Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Weirdos in the depression (plover.com)
389 points by johndcook on June 3, 2020 | hide | past | favorite | 308 comments

> Doc has a beard, and people are always asking him why he has a beard. Doc learned a long time ago that it makes people angry and suspicious if he tells the truth

I purposely have a big ole homeless looking beard specifically to keep people at arms length.

Ironically one time in a single weekend it backfired twice...on a Friday while doing planks/pushups on a yoga mat in a park I was attacked by someone yelling “get out of my country” because they thought I was a Muslim praying to Mecca. Then the very next day I went to fresh market and ordered bacon and baby back ribs from the butcher and was confronted in the store by a man who followed me into the parking lot to attack me for being a bad Jew and ordering bacon and ribs on the sabbath.

I’m neither Muslim nor Jewish, and even after learning this neither of my attackers were apologetic.

Have experienced similar things as a Sikh all over the world when I still had an uncut beard.

From not being allowed inside a club for wearing a turban to being hugged by someone for being allah’s son.

Man, did being a Sikh teach me something about negative assumptions based on appearance.

I remind myself that it is nothing but a survival instinct and even I was doing this in one way or another.

> Have experienced similar things as a Sikh all over the world when I still had an uncut beard.

10 years ago, my neighbors were Sikh (I moved since then). They had all sorts of stories about how 9/11 got them confused with Muslims.

They were pretty big extroverts, and threw a lot of parties, and came to virtually every neighborhood party. But I can't help but think that they felt the need to socialize, to make sure their neighbors knew who they were.

Those parties are how I learned what a Sikh was. Before that, I did think they were Muslim. So it worked. But yeah, it probably sucks that they had to work extra hard to make sure people understood who they were.

Even non-Sikh Punjabis tend to be extroverts :)

Being a sikh confused for a muslim is bad, but the implicit assumption that being a muslim is somehow worse is also bad.

Well, for me specifically, it was just kind of embarrassing to be the ignorant one.

Its like, I'm going over to my Muslim neighbor to see their birthday party. Later on... well... actually they were Sikh and I was ignorant and didn't know the difference until I asked them.

Fortunately, my neighbors must have been very familiar with the confusion, because they handled the discussion "what is a Sikh" pretty well.


During 9/11 itself, I was in Catholic school. The teachers made it very clear that we needed to learn more about other religions at the time. So we visited local Churches, Synagogues and Mosques as part of various field trips. So I was familiar with Muslims, Jews, Protestants.

But we never visited a Sikh temple. I simply didn't know that religion even existed until I met my neighbors a few years later.

I think it's more like, if you assume that someone is Italian and then find out that they're Mexican, it's awkward that you made an incorrect assumption about their ethnicity despite the assumption being neutral in terms of judgment.

Yes, it seems that the weirdness of the mentioned interactions does not mainly stems from the confusion of the faith. It's based on people expressing their judgement of you as a person in relation to their perceived faith.

I think it’s absolutely amazing how much we put into looks and first impressions. My story is the opposite of yours, being a fit white Scandinavian cisgendered male who looks the part of an IT/banking manager when I’m clean cut. The amount of privilege afforded to me based purely on my looks and what I’m wearing is just insane, and I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve often used it to my advantage.

These days I look like a hippie, sporting a full corona beard, coloured or happy message t-shirts, stretchy jeans and sandals. And it’s a whole different story, people offer me no leeway. Ironically my career and I guess wealth/status has progressed exactly opposite to my looks. So people should really stop judging anyone at face value.

Even then, it is quite likely that people offer you a ton of leeway still. It's only in comparison to your previous style that you see the reduction.

A friend of mine is considered white in the country he was born in (Guyana) and black in the country he's in now (Canada), and despite being always extremely well groomed and styled, he still ends up being very very clearly followed by security whenever he goes shopping. In comparison I've been to those places while looking more than scruffy, not showered, etc.. and have received nods and smiles from the security in every one of those places. Sometimes it's even happening simultaneously: if we enter separately only one of us gets followed. And this is downtown Toronto, one of the supposedly most diverse cities on Earth.

Oh, you’re absolutely right about that. I probably wouldn’t be able to pull off my hippie look in my position if I wasn’t a Scandinavian man.

People just don’t automatically attribute me with financial power anymore. On the flip-side, anything “being a dad” related is much better now that people assume I work less.

>> Ironically my career and I guess wealth/status has progressed exactly opposite to my looks.

A friend of mine is an engineering consultant (software) and looks shabby. He met me for lunch one day after seeing a client and I said "you went to see them like that?" He said it's part of the uniform. It sends a message about being good enough not to worry about superficial impressions. I'm sure in some cases that's true.

The "uniform" thing is very true. I'm a software developer in the Pacific Northwest who loves to wear suits (they look damn good on me). I was told long ago that jeans and a hoodie are the de-facto uniform of my profession, and I needed to dress the part.

That got really hammered home when I showed up to a job interview in a button-down shirt and slacks and I was _far_ more dressed-up than the CEO. Getting bounced for not being a "culture fit" cleared up any lingering ambiguity.

I'm a t-shirt and jeans person but I will never go to an in-person interview without a button-down shirt. If a company judges me negatively for wearing that then it's not a place I want to work.

The opposite thing happened to me. I work as a lawyer and I was advised to get nicer suits and grow a beard to look older. I was told that my work was good, but appearances mattered. They said that I wasn't looking trustworthy enough to be presented to clients.

Once while giving a talk at a dev conference I was heckled just after being introduced. This was over 10 years ago but it was something to the effect of "get off the stage, suit". I wasn't wearing a suit but apparently my overall look screams "sales guy"...

I was pleasantly surprised when I completed my talk and the guy who heckled me (I never even saw him) came up to me and apologized. Then again this was in Toronto so maybe the old stereotype about apologetic Canadians is more true than not!

The "shabby nerd" stereotype is a very real thing and it goes both ways.

This is so true. There's been a lot of times when I cleaned up my look and wore really nice clothes to work, just because I felt like looking good -- and the number of "going for a job interview?" jokes I got all the time was countless. It's like a requirement to dress down.

Then again it might be more due to the change compared to the baseline.

> "going for a job interview?"

I always reply with "every day is a job interview, baby" and do cheesy finger guns. That shuts them up.

Ugh, that joke was thrown around so many times at our office, whenever anyone dared show up to work in a button-down shirt and slacks. Or some variant like "Good luck on your job interview today!" or "Looks like you need to take an extra long lunch today. Let me know how it went."

Also bandied about here in the UK as an accompaniment to that is: "Going to court?"

"Yes, I've been stealing hearts."

I got a more conservative haircut once and the CEO asked if I was job hunting.

I dont think it is amazing at all. It makes sense from an evolutionary standpoint.

Adhering to aesthetic cues signals conforming with society at large. If you are not in, you are clearly a threat. For example, if you dont follow simpler things, what bona fides can you provide that you will respect fundamental aspects of the society you are part of?

First impressions are a self-preservation mechanism.

Its not illogical. That being said this presents very interesting diamond-in-the-rough opportunities to visionaries

I've seen something similar with my fitness. I've gone from competitive powerlifter to very obese to moderately fit, and the ways in which it changes the way almost everyone interacts with you, all the time, is just insane - from the quite subtle (being more deferential, more pleasant, slightly more generous with their time) to not subtle at all ("you're so smart! You look so shy; I wouldn't have guessed you're so smart until you started speaking.")

I wonder if some of that is that you also behave differently when more fit vs not. Like maybe more subconsciously confident when fit?

I feel like that's pretty likely a bigger element of it when I was younger, though I'm sure it always figures in to some degree. Although part of it is circular: when people all treat you like you're nicer/smarter/etc. you feel more confident, too.

But some of it was just a bit too much of a stretch to just be confidence. I'm /generally/ a pretty confident person, and comfortable with people, and the difference in how many people suddenly can vs. can't find the time of day for you is pretty dramatic.

And, of course, some of it was just not subtle at all. I'd been told pretty frankly I was too fat to be a doctor. Because, you know, clearly my personal struggles with my weight have a direct correlation to my ability to diagnose your ailment. (Okay, I'm still salty about that one.)

Slightly off topic, I bought a pair of "stretchy jeans" recently but didn't know the term or know how to define what was good about them, so thanks for that! (Apparently there was some effort put into marketing these jeans - ostensibly "women's clothing" - to men https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2018/11/jeggings-... )

I've heard stories from salesmen at Porsche dealers that the people who come in puffed up, clean cut and suited are more likely to buy a base mode;, while the guys who buy the top end cars are often scraggly looking. Definitely something to be said for being successful enough you're no longer trying to convince people you're successful.

...by buying a top of the line Porsche?

Most of the top line Porsche are very performance oriented versions of each model with some pretty radical departures from normal car features. Lack of back seats, rollcages, hard racing suspension, loud. The people that buy these are after race cars for the street.

You might be shocked to find that people buy top-end kit to impress absolutely no one. I have a top-of-the-line BMW motorcycle. I don't care if you know that, nor if you are impressed (you shouldn't be, they're less expensive than many Harleys). I bought it because I wanted it, and it would do the things I wished it to do.

I was, however, probably the scraggliest customer in the showroom when I bought it.

Everyone in auto sales has a story like this. The moral is to never judge someone by their looks. Always act like they're going to buy.

Anecdote: I once was able to board a high speed train going back to my home country while carrying a license plate from the country of departure and I only got a slight frown from the train officer(?) when I handed out my first class ticket (for a really long travel).

These two comments remind me yet again how our appearance is "marketing." I recognized at some point mid-highschool (10th year of schooling Age 15/16) that the way people dressed was being used as a signal by other people on how to treat them.

Because I found this interesting I created an arbitrary taxonomy and then talked to people I knew who fell into different branches and tried to understand if they were actively or passively participating in that branch of 'dressers.' Not surprising to my older self, a large number of people conformed to the taxonomic dress code due to external factors rather than internal ones. I suspect the adage 'you can't read/judge a book by its cover' is an expression that suggests a lot of other people found the same things my young self did.

As a result I try very hard to not "see" (and by that I mean color my perception) of someone by what they are wearing or how they present themselves. But I also recognize how difficult that is.

