nancylebov (nancylebov) wrote,

Cats, Dogs, and Jerks (a repost from livejournal)

Bringing back an old post-- I thought everything from livejournal was copied to dreamwidth, but maybe not. There are good comments at livejournal.


Do you think this is accurate?
[Note: this is going to sound at first like PUA advice, but is actually about general differences between the socially-typical and atypical in the sending and receiving of "status play" signals, using the current situation as an example.]

I don't know about "good", but for it to be "useful" you would've needed to do it first. (E.g. Her: "Buy me a drink" You: "Sure, now bend over." Her: "What?" "I said bend over, I'm going to spank your spoiled [add playful invective to taste].")

Of course, that won't work if you are actually offended. You have to be genuinely amused, and clearly speaking so as to amuse yourself, rather than being argumentative, judgmental, condescending, critical, or any other such thing.

This is a common failure mode for those of us with low-powered or faulty social coprocessors -- we take offense to things that more-normal individuals interpret as playful status competition, and resist taking similar actions because we interpret them as things that we would only do if we were angry.

In a way, it's like cats and dogs -- the dog wags its tail to signal "I'm not really attacking you, I'm just playing", while the cat waves its tail to mean, "you are about to die if you come any closer". Normal people are dogs, geeks are cats, and if you want to play with the dogs, you have to learn to bark, wag, and play-bite. Otherwise, they think you're a touchy psycho who needs to loosen up and not take everything so seriously. (Not unlike the way dogs may end up learning to avoid the cats in a shared household, if they interpret the cats as weirdly anti-social pack members.)

Genuine creeps and assholes are a third breed altogether: they're the ones who verbally say they're just playing, while in fact they are not playing or joking at all, and are often downright scary.

And their existence kept me from understanding how things worked more quickly, because normal people learn not to play-bite you if you bare your claws or hide under the couch in response ! So, it didn't occur to me that all the normal people had just learned to leave me out of their status play, like a bunch of dogs learning to steer clear of the psycho family cat.

The jerks, on the other hand, like to bait cats, because we're easy to provoke a reaction from. (Most of the "dogs" just frown at the asshole and get on with their day, so the jerk doesn't get any fun.)

So now, if you're a "cat", you learn that only jerks do these things.

And of course, you're utterly and completely wrong, but have little opportunity to discover and correct the problem on your own. And even if you learn how to fake polite socialization, you won't be entirely comfortable running with the dogs, nor they you, since the moment they actually try to "play" with you, you act all weird (for a dog, anyway).

That's why, IMO, some PUA convversation is actually a good thing on LW; it's a nice example of a shared bias to get over. The LWers who insist that people aren't really like that, only low [self-esteem, intelligence] girls fall for that stuff, that even if it does work it's "wrong", etc., are in need of some more understanding of how their fellow humans [of either gender] actually operate. Even if their objective isn't to attract dating partners, there are a lot of things in this world that are much harder to get if you can't speak "dog".

tl;dr: Normal people engage in playful dog-like status games with their actual friends and think you're weird when you respond like a cat, figuratively hissing and spitting, or running away to hide under the bed. Yes, even your cool NT friends who tolerate your idiosyncracies -- you're not actually as close to them as you think, because they're always more careful around you than they are around other NTs.

By PJ Eby.

I'm not signing onto the idea that everyone who's uncomfortable with teasing should learn how to handle it or they're missing out on a lot of the good in life. As a strongly catlike person, I'm curious about whether the description of interactions is plausible.

I suspect that a lot of social difficulty is caused by dog types who *don't* know how to dial it down with cats, or are so in love with their usual behavior that they feel they shouldn't have to. They aren't jerks (those who enjoy tormenting cats), but they can look rather similar.

And as for real cats and dogs, I've met at least one cat who grew up with dogs and does a pretty good approximation of tail-wagging. Most of the tail motion comes from the base-- the tail isn't as stiff as a dog's tail, of course, but you don't see the full feline tail thrash-- and the cat isn't upset. This entry was posted at Comments are welcome here or there. comment count unavailable comments so far on that entry.
Tags: cats, dogs, jerks, people, teasing

  • Post a new comment


    Anonymous comments are disabled in this journal

    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    Your IP address will be recorded