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Class Teaches Nerds Social Skills 639

Posted by samzenpus
from the geeks-need-love-too dept.
PeterAitch writes "According to Reuters, Potsdam University in Germany is now teaching social skills as part of their IT courses. This is intended to 'ease entry into the world of work'. The 440 students enrolled in the master's degree course will learn how to write flirtatious text messages and emails, impress people at parties and cope with rejection(s)." The class is taught by a superficial model, who will fall in love with the nerdiest student at the end of the semester after realizing that he is beautiful on the inside.

*

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Class Teaches Nerds Social Skills

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  • by Chrisq (894406) on Monday January 12, 2009 @12:02PM (#26417857)
    "According to Reuters, Potsdam University in Germany is now teaching social skills as part of their IT courses. This is intended to 'ease entry into ..... a superficial model, who will fall in love with the nerdiest student at the end of the semester after realizing that he is beautiful on the inside.
    • Fixed (Score:5, Funny)

      by RockMFR (1022315) on Monday January 12, 2009 @12:05PM (#26417905)
      According to Reuters, Potsdam University in Germany is now teaching social skills as part of their IT courses. This is intended to 'ease entry into ... a superficial model, who will ... love ... the end ... after realizing that he is ... inside.
    • by MindlessAutomata (1282944) on Monday January 12, 2009 @12:05PM (#26417915)

      I don't think there's a response to this news article that could be better than the parent's.

    • by clam666 (1178429) on Monday January 12, 2009 @12:28PM (#26418323)

      When it comes to "hot chicks" and being rejected, just remember...

      Somewhere, someone is tired of her shit.

      • And when it comes to "nerds" and being rejected, just remember...

        Everywhere, everyone is tired of his shit.

      • by pzs (857406) on Monday January 12, 2009 @01:17PM (#26419159)

        Amen, brother. Every time I see a woman who is immaculately dressed and made-up, the same thoughts go through my head:

        • How much does she spend on those clothes, makeup and hair cuts?
        • How much time does she spend at the gym, in the shops, as well as preparing her appearance every morning?
        • How much mental energy is she expending on making sure she looks like that?

        Of course there's also the (even more important) fact that somebody who spends that much time and energy on their appearance clearly thinks their importance is crucially important. In some cases (not all, of course) this will be to the detriment of other qualities like, you know, being an interesting or pleasant person.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 12, 2009 @01:37PM (#26419471)
          ITT - superficial snap-judgements.
        • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 12, 2009 @01:44PM (#26419591)

          True that.. that's why I dress in whatever I pull off the floor that passes the smell test, have stubble most of the time, and usually need a haircut weeks ago. Someone someday is going to look at me and go "My God, that man is free. I want him."

          Hasn't happened yet but it will!!

          Right??

        • by tgatliff (311583) on Monday January 12, 2009 @01:46PM (#26419619)

          So I guess a guy who spends 99% of his day behind his xbox/computer and hasnt taken a bath in the last 2 weeks is any better?

          in my opinion, it is all about balance... Learning to be technical, but also learning to have good communications skills. Also, learning about basic hygiene and what society sees as acceptable is not bad to know either.

          "Hot" women, as you call them, are almost always allot more insecure than normal looking peers. Meaning, they spend so much time because they are trying to compensate for feeling inferior in some way. They are also exceptionally easy to date if you know how to approach them, and are experienced enough that you never get rattled. Also, looks are not as important as they are played to be... Confidence and a good understanding of how to read/react to body language are the most important attributes..

          • by cayenne8 (626475) on Monday January 12, 2009 @02:35PM (#26420457) Homepage Journal
            "in my opinion, it is all about balance... Learning to be technical, but also learning to have good communications skills. Also, learning about basic hygiene and what society sees as acceptable is not bad to know either."

            This point can NOT be overemphasized. In the 'real world'...quite often, in addition to who you know (#1 importance), how you present yourself and people skills, will outweigh your raw tech. talent. Me? I'm not that good...never have been. My degree was in biochem....I missed med school a couple of times, and kinda 'fell' into IT while learning to make a relational database with gui from Foxpro for med. research while trying to get in. I've gone from there through jobs...till I'm now doing consultant work, usually from my own company...specializing in DBA and data design work. Are there people more skilled than I? YOu bet!!

            But, over the years...being able to speak well, NOT being shy about getting up in front of people and presenting...have carried me further than people I know that are tech wizards...but, are scared to speak out in a room full of 3 people (including them).

            Knowing how to work with people. Having the ability to think and learn on your feet....will help out the most. This gets you IN the door, and of course, you have to be able to learn and do when you get there. But, also....it often doesn't have to be the prettiest way to do it, or most elegant solution. Get it done...get it to work...and get it turned in and have it succeed on time. No...I'm not talking bad code...but, say if you are behind, if you have good people skills, etc...you can explain the deal, and get more time, understanding....etc.

            ""Hot" women, as you call them, are almost always allot more insecure than normal looking peers. Meaning, they spend so much time because they are trying to compensate for feeling inferior in some way. They are also exceptionally easy to date if you know how to approach them, and are experienced enough that you never get rattled. Also, looks are not as important as they are played to be... Confidence and a good understanding of how to read/react to body language are the most important attributes.."

            Confidence...is a key one here. Took me a LONG time to figure out. Be confident...slightly aloof, and a little self centered. It helps to get them. If you have to fake it...do so. Again, being able to 'put a face on'...is a people skill that will help you get laid too.

            The subtle body language and signs women put out there?

            I gotta admit....I'm completely lost on this one. I just never see or read them....I've had friends that are good at it...ask me what the deal was with "X" ...did I get some. And often I tell them I had no idea....so, I do try to keep friends around that can read the clues..at least initially...I use them as translators..hahaha.

            But yeah..that body language women often put out, if it is shy of carrying a sign, or physically putting her hands down your pants is the toughest thing to read, IMHO.