I vividly recall, in highschool in Los Angeles, right after 9/11, the leader of the class had to announce that our only Sikh student there was in fact Sikh, not Muslim, so please stop harassing him.

Did the class leader's announcement really leave the implication that the harassment should continue were he in fact Muslim?

I remember John McCain being praised in the 2008 election campaign for speaking to a member of his audience who echoed the oft-repeated "Obama is a Muslim" claim, saying that "No ma'am, he's not, he's a good man". Nothing else.

Baby steps are better than no steps, but still, it does leave a sour taste.

That's not true and you are not being fair to McCain.

She said she didn't trust him and he's an Arab. He took the mic from her and said no mam, he's a good man. He didn't even address the Arab comment because he had already addressed it previously.

I see nothing negative either intentional or unintentional about his responses.

We have enough bad in this world. We need to give credit where credit is due and not invent thinks.


Thanks for pulling up the link, but it doesn't show him addressing it earlier as you said. I did mis-remember however; the lady said "He's an Arab" and not "He's a Muslim". Still, his response was "He's a decent family man and citizen that I have disagreements with".

Look, I know McCain is nothing like the Republicans that routinely use racial dogwhistling as a campaign strategy. But in this instance, he's still employing the right wing version of political correctness that's necessary to employ when talking to supporters that swallow Fox News/Rush Limbaugh views. He can say to his audience that Obama isn't an Arab. He just can't say that even if he were an Arab, it shouldn't be a problem in the United States of America.

Allow me to post a link where Republican former Sec of State Colin Powell comments on the issue: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dYELqbZAQ4M

Your point is correct. Thanks for saying it at least.

What is a leader of the class?

>I remind myself that it is nothing but a survival instinct and even I was doing this in one way or another.

Astute observation. I mean we all react differently to a cat versus a snake, based on prior experiences or social conditioning. The average person out there with average intelligence ( nothing to be proud of) can evaluate only in black and white and not in shades of grey. Let's cut some slack (but not too much) for these mentally challenged people.

Most of the societal or political problems of the world are a medical problem: how do you treat IQ deficiency. You solve that, you revolutionize politics, ethics, demographics, etc.

It would be interesting if a new class of drugs was developed that had some of the effects people seek, so they maintained their allure to those who find them alluring, but also amplified impulse control instead of diminishing it. No doubt non-users would complain about users getting a benefit they didn't earn (e.g. the prodigal son's brother), and there are no doubt other consequences I haven't thought of.

Agreed. (At a personal level I have become a hermit of sorts, seeking out the above average people and choosing to deal with the select few)

Allah's son? Did they say that?

In one case, yes, exactly that.

I have no idea what kind of Muslim they claim to be but that is just out there.

if you don't mind, did you cut your beard?


Not surprising: bigots who go out of their way to insult random strangers probably isn't a demographic well acquainted with introspection or humility.

You're not wrong, but I've had to force myself out of this kind of negative thinking and instead try to approach someone like that from a place of genuine compassion and honesty.

I've been called a "dumbass liberal", "commie", "socialist" and other names at work because the majority of the employees are die-hard Trump fans and/or religious fundamentalists and I made the mistake of expressing compassion for the immigrants in cages when it was big in the news. I've found that explaining my point of view, that as one who follows the teachings of Christ (I'm not overly religious but it's a discipline of love towards all other people and I'm down with that, plus it keeps my religious family happy), I can't in good conscience find pleasure in the suffering of others, seemed to make some of them stop and think about their own prejudices and biases.

I doubt I've actually won anyone over (I tend to just keep my mouth shut about current events these days), but I've definitely seen an improvement in how I'm treated since then. Hopefully expressing positive feelings instead of reacting to negativity with more negativity will continue to improve my relationships with coworkers.

On either side of the spectrum, many people associate with a particular brand of politics as part of their identity. Political strategists are smart, and quite literally divvy up these groups and build a coalition in a process called “tent building”.

Now, I’ve met and talked with plenty of folk who confuse their identity with their political party. Definitely happens on both sides - as I saw growing up in Oklahoma, and now see in the Bay Area.

The point is, people feel (not wrongfully) uncomfortable when their identity is “threatened” by people who represent themselves with a brand of politics that is oppositional to the one that markets to them.

Now I’ve found that when you share your beliefs, and they aren’t founded on identity politics, then it can ease up the feelings of threat and opposition you’re sure to face.

Alternatively, don’t talk about politics - the simpler method. Having always been a bit of a political outsider, I learned early on that proselytizing others is both counterproductive and alienating.

> I’ve met and talked with plenty of folk who confuse their identity with their political party.

What do you mean by "confuse"? What if their political party/orientation is an important part of their identity?

It can be, but it kind of should be the other way around. Your identity and your values should inform what political party you should belong to. Your political party shouldn't inform your identity.

There should be things you disagree with your party about.

I mean, being a proud Democrat or Republican doesn't mean you agree with your party in 100% of issues.

It very much can be, you're right, but I think grandparent is taking it for granted (and I agree that it should be) that this is a smallish, petty identity, unworthy of containing a human soul.

That seems awfully judgy. If you think a political party is unworthy of contributing to one's identity, I shudder to think what you'd say about me identifying as a Starcraft player.

I'm a Starcraft player too. But I am not just a Starcraft player, and neither are you.

Then they should rethink their priorities. Ideals are far more important than party affiliation.

Ideas are cheap. Execution is hard. It's as true in politics as it is in startups.

Parties aren't the only way to contribute to 'execution', of course, but they're one of the most obvious.

> The point is, people feel (not wrongfully) uncomfortable when their identity is “threatened” by people who represent themselves with a brand of politics that is oppositional to the one that markets to them.

Do you have specific examples?

Sure. Go to a Ducks Unlimited banquet and tell folks you’re a Democrat and they may contextualize gun control as your agenda. Tell your Bay Area colleagues you’re a Republican and you’ll be contextualized as close minded.

Tell people you’re unaffiliated and they’ll often see you as an antagonist to their pet causes. Don’t tell people anything, and they usually won’t put up a guard.

> Sure. Go to a Ducks Unlimited banquet and tell folks you’re a Democrat and they may contextualize gun control as your agenda. Tell your Bay Area colleagues you’re a Republican and you’ll be contextualized as close minded.

That's just... assuming you more-or-less support the planks/stances/actions of party you've just told them you consider yourself affiliated with. Where's the identity part come in?

Many people don't support 100% of their party's policies - they just agree with them on the 2 or 3 things that are really important to them. This is a normal state of affairs in a two-party system.

For example, maybe I really like my party's stance on abortion and energy policy; I'm indifferent to their stances on farm subsidies, gun control, and immigration; and I feel their stances on trans rights and corruption could be improved a fair bit.

That would mean, when I meet someone from a different party, we could actually agree on a great many issues.

No no, those are hypothetical. What's happened to you?

You don’t get to arbitrate what has and has not happened to me. What sort of oddball remark was this?

Funny story about that banquet though. A guy at my table paid a few hundred dollars in a silent auction thinking that he was bidding on a gun. He was actually bidding on a lottery ticket for a gun. His wife was unhappy with his mistake. He did win a duck call alongside the lottery ticket IIRC. This was in NW Arkansas and was a part of a crawfish boil. Definitely not the Bay Area.

You're right. I apologize.

An auction for a lottery ticket to win a gun. Are you sure there wasn't a raffle involved somewhere? :^)

A raffle for a rifle?

Better keep the riffraff out.

I'm fascinated how people don't seem to be receptive to your promotion of positivity (by how you've been downvoted)

IMO, your outlook is exactly what we need more of in the world.

In a related vein to you I don't get any satisfaction out of hating others. Especially knowing how easy it is for the human psyche to latch onto those behaviors (othering, outgroup, tribalism, etc.)

> I'm fascinated how people don't seem to be receptive to your promotion of positivity (by how you've been downvoted)

I think some of it is down to how as a species we are tribal by nature, and we have to work hard to get past that and start seeing one another as companions by default, rather than adversaries. There's a time and place for healthy competition and sportsmanship, but issues like politics, religion, and race should not be competitive at all (edit to say I get that politics is a competition/popularity contest, rather I mean that one should be able to support an ideal or a specific candidate without being seen as "the enemy").

A nice ritual (at least pre-covid) for the times and places for healthy competition and sportsmanship is to shake hands before and after, to put parentheses around that competition.

> I've found that explaining my point of view, that as one who follows the teachings of Christ (I'm not overly religious but it's a discipline of love towards all other people and I'm down with that, plus it keeps my religious family happy), I can't in good conscience find pleasure in the suffering of others, seemed to make some of them stop and think about their own prejudices and biases.

How do you think this would have gone if you hadn't claimed a religious exception? So rather if you simply said that you couldn't find pleasure in the suffering of others, but with no references to Christ?

I don't see it as a religious exception, rather the opposite: Because of my existing convictions, I find Christ's teachings about loving one another and helping others to be compatible with my views.

I get what you mean though, and I wonder too if it would have made any difference good or bad. I think with some folks, maybe it would.

Similar here, I was rockin' a pretty serious beard while working for a company that maintained POS equipment in independent grocery stores. Many of our clients were smaller ethnic shops, mostly Arab of various derivations.

There were a few where, the first time I walked in (moments after calling to say I'd arrived), the staff greeted me in a friendly "hello brother" sort of way, once in exactly those words. I didn't see any point in arguing, but when prayer time rolled around and I said I'd keep working, the shock was delicious. All good-natured, just unexpected all around.

I had to ditch the beard recently to get a good seal with a respirator, but it'll be back someday.

> greeted me in a friendly "hello brother"

Wouldn’t it be amazing if we all greeted each other like this regardless of color, creed, nation, etc? I think I’ll just start doing this - “hello brother!” “Hello sister”

Word. I've been trying to do similar in my life and when I do make the effort to raise myself to the same level as those I am greeting the interaction is so much more fulfilling for us both.

No, it would not be good. There is a difference between brother, best friend, friend, buddy, etc. You can be friendly to people without diminishing what those words actually mean. Not everything has to be "awesome", some things are just great, good or even okay. And that is literally okay.

