The In-Crowd

This is proving to be a jugglesome summer, with a bunch of optional tasks and ambitions piling up all willy-nilly on my desk. In the next few weeks I hope to finish off and send out a couple of stories, chip away at the revision of my novel, and work on a few hypnosis recordings, in addition to any game writing that might come my way from the fine folk over at Superhero Necromancer. All the while I’ll be trying to revise and tighten up my daily routine, which currently features my return to the gym, some low-level household repairs, and some prep for the fall semester. It should make for a pleasantly hectic stretch.

I’m also trying to keep up with some of my usual diversions in the new shuffle, and most mornings I swing by Discord, Reddit, and a couple of other channels to see what’s happening in the worlds of hypnosis, ethics, gaming, and other areas of interest that intrigue me. It’s not much of a morning ritual, but it’s usually enough to get the gears spinning.

Today’s visit to HypnoDiscord was particularly interesting, insofar as what I believe to be an adult human male–one in his early 40s, as it turns out–is having a meltdown. He has, to his thinking, made an earnest effort to engage and be engaging, to enter into dialogue with his fellow Discordians respectfully and amiably, to earn himself the sort of exposure that will make him a fixture on the channel he’s joined for years to come. Alas, his efforts have not paid the dividends he expected, and this morning he’s railed against the in-crowd for denying him the access he deserves.

Folks, he’s been on the channel for about eleven days.

I will not pretend to be wily in the ways of human interaction, networking, or suchlike things, but (since Discord makes retracing steps fairly easy) I went back and took at look at how this critter engaged with the channel. And Lo! it was perhaps not as wholesome and inoffensive as he suggested. He indeed put himself out there, as the kids say, but often in intrusive or obtrusive ways, popping into conversations and offering underinformed opinions, offering tactical compliments to the users he hoped to impress, and otherwise doing things that struck most other users as a little bit disingenuous. And at a second level of engagement he was behaving in less savory ways–piling on in some exchanges when he could see which way the wind was blowing, reflecting negatively on other contributors in order to install himself at a higher place in the conversational hierarchy, etc. It made for an interesting portrait, all told. What struck me as telling, at day’s end, is that he felt his efforts were sufficient to earn his way in after a very short tenure on the boards.

In general I do believe that most social fora involve some level of earning in, but in-crowds tend to be more inclusive than exclusive phenomena. They’re most often matters of finding ones folk, surprisingly enough, rather than going out of one’s way to bar others from admission. The recent Stoker Awards make for a fine illustration, especially since I “watched” them mostly from the sidelines on Twitter. I think it’s 100% normal and healthy to be envious of the lively interactions had by folk in the horror community on such an occasion, especially since they were lovely folk having a lovely time: gorging on books, meeting old friends and peeps they’d long admired, and celebrating one another. More intriguingly, at least with today’s theme in mind, you could see folks Earning Their Way In live–not by dint of being so important and conspicuous that they couldn’t be ignored, but being friendly and accessible, attentive and generous, genuine and gentle. There is of course a natural, inevitable dimension of self-selection (one would rather expect that folk who regularly see each other on the convention and awards circuit would be apt to meet one another and form friendships), but on the surface there’s no evidence of the sort of concerted gatekeeping that our pal on HypnoDiscord called out. There are just folk being folk, looking out for like-minded folk out there in the madding crowd, doing all the honest, authentic, and open things that connect folk to one another.

While I’m here trying to connect, however, I might as well mix in some overt self-promotion, for I am in the final round of the contest over on the Big Purple Wall. If “Clicker” diverts, amuses, or moves you, be sure to give it a vote! You can vote every day over the ten-day contest run, and I’d sure appreciate it!

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