            But, if you can act confidently and fake it...that will carry you a long way.

      • by MaskedSlacker (911878) on Monday January 12, 2009 @02:23PM (#26420277)

        It's me. I'm sick of her shit. She and her girlfriend ruined all of my god damned cups.

      • by GreggBz (777373) on Monday January 12, 2009 @02:32PM (#26420425) Homepage
        I'd recommend that anyone that's tired of this "shit" read The Game by Neil Strauss.

        Now, you might have to slightly disregard some of your morals, but the methods in this book work.

        Also, try to find a well groomed friend (preferably female) to give you fashion advice. Women enjoy making over geeks. You *have* to go shopping sure, but nothing is ever easy.
        • by Rycross (836649) on Monday January 12, 2009 @02:51PM (#26420683)

          I always find it amusing when people reference "The Game," as some sort of getting-laid gospel, considering Strauss ends up making the pick-up artists look like total losers by the end of the book. By the end of the book, the message seemed to be to live life, have fun, and not sweat how much you're getting laid. But that may be my interpretation of it.

    • by Drakkenmensch (1255800) on Monday January 12, 2009 @12:44PM (#26418593)

      "According to Reuters, Potsdam University in Germany is now teaching social skills as part of their IT courses. This is intended to 'ease entry into ..... a superficial model, who will fall in love with the nerdiest student at the end of the semester after realizing that he is beautiful on the inside.

      By that point of course, he will have become a handsome and rugged jock on the outside while keeping the smarts and sensibilities of a computer geek, thus bridging the gap and making the world a better place where nerds and football jocks can live together in peace while 80's pop-rock plays over a sunset.

  • Hey! (Score:5, Funny)

    by XPeter (1429763) on Monday January 12, 2009 @12:03PM (#26417883) Homepage

    I flirt with that hot female blood elf on WoW, you insensitive clod!

  • by Mhtsos (586325) on Monday January 12, 2009 @12:03PM (#26417891)
    Don't start conversations by shouting "first post" after someone mentions a subject.
  • by Woundweavr (37873) on Monday January 12, 2009 @12:04PM (#26417895)

    PeterAitch writes

    "According to Reuters, Potsdam University in Germany is now teaching social skills as part of their IT courses. This is intended to 'ease entry into the world of work'. The 440 students enrolled in the master's degree course will learn how to write flirtatious text messages and emails, impress people at parties and cope with rejection(s)."

    The class is taught by a superficial model, who will fall in love with the nerdiest student at the end of the semester after realizing that he is beautiful on the inside.

    Each week the nerds will be tested on a combination of technical ability and geek trivia to win immunity to the social challenge. The loser of the challenge will have to leave the show to the bellow of Ogre from "Revenge of the Nerds."

  • Grades...? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by elashish14 (1302231) <profcalc4&gmail,com> on Monday January 12, 2009 @12:09PM (#26417977)
    It must suck if/when you fail it though....
  • by Xerolooper (1247258) on Monday January 12, 2009 @12:09PM (#26417981)
    Where was this course when I went to college.

    Social Intelligence is a skill that can be taught and learned. That is how most people get it although somewhat unconsciously. Inherent personality does play a role which is why "Nerds" have to work harder at learning it.

    Because the majority of the world runs on Social IQ more than we like to admit.
    • by Mr. Underbridge (666784) on Monday January 12, 2009 @12:24PM (#26418229)

      Social Intelligence is a skill that can be taught and learned. That is how most people get it although somewhat unconsciously. Inherent personality does play a role which is why "Nerds" have to work harder at learning it.

      So is quantum mechanics, but like with social skills some are just basically hopeless.

      Because the majority of the world runs on Social IQ more than we like to admit.

      When was that in question? I work with a number of very smart people who I wouldn't even think of putting in front of a customer. Of course, there are also smart people who can hold a real conversation, so I think this stereotype is overplayed.

      You have to know your stuff, but if you can't express it you'll always be the guy they stick in a cube where he'll never interact with anyone. That guy also has his ideas stolen quite often, unfortunately.

    • by KalvinB (205500) on Monday January 12, 2009 @12:24PM (#26418235) Homepage

      A lot of homeschooled kids end up socially disfunctional because they aren't put into extra curricular activities where most socializing happens even in public schools.

      You could probably learn just as much as the class teaches by joining clubs and sports teams. You learn how to interact with people by being around people.

      A lot of it is just getting past your fears and putting yourself out there. The more you do it the more your fear lessens or at least your ability to deal with it improves.

      • by Notquitecajun (1073646) on Monday January 12, 2009 @12:31PM (#26418381)
        It's an odd toss-up, and the one mistake many people make in homeschooling - the social isolation. However, there are good reasons to keep them out as well - so many of the kids in schools are also socially stunted with crazy, short-term priorities and morals and values that are absolutely worthless. Self-control is frowned upon.

        I've heard of some other curious instances, like elementary kids being homeschooled for a few years and then placed into schools, where they nearly immediately assume leadership roles in their classroom and don't have the self-esteem issues from being picked on so much.

        There's also something to be said from learning social skills from adults rather than other immature kids.

        I'm planning on homeschooling, btw, if I cannot afford a good private school.
        • by JCSoRocks (1142053) on Monday January 12, 2009 @12:40PM (#26418507)
          If you do homeschool I'd really encourage you to find a way for your kids to regularly interact with their peers. I spent 5 years working with high school students. Every kid that came in that was homeschooled took at least a year to stop being socially retarded. It was almost impossible to have a conversation with them when they first started coming. After a year or so you could actually talk to them about something they were interested in and they had developed sufficient social skills to build friendships with the other kids. Obviously my experience isn't scientific, but I'm not exaggerating - Literally ever homeschooled kid, literally over a year.
          • by benj_e (614605) <walt@eis.gmail@com> on Monday January 12, 2009 @02:02PM (#26419915) Journal

            Not only is your experience not "scientific" (as if experiences could be), it is not typical.