It's all fun and games until someone is incredibly offended because she actually identifies as a genderfluid demisexual wolf in a human body and you just referred to her as "sister"

I like using buddy or ma'am. Everyone can be my buddy until they do some action that proves otherwise.

Non native. Does ma'am have the same ring as "buddy"? It always sounded somehow deferential to me

No, ma’am is the female equivalent of sir. They’re formal terms, not familiar like “buddy”

This is my go to as well.

Roman emperor Domitian expelled the Stoic philosophers from Italy. Some of them just shaved their beards so they could pass as 'normal' and stay.

Is it more stoic to keep the beard and leave, or shave the beard and stay.

With access to shaving technology, a beard is something you can control. I don't think a beard is absolutely mandatory to be stoic, is it?

depends. is the beard or Italy the thing that makes you more happy.

Ah, those trouble making Stoic Philosophers (I capitalize this because my wife and I are ardent followers - a sane and practical philosophy for a crazy world).

Well, actually, quite the trouble makers. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stoic_Opposition

It's actually really cool in a weird way in that it's measurably consistent. I live somewhere in the west and have skin of the moderately darker variety and the amount of general street racism I face is directly correlated with the length of my beard.

Ugly and Horrible.

People will find any excuse to be cunts to each other and feel entitled to do so.

Sometimes it feels like nobody is following the cardinal rule: be excellent to each other.

Could we maybe choose less sexist insults in the thread on acceptance?

Don’t be a dick.

Sure, but everybody has an asshole.

Could we maybe choose less ableist insults in the thread on acceptance?


Notably; this kind of pedantry is problematic, nobody thinks of gender when genitalia is used as an insult. Obviously insults are designed to offend; but adding additional meaning and then attacking the faux meaning is not meaningful.

This sort of behaviour fuels anti-liberal rhetoric; as it does nothing to prevent actual sexism it’s just people attacking a straw man at the expense of well meaning people who used some word of the month which has been deemed “troublesome”.

If I had led with “dick” as the insult I’m fairly certain it wouldn’t have been called out in such a way.

False arguments serve only to “beat” other people so you may feel superior for a moment, but they push others to conservatism for being attacked for innocuous commentary.

This is a problem because the conservatives are very effectively using the snobbery of some on the “left” to win people over and putting back liberal causes by decades in some cases. Leading to things like Trump - and the senate being stacked with republicans.

Let’s go after actual issues.

Maybe the poster is Australian.

I've heard that Jedi is an official response in Oz, but is there anywhere one can claim "Bill & Ted-ism" as a religion?

Being excellent to others, in my book, means giving people the benefit of the doubt and not presuming that they will find any excuse to be entitled cunts to others.

In my experience, most people are not like that. There are, of course, self-righteous jerks everywhere, but in every society I find them to be a small minority.

It’s true. Occasionally I’ll dress like people from other parts of the country) think Texas, or what have you, or in Texas dress like a surfer). People look at you funny. People think all kinds of things. Like passive aggressive things: look you up and down, block your way, etc. on the positive side sometimes you get complements.

I've not had the same or similar experiences, I am a pale ginger with a big ginger beard, but I have been treated like and told that I look like a homeless man by strangers, friends, and even family. I've had a (medium or large) beard since 2006, I shaved it completely off exactly once in all of that time, in 2008. It was short for my wedding but I brought the length right back. I like it, I hate that I used to make excuses for it.

> I think it must be a lot easier to be a weird misfit now than it was in 1935.

This is probably true in a general sense but people still suck as much in 2020 as they did in 1935, which is evidenced by current events and this very comment thread. The big difference being that there's so many more people today than there were then. Maybe that indicates that we've made some progress but I'm less hopeful.

It's ridiculous. Living in the UK I've had several people talk about Muslims and immigrants and how they change culture and take jobs... One even said "you're alright mate"...

Are you serious? I don't understand how people can think this way. If I and other foreign coworkers were alright, why are others bad? Where are they?

Terrible media and politicians with their own agendas pushing trash down people's eyes and ears, and they turn on some other group, it's fking sad.

I’m sure some learned person here can give us the right nomenclature, but it’s the difference between “they” and aa single individual. It’s easy to be convinced that some group is the problem, it’s very different when you are confronted with a single individual and suddenly realize that groups are seldom as homogeneous as they appear.

Does this happen in the east as well?

I feel this is common in the west, because people externalize internal conflicts, and they have to project their "righteousness" and "judgement" to justify their existence, as there is nothing left in ourselves besides atoms.

Hell ya me too, I like to ride that line between looking tidy and insane

I would suspect it's location-based.

In Oakland or San Francisco you wouldn't get a passing glance. Even if you upped your tattoo game.

Only in NYC...

I have my doubts that being a weirdo is actually that much easier today, and I see that others have made the same point. However, the kinds of things that qualify as weird have definitely shifted. Wanna be gay? Sure, no problem (in most cities in most parts of the western world). Want to avoid sending your kids to formal schooling, sell things out of the back of your truck, or avoid working a full-time job? Expect to get a lot of hassle both from society and from the state.

As someone who was a bit of a weird kid, I definitely think it's easier to be a weirdo today. The main reason being: I can find my fellow weirdos.

When I was at school and my peers made fun of me for my even slightly esoteric interests I felt alone. I didn't know anyone else who liked the same things that I did; or at least not to the same, occasionally obsessive, degree. It was hard.

Now that the internet exists and is popular: I can find my people. There's probably a forum or subreddit for pretty much any niche I could care to infatuate myself with, and there's creators on YouTube making fantastically long and detailed videos on the minutiae of every subject under the sun.

I don't feel alone any more :)

I feel like I need to respond to this and say the Internet isn’t enough for all children. It wasn’t for me.

I grew up having the Internet since I was around 8-9. (I was born in 1990) I was able to find communities online for things I was interested in. But it didn’t make me any less “weird” in person. While it’s nice to find people online, it’s really not enough. Especially as a kid since you can’t really interact with everyone since many times they’re much older than you.

If you’re still going to school and get bullied for being weird, have no friends because weird, and so forth... then the Internet is nice but it’s not really a replacement for real life acceptance. Most kids need friends and acceptance in real life. You can’t get by on the Internet alone.

a lot of people who haven't done fully remote work are extroverts who are currently cheering the move to fully distributed work throughout the developed world are gonna start begging to go back to an office in about 3-12 months when the crushing loneliness kicks in. (tho I'd love to be proven wrong and see alternatives like affordable coworking spaces pop up - but an office is like a free coworking space).

Yes, it's much easier to be weird but not feel bad about it when there is a community of like minded people. Weird is just different from the norm. I've always known that the norm is mediocre anyway

Are you still weird if you find a community where you are normal?

No you're not. But you all know you're weird to the outside world and not care much about it, because you belong - a necessary human need is fulfilled

To the world at large, I guess so. Within the community, I guess not.

Weirdness depends on context.

Sadly while this is true for weirdos, it's also true for fascists, racists, conspiracy theorists etc.

Yes, but I also think there's a lot of social pressure being put on these groups to get with the program. Reddit does eventually kick out extremists. Twitter spends a lot of time pointing them out, etc.

I've seen people advocating for banning "hate speech", but I think that's a slippery slope (who defines hate speech? would anything broadly defined as anti-feminist be banned?). Such laws are bound to be abused to silence people some groups politically disagree with. Personally, I think it's better that hateful ideologies are somewhere on the clearnet where we can see them, and sometimes talk some sense into them, rather than hidden in the dark web. Some of these people will grow out of it and come around.

It's not actually a slippery slope, but more so that it will inevitably lead to false positives. It's a bit annoying when people misconstrue what hate speech is: inciting extreme hate or encouraging violence. Criticism is definitely allowed. I also agree it's somewhat better to have public discourse, but being fundamentally supporting free speech even when it leads to hate crimes, is a bit myopic.

I'd respond that dismissing free speech is also dangerous, as it has preceded multiple genocides. IMO, right now we live in a society where we neither have free speech nor the ability to have healthy, open debates needed to defuse dangerous ideas. In the guise of protecting the weak, we're advancing increasingly authoritarian measures. Coming from both the left and the right. See airport security, state surveillance, anti child trafficking laws used to shut down legit websites... And possibly soon anti hate speech laws which will most definitely, inevitably be abused. This isn't a just left wing vs right wing issue. Your rights are being eroded before your eyes.

I live in Canada, where we have hate speech laws, and I don't live in the States. My perspective has been that these hate speech laws do not infringe on my rights. I think you might be right in that the potential for abuse is high in the US, I just don't see any evidence of that being the case here (yet).

I genuinely hope you're right and that such laws won't get in the way of useful dialogue. Though I will point out that Canada doesn't have as much ability as the US to censor internet communications. That limits their ability to abuse such laws.

Oh for sure. I was made fun for liking hiphop in the 80s (white town in the middle of nowhere). And that wasn't even that weird but in that place it was.

If you don't fit in in school, you still have to go. Adults get to decide for themselves and can find their niche even before the internet.

Personally, as a confirmed weirdo, I think it's way easier, at least in America. A few obvious factors:

1. Urbanization. Small towns are suffocating. In cities, people are much less in each other's business. Urbanization has been on an upward march since the country's founding. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Urbanization_in_the_United_Sta...),_OWID.svg

2. Education. The more people know, the more than can accept. Education has been steadily on the rise for decades: https://nces.ed.gov/pubs93/93442.pdf

3. Travel. The more you've seen that other places are different, the easier it is to accept difference at home. As recently as 1989, 3% of Americans had passports. Now it's 42%. https://www.forbes.com/sites/niallmccarthy/2018/01/11/the-sh...

4. The decline of patriarchy. For most of American history, women were pretty close to property of men. The main acceptable role was wife, with things like schoolteacher possibly being ok. Even in the 1970s, less than 10% of medicine and law degrees went to women. Only this century did it reach parity: https://www.theatlantic.com/sexes/archive/2012/12/more-women...

5. The decline of racism. America's still hella racist, of course. But talk to racial minorities about exactly where they'd be ok setting the dial on the time machine.

6. The decline in policing of sex and gender. This is very recent, and still ongoing. People are getting to be who they are in ways that were pretty much universally condemned even a few decades ago.

