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Andrei's Universe

One man's journey from infinity to nothingness

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How to unnerve people on line

I'm standing on a long line in front of a pair of Asian women. They began carrying on a conversation in <<Insert glyph based language I sure as hell don't know>>. Normally, when on line, if you hear a conversation near you, you casually acknowledge it and may jump in or pay attention to it.. if it seems appropriate.

While the U.S. doesn't have a standard, primary language... I find the use of non-English in the US is a way for a group to cordon themselves off. It sets up an intentional wall in a manner similar to installing a fence around your yard.

While language may be foreign... tone, body language, aren't.

I found myself paying attention to the conversation I didn't understand. I was riding along with the tone. And found myself chuckling at a pause point that felt like a humourous statement.

I found the one woman unnerved that I chuckled with her friend. It was as if I'd walked through her gate. She seemed to be wondering. "Oh, crap. Does he speak my language?"

So not eavesdropping. But a very interesting sociological and psychological experiment.

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I LOVE this.

I am pretty oriented to body language and tone, so I often follow along with conversations that I don't understand the details of.

Last time gave me a chance to use one of my favorite phrases "I am an American, not deaf."

I supose I am being disrespectful of their desire to cordon themselves off, but it really brings me pleasure for some reason.

Hi P,

I'm guessing that's because when we have the emotional experience of feeling excluding, sometimes it feels like retaliation would be satsifying, or at least, that naming and verbally recognizing the act gives us some of our power back. Or so it has worked for me at times.

Maybe you're being disrespectful...but maybe that's triggered by the initial rudeness of being pointedly excluded conversationally by use of language.

I guess the bottom line is think about what you want: is it to be recognized/respected/not picked on, or is it stemming from a real desire to be included? If it's the latter, keep working on it - I think you might really get somewhere. But try to be nicer than they are ;)))

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