            I worked in higher education for many years. The consensus among my colleagues was that homeschooled kids were usually in the top tier of academic work and had no more problems with social interactions than any other college freshman.

            In short, they were normal students who were better prepared academically that the majority of their peers.

          • by suggsjc (726146) on Monday January 12, 2009 @02:42PM (#26420573) Homepage
            Your experiences may be correct, but don't let "home schooled" be a label you just put on people. I was home schooled from third grade until high school. During that time I was involved with many extracurricular activities from athletics to various clubs (both social and academic).

            When I did come back to high school, I don't think I was any more awkward or disoriented than any of the other kids moving up from middle school. The biggest difference I really noticed was how far ahead I was above most of the students curriculum-wise (even compared to the "advanced" courses I took). Additionally, I earned a starting position for two varsity sports my freshman year (soccer and wrestling), began playing football my sophomore year eventually earning a starting position my junior year. I graduated with a 3.86, was named "most outgoing" and got into a top 25 university (Vanderbilt).

            That said, I know exactly the type of people you are talking about. They were some of the most socially awkward people I have ever met. This was mainly due to their parents super controlling nature, and I honestly feel bad for the years it will take them to adapt to the "real world."

            Still, my point is that this group in general is sensitive to stereotypes (ie. "Nerd") and the associated negative social connotations that they hold. Home schoolers are no different. Many may have social issues, but that probably has more to do with the atmosphere they grew up in.

            To throw a little extra into the debate. I think that home schooling is a fantastic method for teaching when an appropriate environment is available. From the more focused curriculum , to the individual attention, to the flexibility of schedule it has many advantages. However, I think it is all to commonly used by parents who want to control all aspects of their children's lives. It is most often these people who give the overall system a bad reputation. Still even though we may or may not choose to home school our own kids I will adamantly defend it as a choice for parents.
          • by Kelbear (870538) on Monday January 12, 2009 @05:20PM (#26423197)

            I was friends with a homeschooled girl back in college, she wasn't bad at socializing, she was extremely friendly and extremely talkative.

            But you could definitely tell she was homeschooled because she was sweet to the core and so ready to love a stranger. It was disarming to see so much naivetè. There are a number of "walls" that everyone puts up around new people and she didn't have them. I didn't even recognize these walls existed until I met her.

            She assumed everyone would be a great friend and treated them as such, she had a much shorter sense of personal distance, and was much more open to physical contact. I am the polar opposite, everyone who's not my friend isn't worth getting to know, and I don't want to be touched by anyone but my closest circle of relationships. I'm not saying my way is better, or even that it's a rational behavior. In fact, I'm pretty sure I'd be happier if I was as social as her(though I'm pretty happy already). I just hope she won't end up burned somehow by being so open.

    • by D Ninja (825055) on Monday January 12, 2009 @12:50PM (#26418679)

      Where was this course when I went to college.

      It's called "parties" and "extracurricular activities" and "sports" and the millions of other opportunities that college provides.

      (For the record I'm not trying to troll...just give me a sec.)

      My freshman year of college, I spent a lot of time in my dorm room. I played around on my computer, I studied (a lot), and...that's about it. Yeah, I did a little martial arts here and there, but not really. I didn't have any friends to speak of.

      Then, after a good kick in the pants by this guy called "Life," I realized I was wasting a very valuable experience. So, I put down the books (sometimes), shut down my computer, and I went out and experienced life. It was, without a doubt, the best decision I ever made. I forced myself into social situations which I was uncomfortable in. I made myself apply for an RA position just so I would be forced into more social situations.

      Without going into too much detail, it paid off. For those of you in college, take advantage of everything that it provides. You don't necessarily get those type of opportunities once you leave.

      • by DriedClexler (814907) on Monday January 12, 2009 @01:42PM (#26419535)

        Well, I was in the exact same position as you my freshman year and tried to improve my sophomore year. But ... it didn't go well, and it's not as easy as you make it sound.

        I tried to cure my problem (of being socially inept) by joining a club, several in fact. Because I rubbed some people the wrong way (figuratively!), one girl started telling the leadership that I did very horrible things (which were very untrue) and got a bunch of other girls to go along with her in complaining until I got expelled from it. Shortly thereafter, I noticed people in the other groups I tried joining, not wanting to interact with me, and then I found out about more (untrue) rumors against me.

        Then, when I filed a formal complaint about this treatment, the administrator destroyed my complaint without telling me and didn't act on it. I appealed to another administrative organization, who then gave me similar treatment.

        So, any time you tell one of these nerd types to "get over their fears" and "what do you have to lose?", well, *that* is what they have to fear, and it's possible to face *much* more than mere rejection.

        I think that it is, in a sense, hard to teach these social skills. Most people don't realize, and so can't even articulate, what social skills they're learning as they're learning it. Even on this very discussion, virtually all the advice that's been posted wouldn't help: I *already* shower daily and I relgiously brush my teeth. While I may not have the best fashion sense, I do get complimented on outfits I pick out myself from time to time. And I don't wear star trek/wars themed stuff or bring up my MtG skills.

        In my experience, it really all does boil down to me just not *knowing* the unspoken boundaries that other people somehow know. And I don't know any way you can teach this to someone -- whenever someone actually tells me I did something wrong (in the rare cases where I actually get to learn it!), it is something very hard to describe: "Yes, you should have done that, but the *way* you said it put people off".

        In more recent groups that I've tried to join, I haven't gotten the treatment of the one listed above, but for some reason nobody ever wants to see me outside of it, and (it seems) participation quietly drops sharply once I join.

        And just to give you an example of how hard it is to find relevant advice: in another slashdot discussion about this, someone suggested that when I join a group, I bring along a friend, preferably a hot female one. Well gee, when I dont *have* a friend in the first place, let alone a female one, let alone an attractive female one... . And when I found a girl I knew from high school and asked her what I should do, she could only think of things I've already done.
        Riddle me this: why is it that if someone has trouble in math or something, other people who can do it will offer to help, but if someone is socially inept, the immediate reaction is to ostracize the person rather than offering to give them social coaching? I have helped people all my life in technical areas where they needed it, but not one time has anyone made any such offer to me.