7. The Internet. There are at least three big effects here. One is that people now have as much culture as they care to absorb. Global news? Indie films? Personal essays? We're awash in it. Another is the lack of gatekeepers. On Twitter, I am hearing voices that I didn't even know existed 25 years ago. And third, as others said, it is letting weirdos find their people.

If somebody gives me a time machine, I'm only setting that dial forward.

There are a few BIG differences.

* Today you can be smart and popular. There will always be smart kids that get picked on, but there used to be pure, outright hostility toward the smart kids as recently as thirty years ago. This is especially true for women. My grandmother never told us she was valedictorian until we found her diploma cleaning out her house, women just couldn't talk about their intelligence. Even when I went to high school I remember a girl who would lie about her test scores (she would say she did worse than she did so she could fit in with the other girls).

* Today you can be openly gay. You will take shit for it, but at least you are out. People used to give you shit for it and you had to keep yourself in the closet or else. Situation is still shitty, but improved from a low bar.

* Weirdness can be cool now. Showing an interest in anything other than the mainstream interests used to result in terrible teasing.

Weirdness is still not cool. The goalposts just shifted.

It just so happens that right now what's cool is a charicature of actual weird people in the past. See girls claiming to be 'quirky' or 10 years ago 'random'. Also see people being self proclaimed 'nerds' because they like to read a lot.

It's basically there as an illusion of depth and mystery.

Actual weird people like that dude who makes low production quality lightsaber fight videos in his garden (can't remember his name) are still considered weird. Though I think the word they use these days is 'cringe'. Alternatively what people will do is put these super weird people on a pedestal in conversation while not actually respecting them or wanting to be directly associated with them.

I'm not saying we've made no progress but it's a lot less than it appears on the surface.

> that dude who makes low production quality lightsaber fight videos in his garden (can't remember his name)

His online handle is Airsoftfatty, and his story is actually kinda tragic. iDubbz visited him and made a "documentary" of sorts about him, it's a fascinating watch [1].

[1] Full Force: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HfwPL-bd_mk

Exactly, it's counter-signaling. It would be analogous to conclude that being poor is cool now because of torn up jeans being in fashion or hipster minimalism being cool.

As long as you are surely not mistaken for a real weirdo or a poor person, you can play around with the superficialities.

Underrated comment, you're the only one in this thread that gets it.

> Weirdness can be cool now. Showing an interest in anything other than the mainstream interests used to result in terrible teasing.

Weirdness almost by definition can't be cool. Or at least not actual weirdness. In the 50's a leather jacket and a motorbike made you 'weird' to the old folks, but incredibly cool to teenagers. Same goes nowadays, only the details differ.

Just a random example: I personally consider obsession with anime weird, but kind of cool at the same time. Are you sure that you cannot name anything you would consider both weird and cool?

Do you still think it kind of cool when there's people out there that take their anime body pillow or sex doll out in public and proclaim they are a real person / their girlfriend? That crosses a line of weird in my head.

I think from a societal point of view there are patterns that are considered weird and patterns that are acceptable. There is of course a gray area, but it's not as wide as we might think (at least not in my experience).

If you consider an obsession with anime kind of cool then you probably don't consider it weird, at least not in the sense the concept is presented in the original article.

Let's assume that you're genuinely interested in having a conversation, not just shifting the definition to fit your argument, and I will give it another go: Most subcultures regardless of the generation (e.g. punk, metal, emo) use "weirdness" to distinguish themselves (with music, fashion, looks) in order to distance themselves from the mainstream and are often considered cool as a result of that.

Ok, my definition of "weird" is: something that will get you marginalized under the prevailing norms of the society you live in. Something that is unusual, but doesn't get you marginalized, might be cool, but not weird.

Something that doesn't get you marginalized simply isn't weird.

In my experience, people who adopt a subculture do so partly to cope with being excluded from the mainstream. This is not always the case, of course, but I do think it's common.

The members of the subculture may be weird in my sense of the word (i.e. for the general population), but they won't be weird within their respective subculture. Within the subculture they will probably just be cool.

Cool is what cool people does.

What is the leather jacket of today's teenagers? I thought about it for a moment, but nothing comes to my mind.

I wasn't alive back then, so this might just be a product of the movies I've watched, but I get the impression that the "leather jacket" was almost universally considered cool by the youth of that era (whether or not they were willing to risk presenting that "deviant" image themselves). compared to that time (or at least my impression of it), culture is much more fragmented today. I don't think anything exists that is universally considered cool by today's youth. although being in my late twenties, I am rapidly approaching the point where I don't know what's "cool" anyway.

I think nihilistic 10 levels of irony stuff is pretty much what's mainstream-cool today, but I say that as someone also around 30. Seems the big diversity causes people to hedge their bets and never stand behind something with conviction, rather to ironize away any possible associations.

Maybe slightly younger than teenagers, but brightly colored neon hair (like the youtubers), flashy Minecraft merchandise, and things like Fortnite dances and dabbing.

Of course, me and my girlfriend are still well enough in touch with those things (also thanks to social media) that we can annoy our son by flossing and dabbing, :p.

Also, being a literal nazi.

I'm not in touch with teenage culture anymore, but things like Billie Eilish and TikTok come to mind.

Ok that's classic "No True Scotsman" right there.

I get where you are coming from, but I believe the above poster is suggesting that the colloquial _definitions_ of “weird” and “cool”* make them antonyms. That is, “cool” kind of means “conforming to the current zeitgeist” where “weird” invokes connotations of “not fitting in”. When understood in this way it makes being both “weird” and “cool” a bit oxymoronic.

Now of course there is spectrum, and I agree with the GP that a big part of this moment is “being yourself” so eccentricity and uniqueness _are_ factors that can make somebody “cool”, but with that the bar for truly being “weird” has also shifted.

To be clear, I’m not value-judging anything here. Back in high school I definitely rode the line between “cool” and “weird” myself! Was called “weird” to my face semi-often. Looking back I can see that I was fortunate to be a weird kid that was both athletic and rather good looking, so I was still allowed to hang out with the “cool” kids and date “popular” girls.

* the dictionary defines neither in the terms we are using here

Weirdness, in the context of the original article, is something that leads to ostracism. Something considered cool does not lead to ostracism. It can be _different_ and cool, but it cannot, by definition, be weird in the sense the blog post describes. If beards or interracial marriage had simply been considered different but cool, the characters described wouldn't have had to invent coping strategies.

Good point!

^ this :D

"Scotsman" is absolute. One either is, or is not, a Scotsman, and either always was and forever will be, or never was and never will be. (I know this isn't true with regard to modern Scottish citizenship, but in the context of the saying "Scotsmanness" is an immutable characteristic).

Weirdness isn't like this. What was once weird now isn't, though we can't be sure it will stay that way. Conversely, what was once normal is now weird, though this might change too. This process will continue.

GP is saying that if something is widely accepted then it can't really be described as weird in the present moment. This fits the examples given in the thread, of how it _used to be_ weird to have certain characteristics, and now it isn't.

This might mean that we haven't actually become more tolerant of weirdness per se, we've just changed the definition of what counts as weird, and are just as judgemental towards 2020-era weirdness as the previous generations were toward 1990-weirdness or 1960-weirdness.

Incidentally I do think we're a bit more tolerant of weirdness now, just not as much as we think we are.

Being completely tolerant to weirdness would mean, to my mind, to essentially not think in terms of weird/mainstream/cool anymore.

No it isn't. A "No True Scotsman" involves retreating to a weaker version of the statement upon being challenged. This is just a weak statement.

How so?

# Weirdness almost by definition can't be cool. Or at least not actual weirdness.

"Actual weirdness" being refined to mean the set the author chose, instead of an independent rule. Circular reasoning, designed to compel the (weak) conclusion you'd been arguing toward.

The independent rule is: weird is something that gets you marginalized in the society you live in, without being illegal/detrimental/an infringement on others' rights.

Being unusual is not the same as being weird. Being unusual can in certain circumstances make you "cool".

There is no circularity, and you have yet to make a pertinent counter-argument.

Hey, I didn't qualify it as 'actual weirdness'. That was somebody else. There's the nub of it.

Try being a kid raised only on classical music. Trust me, it was anything but cool or accepted (even by teachers). I was terrified about not knowing popular music - we even used to have a weekly time in class where a student talked about their favorite band. I didn't know any (and had to find out what were the cool bands to avoid being a complete social outcast).

Yeah, that's something I had anxiety with growing up in middle school and high school. The way I solved it was to download a Top 100 mp3 collection, then I branched out to different music tastes from there.

But you have to keep in mind that a LOT of people still have to mask in order to fit in; change their accents, what they wear, etc. You could consider them social contracts, like don't wear a three-piece suit to a 24-hour hackathon, but they can also be oppressive.

You mention that you can be openly gay today, but this is not true; SOME areas MAY be safe, but in others you may get sucker punched or worse.

Black parents have to tell their kids to change how they speak in order to fit in, to have a better chance at getting a job.

And kids will still get bullied for being outliers, it's just that what you get bullied for and how that expresses itself has changed; "nerdy" subjects like gaming have become more accepted, so the outliers now are those that don't like Fortnite. And the bullying is moving to the internet.

That is a different debate entirely. To what degree people need to alter behavior to "fit in" varies widely.

To be an executive in corporate America, you need to learn corporate speak and use it, for example. No one running a Fortune 500 company speaks like they are from the Ozarks.

Society needs some conformity to function, there will never be a utopia where this doesn't happen.

> Today you can be smart and popular. There will always be smart kids that get picked on, but there used to be pure, outright hostility toward the smart kids as recently as thirty years ago.

30 years ago, I was in middle school. Never saw this. I was very smart and certainly never received any hostility because of it. I never saw any of my fellow "smart kids" receive any either. I know it's only anecdotal but the quote doesn't even have anecdotal support. It's just a baseless claim.

>Showing an interest in anything other than the mainstream interests used to result in terrible teasing.

As a Gen-Xer, I disagree.

probably a case of YMMV depending on your area, school, etc. I'm a bit younger than you (millennial), and I don't remember any outright hostility towards the smart kids. in general, being smart and getting good grades was simply orthogonal to what really mattered. you had to be competent in at least one sport to get any respect. my interest in computers was specifically uncool however, and it placed me below even the theater kids in the social hierarchy.

