This is the bit of his original post that I got the most crap from people over even though I was posting a link and was not the author of the piece.
2. Acknowledge that you don’t get to define other people’s comfort level with you. Which is to say that you may be trying your hardest to be interesting and engaging and fun to be around — and still come off as a creeper to someone else. Yes, that sucks for you. But you know what? It sucks for them even harder, because you’re creeping them out and making them profoundly unhappy and uncomfortable. It may not seem fair that “creep” is their assessment of you, but: Surprise! It doesn’t matter, and if you try to argue with them (or anyone else) that you’re in fact not being a creep and the problem is with them not you, then you go from “creep” to “complete assbag.” Sometimes people aren’t going to like you or want to be near you. It’s just the way it is.
People are morons. If you want to discuss, calmly and rationally why you do or do not agree with portions or all of the information in a piece, great. Let’s do that. If you’d rather type rude and personal things at me in all caps and anonymous, then you’re a moron. And a coward. And I’m going to continue to call you names to your anonymous face.
Moving past that, Mr. Scalzi goes on to explain in further detail why he thinks this way. My favorite bit:
What can I do when I try to be [x], and I come off as not[x] to some other person? In the very short run, not much of anything. People are going to respond to me the way they’re going to respond to me, for all the reasons they have that response. I’m not going to know all those reasons unless I try to engage them in a Quest for Context, which may not be convenient or appropriate at the time. I’m best off accepting that to them, that’s how I’ve come across.
The next thing I can do is ask myself, well, do they have a point?AmI being glib/unamusing/an asshole? Because sometimes they’re right and I am wrong. In which case, fair enough. I’ve learned something and will work to fix my behavior. Note that this requires a certain amount of personal honesty and willingness for critical self-examination that everyone says they have but lots of people actually don’t. On the other hand, If I decide theydon’thave a point, then I generally chalk it up to people having differences of opinion and let it go.
What I don’t generally do is demand that the other party see it my way and believe that if they don’t then there’s something wrong with them. One, who has the time, and two, I’m not sure it’s really important that everyone respond to me in precisely the same way.
Bottom line here: Your self-image is not the same as the image of you others receive. People will see often see you entirely differently than you want them to. No one’s required to see you the way you see yourself, and you probably can’t make them do that even (or often especially) if you try. If you try to insist that they must, the likelihood of you coming across as petulant and unpleasant rises significantly.
So, no, in this respect, some people (often women) seeing other people (often men) as creepers when those other people are trying to be interesting and engaging and fun is not actually an unusual reaction dynamic at all. Whatisdifferent about the creeper scenario is that there is very often a physical and psychological dynamic that has threatening possibilities to it. Which to my mind makes itmoreimportant for people to realize in that situation that they don’t have the ability to dictate how others respond to them, and to accept that as part of the ground rules going in.
One final point: If your takeaway from all the above is to think “If I can’t control how other people respond to me, then I’m relieved of my duty to be concerned about how I come across,” then you’re doing it wrong. People may respond to you differently than you intend; you should still make an effort not to be a grasping, self-centered assbag. In my experience, being a grasping, self-centered assbag is one of the very few times where how you present yourself is exactly how other people see you, every time, without exception.
And with that little, highly relevant update, I’m going back to my non-tumblr-y cave.
Oh by the way, the Walking Dead game on facebook is really quite amusing.