get amazing up to the minute sources of info being published everywhere online. The feed is always inspiring on my news feed. 

Frontiers of Anthropology is a closed group on Facebook that is great if you are into all things ancient and man's place in evolution and civilization.

North American Fortean Society is a great closed group on Facebook that talks about all things unexplained, strange, and quietly spoken about in science and anthropology.

Ghost File Investigations is an open Facebook group that posts lots of info. 

Aliens and UFOs in the Bible is an open group on Facebook that ponders the correlations.

UFOs on Earth is a great open group on Facebook that stays atop of all things UFO. In fact, they are right now looking for some volunteer editors for their growing site.





And, I'm proud to announce that Julie Ferguson and I will be re-releasing our Paranormal Geeks book with new info and interviews and tons of info for all para geeks to feel they found their tribe. Our goal is release on Memorial Day weekend. More on the blog when that occurs. Enjoy also Paranormal Geeks Radio with the amazing host, Jim Heater, on Para-X Radio on Saturdays 6 pm EST/5 pm Central/3 pm Pacific. 




If you want to show your love for being a paranormal geek, enjoy Julie Ferguson's shop online for hundreds of items that show it off. 






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