I agree. Being different isn't any easier or harder. We've just moved some things from the "socially accepted weird" list to the "socially unacceptable weird" list and vice versa.

(yes I know my comment is a massive generalization)

What do you think it means to become nicer to weirdos, other than whatever counted as weird becoming more socially acceptable?

Not having laws against being weird, not reaching to therapy for weirdness, not considering weirdness pathological, not assigning moral values to being weird or not weird.

Moving "who is weird" around doesn't do anything. If you keep me locked up in your basement and torture me and, by some luck, I overpower you and in turn lock you up and torture you, there isn't really any less locking-up-and-torturing, it's just that somebody else is receiving it.

> Not having laws against being weird

Well, being gay is legally much more accepted now. Does that count as progress? Or does it not count, because most people don't consider being gay "weird" anymore, as it's become more acceptable?

That's what I'm saying: whether you still call being gay "weird" and we've become more accepting, or it's just more accepted because it's no longer considered weird, that's still the same progress.

It does for gay people, absolutely. Much like it would be progress for me to be released from your cellar. But if we just replace me with you or somebody else, there's still somebody going to be locked in the cellar.

At the margins (the actual margins, not the "I'm marginalized mimimi") of society where the weird people are. And I don't think those margins are getting smaller, or the people inhabiting them are treated better. It's just different people that are the outsiders now, and being gay doesn't necessarily put you there (depends on your location, though).

Hmm, I'm not so sure, though honestly I have zero clue how one would objectively check for tolerance of weirdness in general.

RMS was the only one punished for the Jeffrey Epstein scandal at MIT. He never even went on any of those trips! He was just weird, and a mob formed to shame him for it.

All the people with good social skills, who went to the Epstein island? Totally fine, no consequences.

The people with good social skills got (and are still getting) plenty of outrage directed at them - the problem is they also had people defending them on the basis of having good social skills. It's ridiculous that many, many people believe that someone being nice to them means they cannot be awful to others.

None of them got fired, though.

Revealed preference is a mother.

That's revealed preference of their employers.

What this shows us is not that being weird gets you fired, but that being outwardly "normal" and "nice" saves you from being fired when you go to private rape islands. Try fixing that one.

Also revealed preference of the angry mob!

I saw zero medium posts saying "hey, forget about RMS's posts, let's go get mad at the people who actually did this stuff". I'm sure they existed, but in general the mob wanted a 'creepy' scapegoat and they got one.

Why forget about RMS's posts? You know people can be angry about multiple people at once. And many people will be angry at people in their own communities more than others - so if you're following a bunch of tech folk, yes, they're going to focus on the tech folk. And if you follow a bunch of British people with an interest in the royalty, they're going to focus on Prince Andrew and largely ignore RMS - which many did.

> RMS was the only one punished for the Jeffrey Epstein scandal at MIT.

It was way too little too late but Joi Ito, Peter Cohen and Seth Lloyd got punished. The MIT Media Lab's reputation was tarnished forever from this. Saying RMS was the only one is disingenuous.

> banged underage girls?

What a vile way to describe the rape of children.

Edited. But, really, you're proving my point here with who you get outraged at. I didn't go on that island either.

People can be outraged at more than one person at a time.

Or for more than one reason.

This is circular reasoning.

"We're not any nicer to weirdos. How do I know? Well, because the subset of people we're still not nice to, we're not nice to!"

Bare minimum, there's always going to be some demographic ostracized by society, even if that demographic is only, like, murderous cannibals.

Only looking at whichever demographics are currently treated poorly to evaluate how society treats the people who it treats poorly means you've fixed the "niceness to weirdos" quotient in place by definition.

... yes? Of course I look at the subset of people who are today counted as weirdos. How else would one evaluate the social treatment of weirdos?

If you're going to argue a change, I think that you need to show that either (1) the total number of people considered "weirdos" has changed, or (2) weirdos are no longer treated as poorly. I find (2) very implausible (and notice that in the linked article, the people in question are responding to very mild forms of social disapproval), and I don't think that (1) really holds up, but I'm willing to hear an argument.

I find 2) to be a very real possibility - first off in the To Kill A Mockingbird not sure how mild his social ostracism, furthermore what would his punishment for being a weirdo have been if he hadn't hit on the convenient cover of being a drunk (and as I recall wasn't he descended from a rich family?)

As far as 1) the example of Doc's two weird bits seem pretty benign. This is the argument that would well it seems pretty benign to us but perhaps there are things that are weird to us but that back then would have seemed benign.

As a general thing anything I can think of that would be considered weird enough nowadays to get you kicked out of a Diner would have been considered weird enough decades back to get you kicked out, if not the police called on you.

If your theory is that there were things considered benign in the past that would get you thrown out of a Diner today you should show what those are, the nearest I can think of is having the trophy head of an African Elephant with you, but I bet you wouldn't get thrown out of almost anywhere for that unless it was just too big to have in the place. Maybe try Bengal Tiger, wouldn't be bad.

Dressed up as a member of the KKK would hopefully get you kicked out of a lot of places today, but I'm not sure if it wouldn't have got you kicked out in 1935. At any rate I'm not sure if it would have been considered benign actually, despite membership's popularity during that time.

> ... yes? Of course I look at the subset of people who are today counted as weirdos. How else would one evaluate the social treatment of weirdos?

Using the same reasoning, one could say, "treatment of X group of weirdos hasn't gotten any better because society treats weirdos better; it's just that X has become somewhat more socially acceptable". For example, you could apply this reasoning to, say, furries. Probably more accepted now than 20 or 30 years ago, but still considered weird.

If that's the model, then it's impossible for society to become more accepting of weirdos in general, because each time they become more accepting of some particular group, you just attribute the change to "social acceptability" of that group, rather than niceness to weirdos more generally. With the end game being, "sure, everyone is nice to everyone now, but it's not because we became nicer to weirdos, but because now everything is socially acceptable and nothing is considered weird."

It's a useless way of measuring things because it makes progress literally impossible by definition.

I would qualify murderous cannibals as dangerous criminals, not weirdos. Weirdos are people who aren't doing anything wrong, but who are ostracized for not conforming to arbitrary social norms.

I’d imagine most cannibals who ever lived were not breaking the law at all. This may hold true even today. It reminds me of a joke, “why do people refer to me as a cannibal? I think it’s my woodwork that defines me. Why not call me a woodworker?”

> why do people refer to me as a cannibal? I think it’s my woodwork that defines me. Why not call me a woodworker?

The long form of this I've heard goes through about three extensive accomplishments or deeds, as:

"You see the roofs on all those houses? I thatched every one of them. But do they call me Johnny the Thatcher? No."

And on for brick-layer, et c.

Then ends on:

"But you fuck one sheep..."

Hah, frankly a real joke compared to mine.

I don't know enough anthropology to debate that, but my feeling is that even in societies where cannibalism was allowed there were clear rules around it. I expect that you wouldn't just be able to kill and eat people randomly.

Yes, this is absolutely true, I was just lightly teasing the use of “criminal” as a moral thing.

The murderous part implies they are criminals. :)

For societies that viewed this as a crime, anyway. For instance, many don’t consider military engagements to be murder but others do, and regardless whether or not you might consider it a crime depends deeply on your geopolitical beliefs.

Anyway, there are even cultures (now extinct I think) that eat their own dead as a form of mourning. Ritualistic cannibalism is a whole thing that is not criminal and it’s been found on every continent where humans naturally live. Many societies don’t even have states to define or enforce crimes.

So yea, I think most cannibals were probably not criminals.

> Anyway, there are even cultures (now extinct I think) that eat their own dead as a form of mourning.

Yes, but you wouldn't call those people murderous cannibals, would you? Murderous implies that you murdered someone. Now, true, one man's liberator is another man's murderer, but someone who has not killed anyone can't be called murderous any way you stretch it, even if they are a cannibal.

So, even if you are right that most cannibals were not criminals, I think it's safe to say, as GP did, that murderous cannibals are criminals.

I believe it was the gentleman calling them “murderous criminals” that introduced this concept; obviously I would not consider a ritualistic cannibal to imply being a murderer and just don’t accept the “murderous” label.

It's the GP that introduced the concept:

> Bare minimum, there's always going to be some demographic ostracized by society, even if that demographic is only, like, murderous cannibals.

I said:

> I would qualify murderous cannibals as dangerous criminals, not weirdos

Nobody used the collocation "murderous criminals" - it sounds silly and would be more or less a tautology.

Killing may or may not be criminal but murder is by definition.

Yeah, I was just trying to use an extreme example.

> Weirdos are people who aren't doing anything wrong

That's the thing, though: what is "wrong" is very different society to society. Sometimes it includes decisions that don't directly hurt anyone, but can hurt them indirectly (e.g. choosing not to be vaccinated).

Well being a cannibal is a self limiting demographic, I mean you peer group is bound to shrink. It has to be a pretty lonely.

Historically most groups that have practiced cannibalism over long periods didn't use it as their exclusive source of sustenance...

Would it be a social taboo to eat a fellow cannibal since by definition it would reduce to size of the ingroup?

A society which truly integrated their murderous cannibals would reserve bbq spots in the park for them. But no, they just have to put up with the cold shoulder.

Would you rather we get cold feet or that they have to put up with the cold shoulder?

Well, that's the point. Give them a grill and the shoulder won't be cold any more.

>Wanna be gay? Sure, no problem (in most cities in most parts of the western world)

It's better than it was, but I wouldn't go so far as to say "no problem".

Really depends on where you are, and who you interact with.

Anecdata: I haven't had any real issues. I have had some worries about undue benefits, and some people become more "careful" once they find out. It really isn't an issue where I live, from my experience.

>Really depends on where you are, and who you interact with.

And that is emphatically not true for straight people: they are accepted everywhere. If you have to be careful about where you go and who you interact with because of your sexuality, then -- even if you take those restrictions on your life for granted by now -- it's still a demonstration of the continued power of homophobia.

I get what you're saying, but I think that attitudes to homophobia are sort of where attitudes to race were in the 90s. People are tempted to mark eliminating homophobia as 'done'. But if you look beyond more privileged folks, there's actually still a ton of homophobia out there, with real consequences. For example, it's been estimated that around 40% of NYC's homeless population is LGBT.