        Okay, well this post is getting long. I don't know if I'm representative of socially inept people. But please, stop giving trite dismissals of us (I know you weren't specically doing this, but many in the discussion are). This loneliness is starting to really cripple me -- I never realized growing up how important it would be later in life to have friends. While there may be a few nerds that genuinely don't care what others think, I think you're mainly seeing people doing the best they can to cope with a bad situation.

        For those of you in college, take advantage of everything that it provides. You don't necessarily get those type of opportunities once you leave.

        And how painfully I learned this :-(

        • by SoupGuru (723634) on Monday January 12, 2009 @03:44PM (#26421675)

          Society has rules. Sometimes the rules are pretty hard to figure out but a large majority of us get taught the rules from a very early age.

          I find it frustrating that the obsessive nerds that will sit down with a problem and not sleep until it is solved (for fun!) won't apply the same practices to interacting with those around them.

          Join a group but for god's sake, if you don't know what you're doing, shut the hell up! Be polite, answer questions concisely, and, most of all, smile. Sit back and observe those around you. Be shy. Shyness is one thing. Being obstinate and abrasive is a completely different thing.

          You'll get the hang of it with practice but just like any job, you can't jump in at the highest levels without learning the ropes first. And you learn better when you're listening and attentive.

        • Riddle me this: why is it that if someone has trouble in math or something, other people who can do it will offer to help, but if someone is socially inept, the immediate reaction is to ostracize the person rather than offering to give them social coaching? I have helped people all my life in technical areas where they needed it, but not one time has anyone made any such offer to me.

          My theory as to the reason people don't help socially inept people when they do help with topics like maths or history or whatever, is that it is obvious if you don't know that stuff - there is no way or reason to hide your lack of knowledge. However, when it comes to social situations (speaking from my own past experience now), sometimes while one does know the answer, one is too shy or too afraid of mocking to act correctly. Now that I am (somewhat) more socially capable (it took me a while to build up gu

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          I understand what you're feeling because I've had the exact same problem my whole life, until recently, when I finally changed my approach. The trick: ignore the terrible advice of "just be yourself"; sure, you can be yourself eventually, but when meeting new people or in large, heterogeneous groups, this never works, you have to be "playing the same game", so to speak. And you have to be thinking about it until it becomes second nature.

          I find that things like "brush your teeth", "be confident", etc., are a

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        Without going into too much detail, it paid off

        Sounds like someone's been talking to their lawyer. I'm guessing you either became a drug dealer or started tapping some underage ass. Either way, good for you.

  • by Vandil X (636030) on Monday January 12, 2009 @12:09PM (#26417983)
    Remember, Kevin Mitnick was a computer hacker, but an even better social engineer.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Opportunist (166417)

      Social engineering is about abusing social interactions and emotions. Not having them.

      I'm quite good at faking emotions, that doesn't mean I know how to feel. I know what the person I am dealing with expects to see or how to press his buttons. That does not mean I understand how those buttons work, I only know that pressing those buttons gives me the desired results.

  • by camperdave (969942) on Monday January 12, 2009 @12:10PM (#26417993) Journal
    he is beautiful on the inside.

    ... And he has the X-Rays to prove it.
  • by John Hasler (414242) on Monday January 12, 2009 @12:12PM (#26418021) Homepage

    > ...how to write flirtatious text messages and emails...

    And get arrested for sexual harrassment.

    > ...impress people at parties...

    "Impressive! I bet he took courses in being a boor!"

    > ...and cope with rejection(s)...

    Sulking works fine. Go away and leave me alone.

    • by elrous0 (869638) * on Monday January 12, 2009 @01:10PM (#26419075)
      Reminds me of that old Saturday Night Live skit where the geeky guy got accused of sexual harassment when he tried to even talk to a woman but the handsome jock was just "flirting" when he showed up in just his underwear.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by smellsofbikes (890263)

        It's an unfortunate truth that sexual harassment is *unwanted* attention.

        The handsome jock walks into the situation with far more behavioral leeway than the geeky guy.
        Exactly the same thing happens with the cute, buxom young woman, compared to the middle-aged, dowdy mother of three. Sexual discrimination is very much a two-way street.

  • You cant teach tact. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Lumpy (12016) on Monday January 12, 2009 @12:13PM (#26418045) Homepage

    Many of the "nerds" I know are not socially inept because of lack of training. It's because they have a disorder or disease. Not bathing, incredibly wierd behaivoir, etc... The "hot chick" is not going to date you because you are...

    1 - dressed like a wierdo. Sorry Emo/Goth is not cool.. It's as bad as dressing in a star trek shirt.

    2 - Social tact, you have to actually have some.

    3 - Hygene.. good god, take a bath, discover toothpaste, and deodorant, cheap cologne is not a substitute.

    4 - There are no good pick up lines. Stop trying, stop reading the speed seduction books, they do not work if you do not understand human psychology and look like a "hunk" or at least semi cute to a woman.

    5 - Nerdy = dorky and repellant. the second you mention you're a top notch national MTG player they will ask to go to the bathroom and never come back. Magic the Gathering is NOT COOL, nor any of your really nerdy activities.

    Now all bets are off if you find a nerdy girl. I strongly suggest never even trying for the hotties and look only for nerdy girls. Librarians tend to be nerdy and incredibly sexually creative. Honestly a HOT CHICK is not worth the pain of their upkeep, and maintenance.

    Find a nerdy chick that is a bit of a sex freak and you got a incredible relationship.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Shakrai (717556)

      Honestly a HOT CHICK is not worth the pain of their upkeep, and maintenance.