> I assume you mean 'undue' benefits, and not some kind of special undo feature only available to us gays :)

Whoops, fixed :P - Thank you!

> And that is emphatically not true for straight people

That is a good point. I haven't thought of it as homophobia, but perhaps it is.

I definitely recognize that I've been fortunate. Young, in a progressive area, with a good job. Hard to beat.

> 40% of NYC's homeless population is LGBT

I wasn't aware of that, and that is awful.

> 40% of NYC's homeless population is LGBT


I believe that particular figure originally comes from http://www.nyc.gov/html/om/pdf/2010/pr267_10_report.pdf and https://graphics8.nytimes.com/packages/pdf/national/20070307... .

40% is at the upper end of the estimates, and any specific figure should obviously be taken with a pinch of salt, given the difficulties inherent in obtaining precise data of this nature. However, there is little doubt that LGBT people are substantially overrepresented in homeless populations. This is the case in many cities and countries, not just NYC.

That is youth though which is a very different claim

Yes, it's generally young people who get kicked out of their parents' homes for being gay or trans. I forgot to add the 'youth' qualifier in my comment - my bad.

>the kinds of things that qualify as weird have definitely shifted

Weird to think about what is considered 'weird' now, actually.

For instance, more people have distanced from me after I politely tell them that "I don't do drugs" than any other thing I can think of. I honesty don't get it, but yeah, the standards by which people are judged have varied greatly with time.

Things change. Yes, it is weird, but I see your case as somewhat different. People distance from you because they don't want to be judged as weird themselves for doing drugs. They fear that they be misunderstood. Some may also be afraid you may disclose it to others outside the group. Some may indeed judge you for maybe being close minded or not open to new experiences.

Do you get the "Have you ever tried {insert recreational drug here}?? You're missing out, etc."

>Have you ever tried {insert recreational drug here}?? You're missing out, etc.

Yeah I get that a lot.

I get what you're saying and, incidentally, you made a pretty good point,

"People distance from you because they don't want to be judged as weird themselves ..."

Isn't this, more or less, always the case?

The way I see it is some sort of 'tribal' instinct, us vs. them, kind of thing. The norms that define inclusion/exclusion from the group could change everyday.

I find it frustrating and honestly quite sad how many people cannot get past this issue, and how many good relationships and opportunities never take off because of this barrier.

Yes, I find it rather sad too, but not as an immutable thing. I think that we have the capacity to move towards a better direction.

I am thinking that education has a lot of potential. We could experiment with and introduce some form of early psychology of self discovery to children in schools, something basic to help them learn to reflect. That would guide more people towards self fulfillment and a lot of these problems would simply disappear.

Yeah. Being weird isn't any easier, it's just that what is considered weird has changed. Being into computers used to be considered weird when I was a child (I was a "computer geek"). Now it's accepted and even considered cool. It's not that it's easier for me to be weird now, it's that those aspects aren't considered weird.

Things about me that are considered weird get buried on platforms like this. I've had many accounts here banned for it. I don't use foul language or attack people directly. It's just considered weird so it gets banned. I don't think it's easier to be weird. If anything it's much easier to have your life ruined by being considered weird. Take Richard Stallman, for example.

Lots of normal people pretending to be on the spectrum of Aspergers/autism may make that sound accepted but the people who really have it face the same hurdles they always have, except maybe in a less honest way, sometimes, which is probably worse. The same goes for mental illness, mental disability and physical disability. SSDD

> Want to avoid sending your kids to formal schooling

Acceptance of perceived weirdness at the intersection of the custody of minors seems like something which should move on a generational timescale

> Want to avoid sending your kids to formal schooling, sell things out of the back of your truck, or avoid working a full-time job?

For better or for worse I'd say these have always qualified as 'weird'. Homeschooling is probably less weird now that it would have been when I was a kid. Selling things out of the back of the truck and/or (men) not working a full time job falls pretty short of society's expectations of adult behavior.

> avoid working a full-time job

The Ryan's World toy review kid has earned $120M playing with toys by age 9, this is like the golden era of full-time job avoidance

Same as actors and performers in any other era since the invention of recording and mass distribution, providing the possibility (inevitability) for incredible amounts of money to concentrate (almost exclusively) to the very most successful at a given type of performance. You don't have to go through Hollywood (or whatever) anymore but it's still some happy intersection of luck + skill + hard-work (+ connections maybe) making it happen, with no two being sufficient nor all three being any guarantee, like there's always been, and there's still only a tiny (relative to global population) set of people who can be on top at any given time, no matter how high average quality rises.

In the case of Ryan's World, he appears to have benefited from a mother willing to quit her job to be his producer very early in his channel's history, and also able to competently perform that job, well before it was clear it'd make serious money. So even for a 9-year-old there's the luck/connections thing playing a huge role in this being a viable possibility, let alone any kind of likely-to-succeed play.

I wonder how that kid will turn out, child actor style

Are outliers really that convincing? A large volume of people trying to make it on social media earn pennies.

> avoid working a full-time job

I've always been told the difference between eccentric and crazy is income level.

The type of socially accepted people has changed, because capitalism now profits more from a different type of people compared to 100 years ago. Social progress is an illusion.

> “Lee. Got more name. Lee papa family name. Call Lee.”

“I’ve read quite a lot about China. You born in China?”

“No. Born here.”

Samuel was silent for quite a long time while the buggy lurched down the wheel track toward the dusty valley. ““Lee,” he said at last, “I mean no disrespect, but I’ve never been able to figure why you people still talk pidgin when an illiterate baboon from the black bogs of Ireland, with a head full of Gaelic and a tongue like a potato, learns to talk a poor grade of English in ten years.”

Lee grinned. “Me talkee Chinese talk,” he said.

“Well, I guess you have your reasons. And it’s not my affair. I hope you’ll forgive me if I don’t believe it, Lee.”

Lee looked at him and the brown eyes under their rounded upper lids seemed to open and deepen until they weren’t foreign any more, but man’s eyes, warm with understanding. Lee chuckled.

“It’s more than a convenience,” he said. “It’s even more than self-protection. Mostly we have to use it to be understood at all.”

Samuel showed no sign of having observed any change. “I can understand the first two,” he said thoughtfully, “but the third escapes me.”

Lee said, “I know it’s hard to believe, but it has happened so often to me and to my friends that we take if for granted. If I should go up to a lady or a gentleman, for instance, and speak as I am doing now, I wouldn’t be understood.”

“Why not?”

“Pidgin they expect, and pidgin they’ll listen to. But English from me they don’t listen to, and so they don’t understand it.” “Can that be possible? How do I understand you?”

“That’s why I’m talking to you. You are one of the rare people who can separate your observation from your preconception. You see what is, where most people see what they expect.”

- East of Eden, John Steinbeck

East of Eden is a great book. Highly recommend it, and really any of Steinbeck's works. Surprisingly relatable, even with how much times have changed since they were written.

Mezz Mezzrow was a Jewish C-list Jazz clarinetist from Chicago that was active during the depression.

He was also a successful marijuana dealer to the Jazz community. He married a black woman, moved to Harlem, and called himself a "voluntary Negro." When he was arrested at the Worlds Fair (60 marijuana cigarettes with intent to distribute) he convinced the cops he was black and thus was housed with black prisoners.

He was good friends with Louis Armstrong and has such a cult status among Jazz fans that there's a NYC Jazz Club named in his honor.

As Dylan wrote "To live outside the law, you must be honest." Especially so when conformity was life-threatening.

So the claim is he actually released some OK stuff at the end. How true is that?

Trad clarinet isn't terribly difficult compared to post-bebop jazz. Pee Wee Russell and Benny Goodman were probably the best at it in the 60s. I don't think I have any post-1930s Mezzrow recordings to make an assessment.

I think that it's not easier to be accepted because you're an oddball. I think it's easier to accept yourself as an oddball. People all over the Internet are oddballs to the greatest degree, and they aren't outcasts- they're founders, CEO's and engineers. I am personally a Nobody, which I'm completely fine with, but I let my geek flag fly. I am unapologetic about any of the things I'm into, whether it be science, "maker" scene type stuff, ham radio stuff, or even religion. I am who I am. I've accepted it, and I expect others to accept it if they want to. I'm really okay with people thinking I'm a weirdo. I kind of am in a lot of ways, but I don't care. Back then, you had to care. And in some cases, you still do.

I think acceptance in itself will actually make you less of a weirdo. It makes you less focused on "proving yourself", or thinking you need to look or act a certain way, makes you less defensive, and it makes you carry yourself at ease, looking confident.

Being able to understand and accept yourself are some of the most important developments both me and my girlfriend have gone through in the past ten or so years.

Self acceptance and forgiveness is one of the greatest gifts a person can give themselves. It allows you to actually be okay with who you are, and if you don't like something you now are allowed to focus your efforts on self improvement instead of self doubt or even self hate. It's been a long road here, too.

I can think of some examples in my own life where I felt like I had to 'larp' (pretend) in order to fit into the community I was part of. Luckily, I've stopped giving a fuck as I've grown older.

If I could send messages back to my 12yo self it would be "quit pretending to give a damn about football." Football was a big deal where I grew up and I spent a lot of time keeping up with it to "fit in." Fortunately I figured out it didn't matter by the time I got to college (which happened to be a major football university).

To this day when I tell people I went to UT Austin their first response is usually "Longhorns are doing great this year aren't they?"

"I have no idea" I respond. "But they have very good EE and CS departments."

I'd be careful with that advice. Sports are great conversation starters. People want to share what they are passionate about. I may not want to spend hours talking to them about it, but a few minutes that's fine. Who knows maybe you will learn something useful.

-1 Strongly Disagree. Sort of :p

When somebody tries to talk sports to me, I feign stupidity but in a silly way. For example if somebody tries to talk Football (American) I say "Oh, that's that thing where sweaty guys chase each other around and people talk about it, right?" and they laugh, realize I have zero interest, and we move on to a more relevant subject. It's all in how you go about it.

that’s a patronizing statement that i don’t think certain kinds of people would love

If it's said in a kindhearted way with a twinkle in your eye, people usually get it. On the other hand, I stopped trying to please everyone years ago.