      You forgot to mention that most nerds don't make enough money to afford the maintenance of keeping a hot chick ;)

    • by 0racle (667029) on Monday January 12, 2009 @12:26PM (#26418273)

      Many of the "nerds" I know are not socially inept because of lack of training. It's because they have a disorder or disease

      ProTip: Nerds are not that way because most, or even because a majority, have assburgers syndrome. They just don't care. They've convinced themselves they are above the rest of the world with their little societal rules. There is no disease or disorder, they're just stupid.

      As a corollary, having Asperger's syndrome is not cool. It's not a badge of honour. It's not something to be proud of. If you are, you don't have it.

      • by Xelios (822510) on Monday January 12, 2009 @01:11PM (#26419083)
        Asperger's is not a disease, nor is it a mental deficiency, nor are the people who supposedly have it 'stupid' (do you think someone who thrives on social situations doesn't think he's above a nerd?). That kind of thinking comes from the flawed assumption that there's a class of "normal" people, and anyone exhibiting behaviors not part of this class must have something wrong with them. Truth is there is no such thing as "normal", there's only an average, and I don't find those concepts to be the same at all.

        Asperger's is a behavioral difference, that's all. Some people thrive on social relationships, most people enjoy them, some people find them to be a chore. Those people thrive on independence, spending an evening by themselves doing whatever they're interested in is as invigorating for them as a night on the town for a socialite. Big deal.

        On the one hand we all accept that people are different, and on the other hand we expect them all to be the same. It's confusing. Lets just go with the first one and stop expecting everyone to exhibit the same social behaviors, shall we?
        • by Ukab the Great (87152) on Monday January 12, 2009 @03:39PM (#26421547)

          Just one viewpoint, take it or leave it.

          Aspergers is to the body language and subtle social cues that define 2/3 of human communication as blindness is to vision or deafness is to sound. Only on the outside, no one knows you have an impaired perception. You don't get cut the slack that the person signing or the guy carrying the cane would.

          You constantly monitor yourself every second to make sure you don't do anything wrong. You're labelled as weird, or rebellious, rude, or unpleasant to be around because you can't perceive the messages people are trying to send you. You have few friends because whatever secret magical language that's being spoken to generate new connections with people you totally miss. Many attempts you make to reach out to people end in disaster, and you can't for the life of you understand what the hell it is that you're doing wrong.

          Those lonely nights spend in front of a computer are ones you'd probably rather spend hooking up with a girl you met at a bar instead of learning the intricacies of Yacc or device drivers. And it drives you absolutely fucking insane that everyone else is in on the fuck-fest that is life except you.

          Any super-abilities you might gain from this condition are cold comfort, as they're used more as survival skills to get around the enormous deficits you experience in being able to read people. The money that you earn from your impressive abilities has to be the substitute for having lots of friends who could help you do stuff (e.g. you pay someone to install an super-heavy air conditioner in a second story windows because you don't have many friends you can call on to help you). It's not really a preference for certain kind of social lifestyle, it's a crappy hand of cards you're dealt that you have to make the best of.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by MrHops (712514)

            Just one viewpoint, take it or leave it.

            Aspergers is to the body language and subtle social cues that define 2/3 of human communication as blindness is to vision or deafness is to sound. Only on the outside, no one knows you have an impaired perception. You don't get cut the slack that the person signing or the guy carrying the cane would.

            You constantly monitor yourself every second to make sure you don't do anything wrong. You're labelled as weird, or rebellious, rude, or unpleasant to be around because you can't perceive the messages people are trying to send you. You have few friends because whatever secret magical language that's being spoken to generate new connections with people you totally miss. Many attempts you make to reach out to people end in disaster, and you can't for the life of you understand what the hell it is that you're doing wrong.

            Those lonely nights spend in front of a computer are ones you'd probably rather spend hooking up with a girl you met at a bar instead of learning the intricacies of Yacc or device drivers. And it drives you absolutely fucking insane that everyone else is in on the fuck-fest that is life except you.

            Amen to most of the above. I don't know how it affects/is applied by others in this situation, but for me it exhibits as an overriding concern for rules and rulesets. It's taken me about twenty five years to accumulate enough rules to get by in most interactions. There are times however when don't have good rules, and I stumble.

            This fixation on rules has engendered a wealth of misunderstandings, ostracization and ridicule, mostly because the others don't realize that my socially awkward actions are bas

        • by moderatorrater (1095745) on Monday January 12, 2009 @03:43PM (#26421647)

          That kind of thinking comes from the flawed assumption that there's a class of "normal" people

          There are people who are within one standard deviation of the mean, and there are those who are not.

          anyone exhibiting behaviors not part of this class must have something wrong with them

          That's not flawed so much as it's an admittance that society relies on the ability for people to make assumptions about other people. I assume that if I stick my hand up in the air after you've done something good, you'll slap it and we'll both acknowledge it as a "high 5". If I go out in public, I wear clothes and you don't beat me up. Things like that. When people can't make these assumptions about other people, or where these assumptions start to fall apart, you get problems. Nerds (like myself) tend to not be clued into these assumptions and unspoken rules, probably because we're just dumb when it comes to social interactions the same way that we're smart when it comes to math and science. Honestly, math and science come easy to me in ways that most other people never understand. The inverse is true with social skills: I don't get why it comes so easy to people.

          So, while I find myself in that minority that doesn't interact very well socially, I've been able to make do enough that I can interact with people and can pass my quirks off as jokes most of the time. I'm eccentric as hell, but people tend to like me. I also understand why these judgments are made and the value they give to society.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by timeOday (582209)
      Nothing you said counters the idea that a person could improve their social skills through study! Personally, I believe it is possible... to a degree. 99% of people, nerds or otherwise, do not and never will have that "it" factor that makes people swarm to them. But improvement is possible.
    • by Loundry (4143) on Monday January 12, 2009 @12:43PM (#26418565) Journal

      The reason why nerds have that weird behavior is because they can get away with it. This is because they essentially have nothing to lose, and the capital that I'm referring to here is acceptance and validation by his peers. Since he knows he would never "get anywhere" with them anyway, he has no incentive to have the hygiene or tact that you mention.

      If his self-esteem is even lower, then he claims those "outsider" social trappings (emo/goth) as part of his identity. This is a way for outsiders to gain companionship, but, inside, many of them want out.

      The only way for an individual to gain self-esteem is to earn it. It can't be given to him by teachers who hand out "Good Job!" stickers to all students regardless of effort. An individual has to meet people, make friends, take chances, stand up for himself, refuse to be abused, be positive, and be funny. If he's rewarded for that behavior with more friends, then he gains self-esteem.

      High school teaches us nerds all the wrong things about human interaction. Being punished for our choices drives us farther into seclusion and "nerdy" behavior.

      Teaching "social skills" won't fix anything. Instead, send people to therapy and help them find ways to rebuild their destroyed self-esteem. Telling a nerd, "Bathe every once in a while!" is not going to do him any good if, inside, he says to himself: "I'm not worth the effort."

      My self-esteem was destroyed when I was 12. It took me until I was 34 to earn it back.

      • by Loundry (4143) on Monday January 12, 2009 @12:47PM (#26418633) Journal

        At very bottom rung of the self-esteem ladder is furries. No matter who you are or what you are into, you will be accepted into a furry community. It's a great big love-fest over there. It's no surprise that there are so many gay guys and nerdy guys among furries: both of them have traditionally had their self-esteem utterly ruined by the time they graduate high school. The furry community provides them with a perfect escape from the hell world they've grown up in -- this escape is a fantasy world where everyone loves them.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by CrazeeCracker (641868)

        I'm going to copypasta one of my previous comments [slashdot.org], because I never got any replies, and because I feel it is appropriate:

        I'm just going to throw this out there...

        As a European who's never been to the US, I don't pretend to have any idea of what a "typical American high-school" looks like. The only clues I'm exposed to are the depictions of high-schools in Hollywood movies (bear with me, here).

        Now, I know that movies are probably the worst possible source of information for this type of thing, but the fac

    • by metlin (258108) on Monday January 12, 2009 @12:43PM (#26418571) Journal

      Add to the list - work out.

      Seriously, people underestimate the importance of looking buff. In undergrad, I was a skinny guy (I used to play in a metal band, which was considered cool by some chicks, but I was still skinny).

      Somewhere after grad school, I discovered the gym and sports that I enjoyed (rock climbing, for one). And once I started bulking up, I was amazed at the attention that women give you. To all the geeks out there -- buff up. Stop eating junk, eat healthy, work out regularly, run, get good abs and build some muscle.

      You'd be amazed at how much better your chances are. Especially in summer.

      • by mikael_j (106439) on Monday January 12, 2009 @01:28PM (#26419343)

        Ah yes, and one reason so many geeks ignore this seems to be that they're assuming that when females they know say "looks aren't important" and "I think six-pack abs are gross" they actually believe that their female friends aren't being manipulative and essentially playing mind games.

        Summary: Most "real geeks" (not "I play video games and call myself a geek") tend to assume people are being honest since they fail to see any logical reason for lying about something like one's preferences when it comes to body type, hairstyles and such...

        /Mikael

    • by TWX (665546) on Monday January 12, 2009 @01:27PM (#26419319)

      I'm going to have to disagree with some of your points.

      Being part of a subculture (goth, emo, punk, etc) is fine when you're associating with others in that subculture or with others who are attracted to that subculture. I was a goth and I met most of my girlfriends at goth clubs or at Rocky Horror.

      Tact is less important than it may seem, as there are plenty of assholes who do well with the ladies because their behavior is seen as being strong, edgy, or cool. This usually doesn't last long, but it lasts long enough for that particular guy to get what he wants.

      The art of the pickup line is misunderstood. The entire point of the first minute or two that you speak to a new person is to convey that initial impression. What you say very much matters. Now, traditional, oft repeated lines are hackneyed to the point that they're useless unless she's already looking for sex, but something clever that matches the rest of your personality might serve to distinguish you from all of the other guys who are all attempting to do the exact same thing.

      there's a difference between being Nerdy, Dorky, and Geeky. Geeks have technical, obsessive interests, but also have social skills above a minimum threshold. Nerds have technical interests and abilities but don't meet the minimum threshold for social skills and general self-maintenance. Dorks have the same rough social skills and self-maintenance as Nerds, but generally lack the technical abilities. They're the AOLers, the me-too-ers, the guys who are "so into science fiction" because they like Star Wars and have watched it over and over and over, and the like.

      I will agree with you on bathing though. Shower daily (preferably morning) and as preparation before going out.

      I will also agree that most women generally do not care about what speed of microprocessor is in your PC, or how much RAM you have, or what kind it is, or what video card you have. If women care about your computer at all, it's because it functions for them the way they want it to. You'll only find out if it functions the way they want it to if you manage to get them home, so it's generally not worth trying to go that route until after you've already been successful. Same with gearheads. Women don't really care about the dual-quad intake with 1600cfm airflow into the 440 with headers with 2" primaries into 3.5" collectors and a race cam; they care that the car looks cool, sounds good, and that they'll look good riding in it. It can be a six cylinder for all they know, so long as it looks and sounds good. When I would go to meet women, I'd talk about other hobbies that I had, like my movie collection, music, and the like.

      It's all about giving them what they want, really. It may be a bit of a facade, but that's okay, really, if they're in it only for the short term too.