My dad isn't into sports at all. He lives in a very sports-focused city, much more so than where he spent most of his life, so I told him my little sports trick.

Sports fan: "Did you see the blank game?" Me: No but isn't what's his name doing well?

99% of the time people will fill in whoever the star player is and talk about how good they are doing or say no they were doing well but they haven't been recent.

I didn't care much about sports when I moved to Chicago, which cares a lot about sports, but now I have some knowledge about all the teams and friendships with a lot of sports fans I wouldn't otherwise know well. Go Bulls.

There's a great episode of The IT Crowd about this (and how it backfires horribly)


And sports can be more than just athletics. I watch "SpeedGaming" and "Global Speedrun Association" competitions, and these have announcers, tournaments, ratings, and even sponsors.

Football and Basketball are generally more accessible to the wider population than Speed running. Which I believe is what parent post was referring to

I have this problem with European and World Cup soccer. I just follow them enough to be able to briefly feign interest.

Realizing that I don't have to give a fuck has definitely felt like an important step towards actual emotional/intellectual maturity. It has happened to me relatively recently, so I'm still new to the feeling :D

Don't know if age or success is the reason people stop giving a fuck.

Some people are full of shit, but hide it until they are more successful, which often correlates with age, and then stop to care and show the world their real face.

I'm not particularly old or successful.

I also think we might have different ideas of what "not giving a fuck" means. To me it's about being true and at ease with myself, even when I'm uncool or weird. It certainly doesn't mean being an asshole, rude etc.

Interesting thought.

I think the weirdos today look a little different than the classic stereotype. Being a geek/nerd actually became cool. In the 90's, it really was only the weirdos who were into programming and computers. Coming out of the closet used to be very risky. Not just socially, but you opened yourself up to real physical danger. It took a lot of guts to be honest with yourself and openly be who you were. Now, being gay is fashionable.

Look that the things that aren't considered cool to do/say/think today and you'll find the weirdos. I think they make our world richer.

I wouldn't say "fashionable," more that it's not widely looked at with fear, disgust, and moral judgment. It's still hard to come out: the stakes are high, and it takes a long time for your loved-ones to re-adjust their view of the world and how you fit into it. But once that happens it's no longer an "identifying" trait for many, so it's no longer a "weird" thing.

From the rest of your comment I assume that you mean well, but I would encourage you to reconsider your statement that being gay is fashionable, and reflect on why it might be offensive to some people.

Maybe it has negative connotations for you. But, I think it was an appropriate use of the word as many aspects of LGBT culture have worked their way into popular culture and are now considered cool (regardless of one’s sexual preferences).

Don't forget a certain F word is still used as an insult in English. And don't forget there are places in the world, where being openly gay is definitely not accepted (like Russia). Or even parts of the world, where it will definitely get you killed.

Gay marriage is not legal in many countries.


Calling being Gay fashionable is certainly a mindset that could only be developed in the last 5~ years in the USA or a very select few other countries.

Queen Eye for the Straight Guy came out in 2003. That's 17 years ago.

Which was a year before gay marriage was legal in the USA. Queer eye is a show that was showcasing something that was not commonplace at the time. I don't think it's an argument that being gay was fashionable in the early 2000's unless you mean fashionable in the most literal way.

I did it to protect my good reputation in case anyone ever caught me walking around with crab apples in my cheeks. With rubber balls in my hands I could deny there were crab apples in my cheeks. Everytime someone asked me why I was walking around with crab apples in my cheeks, I'd just open my hands and show them it was rubber balls I was walking around with, not crab apples, and that they were in my hands, not my cheeks. It was a good story, but I never knew if it got across or not, since its pretty hard to make people understand you when your talking to them with two crab apples in your cheeks.

- Catch 22

"When I was a kid, I used to walk around all day with crab apples in my cheeks. One in each cheek."

... A minute passed. "Why?" [Yossarian] found himself forced to ask finally.

Orr tittered triumphantly. "Because they're better than horse chestnuts... When I couldn't get crab apples," Orr continued, "I used horse chestnuts. Horse chestnuts are about the same size as crab apples and actually have a better shape, although the shape doesn't matter a bit."

"Why did you walk around with crab apples in your cheeks?" Yossarian asked again. "That's what I asked."

"Because they've got a better shape than horse chestnuts," Orr answered. "I just told you that."

"Why," swore Yossarian at him approvingly, "you evil-eyed, mechanically aptituded, disaffiliated son of a bitch, did you walk around with anything in your cheeks?"

"I didn't," Orr said, "walk around with anything in my cheeks. I walked around with crab applies in my cheeks. When I couldn't get crab apples I walked around with horse chestnuts. In my cheeks.

I've just read a nice little contemporary Japanese book about a woman who has a hard time not being "normal": Convenience Store Woman.


The envelope is a little bigger, but it's still hard. Try working with facial tattoos, or (if you are male), wearing anklets to work. Or being polyamorous in a lot of contexts. I could go on...

At enormous costs, gay people and others have widened certain channels a little, but the mindset of conformity still drives us -- so thoroughly that it was even hard to think of examples, a second ago. We are socialized in childhood, and later from our teenage peers, not to step outside the norms for our communities.

We fear to be different, and we fear the different, and it isn't even clear why. Why should I care if someone else is walking around naked? Why should I care if my coworker has tattoos? Or a thousand other things.

I agree people shouldn't judge, and I'm not defending it, but I think the fear they have is this: if you look like a certain "type", there's a decent chance your behaviour is predictable, and thus, safe (or at least manageable). But if you're just completely different people have no model to predict how you'll act. When people are confronted with that, some people react with hostility, some with avoidance, some by freezing up -- and some rare souls who have the confidence to have an open mind.

"And Then There Were None", SF by Eric Frank Russell, purposely characterises the natives as not fitting into "types" and thereby creeping out the Terrans who have come to explore (and exploit?) their planet...

It's still hard to challenge stereotypes.

You're not white, where are you from? Michigan? But where are you really from?

You've lost weight, how did you do it? Eat less? No, you must have found some magical shortcut, you just don't want to reveal your secret.

I think it depends what you mean by weirdo.

It's much easier to have odd interests nowadays and wierd hobbies because you can counter it by dressing well, good personal grooming and being in shape.

People are very accomodating of peculiar people nowadays as long as your are aesthetically pleasing to look at.

I don't know if that's forward progress or it's just shifted sideways.

Sounds like you're describing the Halo Effect: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halo_effect

> I think it must be a lot easier to be a weird misfit now than it was in 1935.

Jane doesn't have children, and people are always asking her why she doesn't have children. Jane learned a long time ago that it makes people angry and suspicious if she tells the truth, which is that she doesn't have children because she doesn't want children. So she's in the habit of explaining that she can't have children as a result of a medically necessary hysterectomy. Then people are okay with it and even sympathetic. (There was no hysterectomy.)

Some things don't change all that much.

I like the examples but I’m not sure I agree with the conclusion. An alternative argument is that it’s in some sense easier to be a weirdo or misfit today because much of what was a weirdo or misfit in 1935 is now accepted today (though I guess other things aren’t)

Society tells you to be honest but then only let’s you be free if you lie.

Makes you wonder what we really think about freedom.

For another example: "Winnie the Pooh". Every character seems to be affected by a disorder (vide https://fantheories.fandom.com/wiki/Winnie_the_Pooh), but it is fine. They accept each other as they are.

> So he's in the habit of explaining that the beard covers up an ugly scar. Then people are okay with it and even sympathetic.

Hah! My dad does the same thing with his mustache.

People keep bothering him about his unusually large mustache, so he always tells people it is to cover a cleft lip.

I can't even begin to tell how hard it is to be weirdo (e.g. vegan, teetotaller) even nowadays in some (although very much developped) societies like Japan. I am both (vegan & teetotaller), working in Japan, and a substantial part of my coworkers were mad at me. Another coworker is vegetarian because of some health condition, and nobody bothers him.

Being a teetotaller is incredibly difficult in many parts of the world. I realized later after I started drinking for the first time in my life that many people feel that teetotallers are judging them for drinking even if that is not the case.

I just remembered reading something years back about how “because” is a magical word.

People are surprisingly more susceptible and accepting of any request if you add a “because X” where the reason can be almost entirely arbitrary.

Examples included “can I cut in line, because I’m parked in a tow-away zone”, which resulted in something like 70% compliance vs 10-20% if the person didn’t proffer the added “because”

Was also examples of ridiculous ones like “can I use the photocopier before you (to a person copying 2 pages), because I have to make 200 copies of this (significantly bigger paper)” Surprisingly this also got a higher rate of compliance even though the request did not make any sense per-se.

TL;DR: Providing an explanation for any questionable request “closes” the narrative in a sense. The person now feels there is a justification for whatever made the situation weird to begin with, and therefore the situation no longer requires them to come up with justifications on their own.

(Brains/minds being lazy and whatnot)

The study this references was mentioned in the book Influence by Robert Cialdini. IIRC, even using the word because with a circular objective results in higher compliance. For example, “Excuse me. Can I use the xerox machine because I have to make copies?” resulted in 90%+ compliance rate vs. a ~50% rate with just “Excuse me. Can I use the xerox machine?” My memory is probably slightly with the exact percentages, but I always found that study fascinating.

> Mr. Raymond explains he is not actually a drunk, he only pretends to be one so that the ⸢respectable⸣ people will write him off, stay off his back about his black spouse and kids, and leave him alone. If they think it's because he's an alcoholic they can fit it into their worldview and let it go, which they wouldn't do if they suspected the truth, which is that it's his choice.

Rick: Y'see, Morty? It's just like I always said: there's an upside to being a drunk. It means people leave you alone, and they won't bother you with their stupid opinions on whatever it is you're doing that they know nothing about.

Morty: Uh, gee, Rick, I don't think that justifies annihilating universe G-435 on a bender...

Rick: Shut up Morty. That was a calculated risk. Pburpeople who don't take risks are like Galvani's frog legs: twitching, but not really alive.

> I think it must be a lot easier to be a weird misfit now than it was in 1935.

Everything is easier for people now than it was in 1935.