  • by bigattichouse (527527) on Monday January 12, 2009 @12:27PM (#26418291) Homepage
    As children (4th thru 6th grade) my wife and I attended a once-a-week school for the gifted in Okaloosa County, Florida (think Destin-area) as the gifted program. Not only was it like college, where you signed up for classes in things like Chemistry, Children's Theatre, or Visual Arts - but they had an amazing class called "Looking Good". Dr. Christensen taught one class for girls, and one for boys on etiquette, dating, ballroom dancing, hygiene, etc. At the end of the year, they held a dance at which the two classes would interact. I have to say it left a huge impression on me over the years - and I feel my life, particularly in social situations, was greatly enriched by her program and teaching.
  • US HR practices (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Kupfernigk (1190345) on Monday January 12, 2009 @12:45PM (#26418607)
    Some of the posts here seem to be unwittingly revealing just how religious right fundamentalist a lot of US HR practice can be. The cultural gap is staggering. One US company I worked for in the 90s had a policy that nobody in a plant was allowed to have a "relationship" with anyone else. Husbands and wives in the same company were found jobs at different locations...imagine their shock on discovering that in Japan co-workers were actively encouraged to marry, and that US HR policies could not cross the Pacific.

    Surely the point of the training is that some nerds don't know the point at which ordinary human interaction becomes harassment, and because of this either fail to communicate or get into trouble. I didn't know this and then ended up in what was nearly a single sex university (Cambridge at the end of the 60s) - it took several years in the world of work to recover.

    It's also worth pointing out that when nerds do get married, which they usually do, it often turns out very well. Low divorce rates, successful children. The application of intelligence to human relationships is not a bad idea.

  • by girlintraining (1395911) on Monday January 12, 2009 @12:50PM (#26418699)

    This will be about as good for them as "Change Your Underwear, Change Your Life," and similar self-help books. Most of what people call "social skills" problems really boils down to self-esteem. I've been to more than a few support groups, talked to a lot of people about their childhood and adolescent learning experiences, coached people on interviewing skills... I don't have a degree as a therapist, but at least in my social circle I'm the go-to girl (for better and for worse!). That said, don't take what I have to say as the gospel -- it's just my own point of view.

    First, there's nothing wrong with so-called "nerds", "geeks", or many other classes of people that are bright, insightful, but often shy and hard to approach. They are rarely rude, they don't insult people, they respect another's boundaries if told directly. About the only thing "wrong" with them is that they miss subtlety and sometimes lack tact. Frankly, there's a lot more wrong with people who consider themselves to have "great social skills" than those who don't -- those people are often manipulative, petty, morally underdeveloped, and often destroy group harmony to further their own ambitions. For the girls, I have two words: Queen bee. Guys who have these "great social skills" are often egotistical, inconsiderate, etc. My friends call it the "napoleon complex", after a certain short guy in history who had a real problem with the word "no."

    I guess what I'm saying to the people who think their social skills have the suck... Stop beating yourself up. Contary to popular belief, none of us start out equal. And throughout life we never become equal. Trying to move towards normality is like trying to... Well, it's like the Kobashi Maru, you just can't win. So stop trying. Normal doesn't even exist. If you want these mythical social skills--Go someplace where you think there are others like you (or others who you'd like to be like if your self-concept isn't that developed) and listen to them. Watch, learn, interact. What movies do they watch? What phrases do they say? What little gestures do they make? Reason out what it all means and then practice it on your friends and anyone else you can. And don't judge yourself for awhile -- just go out and try things for a bit. The judging part everyone else will do for you (*trust me on this*), so focus on doing it instead of reviewing it. This isn't a question to be answered, but one to be lived. Someday you will find yourself experiencing the answer.

  • by kenp2002 (545495) on Monday January 12, 2009 @01:18PM (#26419179) Homepage Journal

    In short: Go to the gym, get a good job, spend a lot of money on them. Given two nice guys the one with the bigger paycheck or better looks, or both... wins.

    It's been that way for the last 8000 years, why would it change now?

    Fact: Nice Guys Finish Last because people are complacent by nature. If you are nice all the time, it becomes expected and undervalued. That's why the jerks win, our rare "Love you babe" outweights your pathetic daily adorations.
    Fact: The more money, the more women. Provider instincts haven't change in the last 8k years, ain't gonna change in the next 8k years. If you don't have money, get some weed.
    Fact: Good looks get you laid, good portfolio gets you laid. You need to advertise, no one likes a bum, a cheapskate, or an anorexic that can't move the bookcase or change the tire.
    Fact:
    Good Looks + Money = Easier
    Average Looks + Average Money = Door Mat easily replaced by the line above.
    Ugly + Broke = Alone
    You can always be replaced. Sad fact. So get yourself as high on the list as possible will buy you more time before they find an upgrade. If your lucky they'll die of old age before finding an upgrade.

    It's a shallow material world and wishing it was better, teaching 'social' skills, will never replace a fast car, nice suit, and a good tan.

  • by kcdoodle (754976) on Monday January 12, 2009 @01:57PM (#26419831)
    It took me 10 years to learn to shut up at corporate meetings.

    Higher management does not want to hear why their ideas won't work. Even when confronted with reality, they will quickly forget that you WERE CORRECT. You only will be remembered for being argumentative, for rocking the boat, and when layoffs come you will be first, or when promotions come you will be last.

    When upper management comes up with an idea, however stupid, ALWAYS EMBRACE it. Remember -- they spent a bunch of time coming up with this idea, so it MUST be great?!? Corporate ideas are subject to the effects of evolution, good ideas thrive and survive, bad ideas quickly go extinct.

    No one will remember the ideas that go extinct, they are quickly forgotten. But they will remember that you were (or were not) a "team player". (Whatever that means.)

    If you are always positive and never point out management's inadequacies, you will promote faster, earn more money, and retire earlier.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Red Flayer (890720)
      Hmm. Sounds like you have worked for some pretty crappy employers.

      Your strategy, of embracing all that your superiors want, is a good way to look pretty good -- but in the end, bad for your employer.

      While I agree that it is not a good idea to knock down ideas during a meeting (which will make your superiors look bad), I would hesitate at embracing those ideas fully if I really felt there were problems.

      You should make sure to bring up your objections in a private correspondence that will not make your b
  • by Qbertino (265505) on Monday January 12, 2009 @02:21PM (#26420239)

    I find that age gives me the edge. There may be some biografic details to that, but being a end-30ties geek and nerd I find the big stars among my peers dimishing and me rising to new heights. It is only last year that I had my second and third sex & love-affair ever, and all three (including my first) know about each other and accept it. I remember nearly killing myself over not having ever had a girl at the age of 23 back in the early nineties. Now I find myself growing cooler by the year.

    My geekishness and passion for the things I liked doing still burns and reflects back on me and has early twen PYT students at currently hip CS flat-sharing parties judge me about late 20ish and brake into heavy flirting. ... That 22 yr. old nurse at the last party was particularly cute. *sigh*

    I was the typical nerd that didn't consume great amounts of alcohol back then and stopped drinking 20 years ago, which starts to give me an brainpower edge over my former-jock-now-fat-ass springbreaking peers. Instead I stayed up late on Fidonet, RPG and Tabletop sessions, pimping my social skills, my typign, wording, debating skills and my literacy. On top of that, everything awkward and geeky back then is super hip now. Comics (now Mangas), Fantasy, IT and computers, programming (gives you the status of some high priest at some occasions nowadays) and gaming.

    Now I work at a game dev company with a current growth rate so bizar you wouldn't believe it, and am one of the oldest and most experienced amoung a team of currently 180 people. The 'young' guys come to me every odd day with a question, and when I give them an advice they listen and are gratefull.

    I got my ass kicked by the pricks at school so many times, I still burn with fury sometimes just thinking about it. I've practiced performing and martial arts since the end of highschool and today I'd outrun every jock, who have all grown fat and lazy and/or have tar-lungs because they where cool back then and started smoking. And then I could still beat the living piss out of them, 5 at a time.

    IMPORTANT ADVICE TO EARLY TWEEN NERDS: If you are a young male geek and nerd, rejoice. You're time is ten to fifteen years into the future, when your peers, girls included, have enough life experience to have learned what you know allready. Pratice art, take your time to learn about style, fashion and manners geek style (i.e.: learn it systematically like a new PL), stay in shape, go and take dancing lessons (I'm picking up Tango again next month), cut smoking and alcohol and live healthy and at the age of 30+ you'll be able to take your veritable pick of the litter of good-looking girls who can appreciate intelligent, reasonable men. When the pricks have burned all their karma and you'll kick their ass on every scale available and of interest to attractive women. Oh, and the sex will be awesome. Promise.

  • by ErichTheRed (39327) on Monday January 12, 2009 @02:21PM (#26420243)

    A lot of people might laugh at something like this, but I'm not. I don't work with tons of people who might be considered "nerds" but that's mainly because my industry is a little less tech-heavy than a typical IT company. But, I have worked with tons of nerdy consultants/contractors.

    There's two main types -- the first is the cultural nerd. Many people in IT have different backgrounds and come from all over. Some may not be used to American culture or know how to act in certain situations. The second is the typical native-born stereotypical basement-dweller nerd. Working with one of these tends to be very difficult just because they annoy most "normals." I'm not a social genius either, but I know what is and is not appropriate in a work setting. I show up to work in clean clothes, shower regularly and really try to take an interest in whatever topic a coworker wants to talk about. Some people I work with really don't make this effort.

    Even a class on "what to do in a work environment" would be a huge plus. How many times have you had to cut off a colleague who kept interrupting in business meetings and saying "No, you're wrong, that'll never work."

    Anyone left stateside in IT in the next ten years or so is going to have a really hard time finding work if they can't at least interact with people.

  • by yoshi_mon (172895) on Monday January 12, 2009 @02:30PM (#26420385)

    I'll preference this quick with my own bias. I've gone though life as an above average looking geek. I base that on the amount of relative attention I've gotten from the opposite, and sometimes the same and while thx guys-not my cup of tea, sex. And notice I said attention not necessarily action. That is because...

    As someone pointed out social IQ has a lot to do with what happens 'in life'. How does this social IQ get formed? Well by in large I believe it is done naturally as people grow up. We are very social animals and so normally a lot of trial and error shapes the way that people learn to interact. However 'geeks' and other social recluses go one of, and there may be more but these are the two that I have noticed, two ways.

    1. They remove themselves from socializing to an extreme degree.
    2. They are involved in socializing activities but over think everything.

    I personally am a bit of #1, I am a geek after all that code/PCB/story/whatever wasn't going to write/build itself. But mostly after many years of introspection, go figure, it's been #2. In most situations normal people, and I feel really dirty writing that because it could easily be a put down or myself bragging but have to express it some way so blah, don't think about what they might do or say. They instead will just act upon it. Those that actually learn by that trial and error method are those who become normal people.

    Now keep in mind there are those normal people who don't even learn from that normal trial and error method. And I damn sure know that there are plenty of people out there who are socially backwards without the backup of even being smart. The damming thing about being smart and socially backwards is that you know that your being socially backwards but feel helpless do do anything about it.

    So anyway back on point for those people who over think things in social settings I wonder if any course is going to help. Seems to me like it would just reinforce that mentality. Rather as a number of people have said they need to actually go out and socialize. Even at the risk of being uncomfortable and making a bit of a fool out of themselves.

    Keeping in mind that that those normal people already did it and made fools out of themselves too, but just did it in the get out of being a dolt free zone of being young. And finally that being even pretty good at being a social creature never removes the chance of being a fool. Rather just reduces that risk. (Of course some of my better memories involve being rather foolish.)

  • by permaculture (567540) on Monday January 12, 2009 @02:58PM (#26420801) Homepage Journal

    No-one's mentioned introversion / extroversion yet? Briefly,

    75% of people are extroverts. They gain energy from social interaction.

    25% of people are introverts. They lose energy from social interaction, but gain energy from solitary cogitation.

    75% of intellectuals are introverts, and only 25% are extroverts. This is probably why the 'socialising for nerds' class is necessary.

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