I had a professor who drank (presumably water) from a vodka bottle during an exam to mess with us.

The same is true now. People can be unforgiving if you challenge or change their world views, because while interesting, you have deprived them of psychological safety and the infallibility of their senses and beliefs. Worse, you may have infected them and exposed them to your weirdo social exile. What has changed is normal world views encompass more variation as a result of things like communications tech, seeing earth from the moon and space, adapting to urbanization and globalization, but there are still edges, and some very hard boundaries.

I used to be a weirdo, now I'm more of an intellectual traveller. Definitely from somewhere, just not here.

The last (and only) Steinbeck I read was Grapes of Wrath in high school and 17 year old me thought it was okay.

Would Cannery Row be a good choice for somebody who wants to give Steinbeck another try?

I'd say yes. It's not that long, and it's not so much a single story as a series of related episodes. Also, I think it shows Steinbeck at his best and at his worst at the same time. He really wants to hit you over the head with the dogged bravery with which people pursue even their hopeless lives. When it works, it works, and when he tries too hard, it's bathetic.

I definitely recommend Cannery Row, it was fun and rowdy and not all that long but still as memorable to me as Grapes of Wrath even if vastly different.

Yes! Cannery Row is a glorious book

Yes, I enjoyed it. It’s a short read, too.

Personally, I believe that there is a Conservation of Weirdness going on. Certain things are outside of the statistical norm (or mode, or whatever terminology you choose), with varying degrees of acceptability. What is acceptable now might not have been acceptable then, but something else will have become unacceptable in its place.

The current acceptability is a factor in determining how many Weirdo Points you accumulate for your various abnormalities.

American society in particular is ultra-legalistic but supplements the bareness of context with unwritten rules, some communicated in code, in implicit ideations (the ongoing looting in major cities are referred to as "violent"), some through passive observation or mimesis (like learning how to stare at African-Americans from one's avowed liberal parents).

Doc may have been a weirdo, but he was also the most popular and liked person in the entire town. The plot revolves around people trying to throw parties for him because they think he's so great.

Today, no matter your weirdness, it's likely been productized and advertised to the masses in some way.

I get seriously torn about resorting to trickstery to live in society. I'd rather live in the woods than faking human relationships, but society seems to force that upon us too often.

> Doc has a whim to try drinking a beer milkshake

Yeah, I had that same whim one time back about twenty five years ago... Let's just say that the idea of a beer milkshake is much better than the reality.

Of course the option is open to those in power also. Doesn't Boris Johnson's disheveled hair signify to all that he isn't to be relied on for accuracy, truth, or judgment?

Both of these books are fiction. I don't see how any conclusions can be drawn about how easy or hard it is to be a weirdo in any particular time.

Fiction is art. Part of the utility of art is that it holds up a mirror to society. This is fiction doing what it is meant to be doing.

Do/did these works hold up a mirror to society? Or are they heavily fictionalized so as to color the world with the idealizations and prejudices of the author that they aren't really recognizable.

> Do/did these works hold up a mirror to society?

Probably, seeing as they're both literary classics. (I've read both.)

I see this phenomenon as similar to the noble lie, except that it's to avoid personal trouble as opposed to some other altruistic reason.


I've told my share of personal noble lies because many people can't let go of irrational causes behind my actions. In order for them to easily accept my eccentricities, I have to provide a rationale, even though I'm well aware that many of the thing that I do are not motivated by reason but instead my unconscious.

There's more minor reason that I tell personal noble lies, which is that if someone asks me why I do X thing, and I actually tell them the truth, said truth is usually ridiculously simple, in which case they think that I'm blowing them off. In these cases, it's better for interpersonal relations for me to have either a canned story , or make something up on the fly, that's more interesting than the real one.

The first example that comes to mind is my father, whom is a great man in my eyes but, if we haven't talked in a while, he will ask me "What do you eat these days?" Depending on whether I'm trying to lose weight, I may have literally no rhyme or reason behind my eating habits. Often times, I couldn't tell you what it is that I tend to eat or have eaten. If I told my father "I don't know. I eat lots of things and don't think about it much.", I can tell that he interprets that as me trying to end the discussion. In that case, I don't necessarily make up a total lie, but I will try and remember the things I ate in the last few days and then speak like those are the things that I eat all the time, and I might even say something like "I eat the steak and eggs a lot because I'm trying to build some muscle."

Another example has to do with my mode of dress. Anyone who knows me knows that I wear the exact same outfit 7 days a week, 365 days a year. I wear a black t-shirt that's well fitting, jeans, and dress shoes. This is a bit of a strange outfit to some, and the dress shoes are funny to most people. The real reason that I dress this way is that I don't want to waste time and brain power deciding what to wear and in what combination; I don't care what I look like so long as what I look like is acceptable and fits my self image. This is not a satisfactory answer to most people, in my experience, and I suspect it's because they simply don't relate. The average person doesn't see the value in removing unnecessary choice from their daily routine, and their choice to wear a particular garment may indeed be necessary to them. So what I tell them is that I like to wear black because it doesn't stain, and I wear the dress shoes because they happen to be very water resistant when I step through puddles.

I think it must be a lot easier to be a weird misfit now than it was in 1935.

In Columbia, SC in the 1990's, all of us misfits hung out with each other. We had wildly diverse world views. We even had heated arguments with each other at times. However, we were all vaguely united in our being non-mainstream. If there were cliques, they could have their own gatherings without any outsiders, but we also shared lots of spaces. The only people ever ostracized were the Nazi Punks.

However, the World Music folks, eastern religion/woo enthusiasts, Old Timey music people, Rude Boys/Rude Girls, metalheads, punks (of several varieties), alternative music crowd, Harley motorbike enthusiasts, some of the Baptist street preachers/missionaries, neo-hippies, actual hippies, etc...we all hung out at the same cafes and music venues.

In the 21st century Bay Area, I find a lot more cliquishness of a particular aggressive, conformist kind. There can be this kind of quizzing/seeking for what you "really think," which might well be followed by judgments based on shallow outward signifiers and even outright verbal aggression. In years past, I never experienced something like that, outside of certain of the most intolerant religious/homophobic/ethnic zealots, usually sparked off by my appearance and/or ethnicity.

    In the high school halls
    In the shopping malls
    Conform or be cast out

    In the basement bars
    In the backs of cars
    Be cool or be cast out

The stories are charming. I find the last sentence hopelessly naive.

I keep in touch with my high school teachers every now and then, asking about how "kids these days" are evolving. The biggest trend has been that socializing now occurs digitally – during breaks, classrooms are silent as students use snapchat.

Another trend that's really stood out – not just at my school, but according to other educators I've talked to across the US – is much less bullying, and much more acceptance of kids who are different (especially those with disabilities). I'm lead to believe that the sort of kid who would previously have been a bully is now the type to really stick up for someone who is differently abled. Of course, having a "weird" preference of some kind – like a partner of another race or a long beard – is a different thing, but still, my impression is that most schools at least in the US are far more tolerant of differentness now than even 20-30 years ago.

How do educators keep track of bullying if it's nearly all online? Given that educators often struggle to detect bullying happening out in the open.

I wonder if that's just because differences are simply more prevalent.

When I was in school, I was the fat kid. Of course, this lead to a lot of bullying towards me. Nowadays, I see lots of kids whom are much fatter than I was, but there are enough of them at this point where it's probably just normal to be overweight or obese, which would make me suspect that they are bullied less than I was. If my past child self went to school today, maybe he wouldn't even be considered fat.

The irony in that is that children shouldn't be getting fat in the first place, so this isn't necessarily a good sign.

> I'm lead to believe that the sort of kid who would previously have been a bully is now the type to really stick up for someone who is differently abled.

Or who enjoys bullying a different outgroup now. That does raise questions about the nature of bullying. Do bullies see themselves as heroic protectors of the norm, whether that norm is white people in the 1890s or trans Eskimos in the 2020s? How do bullies experience their own bullying of others? Do they feel righteous?

There has to be a literature about this.

I don't. It's easy to be cynical, but the internet in particular has given birth to or allowed to flourish a number of...interesting communities. Not to mention tolerance on a number of dimensions, like race, gender, and sexuality, is way up.

You could argue that it's not that we're nicer to "weirdos", but rather we've expanded the bounds of what's considered non-weird behavior, but at that point you've basically just used circular reasoning: "Niceness to weirdos is constant because I define weirdness such that niceness to weirdos is constant."

Why so? For the most part, modern society doesn't really care about who you are and what you do. Most things have become very dehumanized, for good and for worse.

You can order whatever food and food combinations you want, just make the order and wait for it to arrive. The driver won't judge you; he cares little and has probably seen weirder orders.

It is also easier than ever to find people with similar interests and 'weirdness' as you: there's a zillion small (or not so small) communities that find each other on the internet. Furries, lgbtq+, or magic card collectors. There is still some judgment and negative social repercussions of course, but magnitudes smaller than what it used to be a hundred years ago.

I meant that what is considered weird has shifted. What was weird before is easily accepted today. Some stuff that was accepted earlier has become a no-go.

Social mores change, sure. But it does seem like tolerance for the weird has broadened much among the youth. And yeah, certain attitudes and behaviors in the past are now taboo. A good depiction of that phenomenon:


> I think it must be a lot easier to be a weird misfit now than it was in 1935.

I think it just depends. Some things are more accepted, others less.

It might be pretty career-limiting if one admitted that the reason one never works Sunday mornings is because one is at church.

In the US that shouldn't be career limiting, 3/4 of people are religious and most go to church at least some of the time.

Also who works on Sunday morning?

Employees in shops. One reason I moved into a big city is to be able to do grocery shopping on a Sunday morning.

I get that there are people working retail, but I was asking that mainly about programmers.

>One reason I moved into a big city is to be able to do grocery shopping on a Sunday morning.

Nearly every grocery store in every small town in the country is open on Sunday morning. Is it different where you're from?

> Nearly every grocery store in every small town in the country is open on Sunday morning. Is it different where you're from?

Yes in France in most smaller towns Sunday most everything will be closed. There are special rules about working on Sunday in the law.

Applications are open for YC Winter 2023

Guidelines | FAQ | Lists | API | Security | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact