Monday, April 26, 2010

Some points on social skills.

On the last post, someone asked me to write a guide to social skills. I don't think I can do a full guide, because I'm still in the learning process myself, there's still things I don't understand, but I'll do some bullet points. Succeed Socially is also a good resource for socially awkward people.

Helpful Metaphor 1: Drawing.
I can't draw very well. And I used to think that people who were good at drawing simply had an ability I didn't. They think of what they want, put pencil to paper, and they somehow know what to do. I figured it was just a natural talent and that I could never learn to draw.

Then I worked with CC, who was an artist. He told me about art school; about drawing thousands of straight lines and perfect circles and shading exercises, about learning anatomy and perspective, about studying composition starting with the simplest shapes. Drawing for him was not talent but technique, something he had to learn and work at intellectually. It was no use for me to say "I just can't draw, it's not my thing," because I know that I could learn to draw if I put in the years of effort that CC did.

Likewise with social skills. They're not "you have it or you don't," they're something you consciously learn and practice. Socializing isn't an instinct; it's a skill, and how you socialize is not "just who you are" but what actions you choose to take.

Helpful Metaphor 2: Directions.
When I first moved to this town, I was lost all the time. I was used to the grid system in Seattle, and this place is all goddamn cowpaths from 1729 that wind around in strange directions and change names every few blocks. When I was trying to find the supermarket, I had to Google it and write down every turn: "Left at Elm, right at Main."

After a few trips with my written notes I had the directions memorized, and I started using landmarks instead of street names. "Left at two blue houses, right at the cemetery." And after a whole lot of trips that stopped being conscious, and I simply drove to the supermarket, going left and right just because that's the way to the supermarket.

Likewise with social skills. They feel hopelessly forced and artificial at first, and you have thoughts analogous to "shit, am I going to have to write down all the lefts and rights any time I go anywhere?" But after enough practice you'll learn them so throughly that they come to feel like instinct. What feels like tremendous effort initially will, in months or years, become just how you act.

Okay, now some specific skills.

*When in doubt, be nice.
This is the number one rule that's helped me develop social skills. People will put up with a lot more awkwardness if you say kind and generous things. Don't suck up, but be positive, especially when you don't know people well or you're not sure how to respond to something. Even stock-phrase politeness--"nice to meet you," "that's very interesting," "have a nice day,"--while sometimes awkward in its own right, beats the hell out of silence or negativity.

Being sardonic and cynical is fun, it's funny, and sometimes people will be entertained by it, but it's risky to do when you're on shaky social ground. You might insult something the other person likes, or you might come off as someone who just hates everything. (Something I worry about doing on this blog, actually; I'm not nearly so hypercritical in real life.) I wouldn't say "don't ever be negative," but I would say "when in doubt, don't be negative."

In particular, resist the urge to debate. Most people don't like being disagreed with, especially if you give the impression of finding fault with every statement. If something's important to you, of course speak up, but don't debate minor points just to prove how smart you are--"winning" wins you nothing.

*Be polite.
Don't forget your "hello," "goodbye," "please," and "thank you." Offer to help the host clean up after parties, offer to get people a snack or a drink when you get up for one, and if people are moving furniture or setting/clearing dishes offer to help with that. If people are visiting you, guests' preference for entertainment count above your own. Being polite and helpful gets you a lot of points even if you're awkward, and sitting there looking like you're being served by someone who's supposed to be your friend can come off jerkish.

*Observe and copy.
If you're not sure what's appropriate to do in a situation, look at what everyone else is doing. If everyone else came in and sat down on a chair or couch, plop your butt down; if everyone else is standing around with a drink in their hand, get to the punch bowl and find a little conversational circle to join. Listen to the direction the conversation takes and follow it there--if they're making jokes, if they're telling stories, if they're debating a subject, chime in with your own contributions in kind. Listen to how other people are talking to tell if it's appropriate to use swear words or share personal things (when in doubt, don't) and which topics are interesting to them.

*Observe and react.
When others are talking, listen. I used to have tremendous difficulty knowing when it was my turn to speak, but I found that following along closely with the speaker, rather than waiting for my turn, helped fix that. It also helped my responses be true responses to what they were saying, rather than "now let's talk about me." Make it a goal to be able to paraphrase whatever someone just said to you.

When you're talking, watch. People's faces and body language will tell you whether they're interested or disinterested, pleased or put off. Whether or not you're able to salvage the current interaction, the information will help you improve in the future. And if things really go south, just stop talking. This is another situation that's awkward, but not as awkward as the alternative of turning it into a monologue.

*Try to be average.
Average doesn't mean boring or generic. It means in the middle--not the center of attention, not hiding in the corner, but mixing through the area (physical and conversational) where most people are. Don't talk constantly and don't be silent; talk sometimes. Don't demand attention; don't exaggerate accomplishments or experiences or put on strange affectations to be different. By all means, show off your unique personality and interests, but don't try to be super-cool, just try to be normal and unique.

That's not an oxymoron; socially normal people are still all different. Every "airhead blonde" and "frat boy" (two groups that aren't that dominant in the mainstream anyway) has their own personality and history and interests. Seeing the mainstream as stupid or bland "sheeple" is a grave mistake and you cannot be really socially skilled if you look down on normal people.

*Don't obsess.
Not on people, and not on one topic. Fandom babble is uninteresting to someone outside that fandom, but more importantly, any specific topic can tire people out if you go on too long. Talk about your interests, by all means, but if people seem bored or the conversation moves on, talk about something else. Likewise, don't take a joke too far; if a Monty Python quote cracks people up, don't go on to re-enact the whole scene. (Also, keep this in mind.)

*Don't apologize or excuse your awkwardness.
When you say "I'm sorry I'm awkward," or "ha ha! I'm so awkward!" it draws attention to the awkwardness and it doesn't help. Better to act like you're doing fine and need no excuse.

*Clean up!
Nothing puts people off like being grossed out. There's no need to change your body or style, but you do have to present it well. Shower and brush your teeth every day and if you get sweaty take another shower before social events. Your clothes don't need to be "fashionable," but they should be clean, in good condition, and fit well. (This isn't a firm rule, but a button-down shirt or nice top can make a better impression than a geeky logo or slogan tee.) If you have facial hair, trim it neatly. Pay attention to your smell--BO and Dragon Breath are very serious social handicaps.

This is one area where it's important not to be a perfectionist. Don't think "I'm fat, so it doesn't matter if I dress well" or "I'm really ugly, who'll even notice whether my beard is shaggy." People know what you can and can't help, and putting in effort where you can counts for a lot.

*There are no exceptions to social skills.
Don't "let your guard down" and revert to weirdo mode when you're with family or close friends, and don't think there's an entirely separate set of skills for dealing with people at work or people of the opposite sex. It's all one thing. People who are close to you may tolerate and understand your weirdness, but they still appreciate it when you remember to say "thank you" or you stop talking when they get bored. And there's no special tricks for special situations; the very same behaviors that make dudes at a bowling alley want to talk to you will please your boss and interest the ladies. (Well, not the very same behaviors, burp-wise and all. But the same underlying concepts.)

*Put up with a little, but don't put up with a lot.
If there are a couple people in a large group that you don't like, or the conversation turns briefly to something that bores you, say nothing and deal. If someone says one mean thing to you, calmly tell them that it was rude and move on. But if you just don't like a group of people at all, or if someone's repeatedly mean to you, leave. Don't make a scene, don't try to change them or call them out, just walk away. No one, no matter how skilled, gets along with everyone.

*Invite people to be your friend.
If you'd like to spend more time with a particular person, the best thing to do is just ask. Most people will say yes if they can, especially if you suggest a specific (inexpensive and time-flexible--maybe getting coffee or going for a walk) activity. Or if you hear that a bunch of people are going to do an activity together, don't be afraid to ask if you can join in.

*Fake it 'til you make it, baby.
If you play the role of a socially comfortable and likeable person long enough, it'll grow into you. It might feel entirely like a role at first, but just keep plugging. If you want to be liked, it's worth it.

Wow. That got long. I hope it's not too preachy or condescending, and I'm sure there are big things that I missed. But these are some useful things that I've learned.


  1. How useful! Well written, I think. You summarized a few main points, and led up to the one thing that does seem hard; fake it till you make it.

    I especially like the "when in doubt, be positive". Sound reasoning.

    As usual, a pleasure to read.

  2. What a nice post! I totally emphasized, and I remember learning most of these things on my own too. I thought, and still think, perhaps mistakenly, that most people just naturally know/learn these things. I distinctly recall always feeling awkward and unable to chit chat in school when it seemed everyone around me did it naturally.

    As I got out into the world, I was, and still am! constantly astounded by how nice, in general, people are. How open and willing they are to be my friend. And how whenever I do make the effort to talk to new people, they nearly always really want to befriend me.

    I guess the lesson is, people really aren't judging us all the time. They're not thinking about that. They're probably worried we're judging them.

    Thanks for such a well thought-out post. You should tweak it up and send it to Cosmo as an article. ;-)

  3. Some people write pretty much the same stuff and call it The Game - those people call themselves PUA, I remember.

  4. entelle - Thanks! :)

    Amy - Good point about "they're probably worried we're judging them"--most people really aren't such harsh critics, and if you extend friendship to them, they have no inclination to say "you're just not good enough, goodbye." (Sadly, in high school they often will, because high school kids are immature and have a bizarre social structure, but in the real world this is more true.)

    Anon - Haha NO. You show me Game that tells you to treat the opposite sex the same as anyone and "when in doubt, be nice and polite," and I'll show you... Game I'd actually respect, guess.

  5. Thanks for this--and for the link. A lot of it made me wince, honestly, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.

  6. Great post. I wish that someone had told me some of these things before I got into college.

    For a good article that explores why some of us might not have felt at home anywhere but our own tiny groups of maladjusted rpg'ers/drama club people/debate club people see

  7. All good advice. You have my endorsement, Holly; this is how you change from being a lonely 'incel' to a grown human being.

    Man, high school is getting a lot of exceptions in these debates.

    Aebhel, it doesn't have to make you wince. :)

    Wade, your link is extremely incisive. I must dedicate time to reading it.

  8. Wade, good LORD the author of that article has an axe to grind.

    It starts off with good points but spirals down into a clumsy and pessimistic deconstruction of all of Western society. The author truly does have an axe to grind.

  9. I had to stop about 4 paragraphs into that article, where the author goes "if smart kids were really unpopular because all of the other kids envied them, then girls would have been 'broken ranks' and hung out with the smart kids." Apparently girls can be neither kids nor smart, and they just exist to shower affection on whatever males they deem worthy. I think I have read something by this guy before; is he the one that argues that schools never teach students anything and really smart people are too cool for school?

    On a more positive note, nice post Holly!

  10. Off Topic!!

  11. Wade - The problem with that article is that it starts off with a false assumption--that smart kids are unpopular. My observation, even in high school, is that smartness and popularity are totally separate, and a smart kid with social skills will be popular while a dumb awkward kid will sit at the loser table.

    And the whole thing where girls aren't also kids with their own troubles and concerns and place on the ladder.

    And I really refuse to throw my lot in with anyone who things everything was just wonderful in the ill-defined Ren Fest "past," back before we had all these gol-darn technologies and life expectancies and child labor laws.

    Anon - Yep. Fuck Helen Gurley Brown.

  12. Awesome, thanks. The most helpful point to me was "Try to be average." I've gone a long time not questioning my assumption that I have to be extraordinary to be worth anyone's time or attention at all.

  13. Some thoughts based on what I did in my twenties to get better about shyness:

    * Practice being polite and friendly in your necessary interactions. If it's too daunting to go out and try to be social, start small by smiling at the people you already have to interact with, thanking them when they help you, and wishing them well. This doesn't mean "hit on cashiers and waiters who can't walk away" - that kind of interaction needs to be free on all sides - but there's no reason that you can't all be a little happier.

    * Find a niche. Again, it's about the small steps. Living in NYC, I tried to go out to nightclubs and had a miserable time because everyone else had a great time and I was completely ignored. And I kept going for a while, because I thought that that's what people with social lives did. Then I decided I'd rather spend a Friday night gaming with a bunch of fellow geeks at the local university gaming club than ordering an overpriced cocktail and hoping someone would talk to me.

    * Be optimistic. Count successes, not failures; if you have a good conversation with a stranger, that's a win even if you never see that person again. (This one seems especially important for dealing with potentially non-platonic reactions; it's all to easy to regard anything less than "hooking up" or "getting digits" as a failure.)

    * Cultivate your reserves. Find something that makes you happy that doesn't need anything else, and use that to keep your spirits up when you need it. For me, this was setting aside a night with a couple of movies picked up from the indie video store and some good pizza, or going to a concert and just listening to the music. It was hard not to tell myself that these sorts of fun aren't inferior substitutes for being more social, but even so it still helped me avoid getting too depressed.

    And a few nitpicks on Holly's list:

    * "Be average" - with my shyness, there's no way I could have taken this advice as anything but "don't stand out." And that was the absolute worst thing I could have done, because I couldn't pass as normal very well but trying to changed the impression from "I'm interesting, you want to get to know me" to "I'm weird, I don't fit in."

    * "Fake it 'til you make it" - I hate this phrase because I always read it as "don't ever admit you have problems"--that the facade has to be up 24/7 or it's no good.

    I think that really, this comes down to the fact that each of us had a different path to social acceptance. I didn't have trouble with making random statements that put people off; instead, my "self-control" was always dialed up to 11 and I never said anything at all.

  14. The Paul Graham article - seen it before, can't stand it. It's geek entitlement of the worst sort, a form of Nice Guy(tm) that's generalized to all social interaction, what with the grading people's popularity, the "good-looking and athletic people have it easy" (I was captain of my high school swim team and that didn't keep me from eating lunch alone in the library every day), and the "they *should* like me because I'm not shallow like they are" attitudes.

    I much prefer the "Five Geek Social Fallacies" article at .

  15. Aw, crap, Blogspot doesn't like the traditional angle-bracket citation for URLs. That should be

  16. A couple things you forgot:
    1. Humor may be distancing, particularly if people don't understand it. Snarky wordplay, in jokes, yes Python are all great. But they can erect barriers between people. Particularly if people don't understand the humor, they tend to believe you're making fun of them. This means they don't like you.
    2. Politics, religion, sex, race. Are all highly-charged and divisive topics. As a fiscal conservative/social liberal, I can annoy people from across the political spectrum, and vice versa. A bunch of people at work love to bash libertarians in the lunchroom. I think they're boors, but I shut up. It's best to be very careful with these topics.

  17. JPF - Those are all good points. I put in "be average" because my own problem (and one I've seen in some other people) was not just shyness but the idea that people would notice me if I was really loud and different--they notice, but they don't like it.

    I don't think the Geek Social Fallacies entirely explain and encompass geekdom, but I've definitely seen them in action--most toxically in kinky groups where no one has the nerve to ostracize inappropriate creeps.

  18. I have to chime in about the drawing metaphor!

    Drawing is not purely a skill you learn and practice to get better at. Some people are naturally inclined to it, and will do much better, and get better faster, than others with a similar amount of learning and practice.

    The best artists have a mixture of talent AND technique. Technique without talent produces something incredibly dull and lifeless. Talent without technique is ultimately more interesting, but can quickly lose its charm if one rests on their laurels.

    The same goes for social skills (most things, really). That is not to say that those without the instinct for it shouldn't bother working on it if it's something they want to be better at, but that there are some very real limitations in place and it's not always as simple as just keeping at it.

    Also, I could well be missing your point entirely, but a large part of the reason I consider certain people my close friends is because I CAN let my guard down around them.

    1. @ Sidna
      I think the drawing methapher is fine. I think technique CAN kind of fake natural talent! When you assume that you always will have a lack of social skill you will have, because youre less motivated to train hard. I dont have much "natural talent" in musical "embodiment" for example. But I have a great analytic ear. And with ambitious training on my violin, Im now (almost) a professional classical musician! I needed good teachers for good rational explanation for adequate interpretation of music. I did have great feelings with hearing and performing classical music before, but with the help of intellectual and rational understanding and training I also got an idea and skill to FEEL, whats adequate to musical style. Not only that I do understand (more or less - Im still learning) how to perform in an adequate style but really want to do so!
      And I think, thats quite comparable to social skills. Its a question of motivation, which can only come up with the persuasion to be able to. The ability is not the same as the ability of the "natural talented", but I think, it can beat theirs the pants of. If the nerds would be as ambitious (not compative in picking up!) to social skills as to programming, I think, the world would be a much better place!

  19. Sidna - Honestly, I don't know anything about drawing. But I've noticed in various arts that things I thought were all talent turned out to have a huge component of learned technique--in silversmithing, for example, elaborate textures that I thought were sculpted freehand turn out to be made with techniques that are almost mechanical. Although you still need talent to execute these techniques correctly and in appropriate places.

    Maybe "let your guard down" is a poor phrasing--what I mean is that you shouldn't be annoying or inconsiderate around your friends, even if they tolerate it. I've found that since I started working on social skills, I've actually been a lot better at dealing with my friends and family--I'm not uptight around them, but I'm better at being direct with them and at respecting their needs.

  20. What if you can't tell what is awkward? Or you can't help being so overwhelmed in social situations that you start flapping your hands or rocking? should you apologize and explain or let people just assume whatever?

  21. Anon - If you're to the point of flapping your hands and rocking, it might be a good idea to see a therapist if you can afford it. That's social anxiety on the medical level.

    As for telling what's awkward, it's all about other people's reactions. If they smile, laugh, lean in, or respond excitedly, you are not being awkward; if they grimace, look away, fall silent, or leave the conversation, then things are super awkward. There's a lot of trial and error here.

  22. The "fake it 'til you make it" one is one I honestly love. I went through life as a pretty socially awkward person, and in truth I still am. But slowly but surely - starting in late high school and continuing through college and beyond - I started approaching social situations like "What would a confident, cool, likable person do in this scenario?" And then doing that thing.

    Which sounds stupid, but... it actually works. Inside I was still scared and shy and just sure that any minute now the people around me would remember that I was a loser that it was ok to pick on... and yet people were smiling at me, and laughing at my jokes, and inviting me to join them for stuff. It was so weird!

    ...And then a friend of mine (someone I actually look up to as impossibly cooler than I'll ever be) told me she envied me, because of my confidence and social skills.

    That's about the point where I realized... we're all kinda muddling through. And the people who I'm feeling so intimidated by are, half the time, also nervous and worried that people won't like them. At that point, you realize social interaction is a cooperative venture - "we both want this conversation to go well! Let's work on making that happen" - rather than a competition, and it all gets easier after that.

  23. Holly said: "
    Maybe "let your guard down" is a poor phrasing--what I mean is that you shouldn't be annoying or inconsiderate around your friends, even if they tolerate it. I've found that since I started working on social skills, I've actually been a lot better at dealing with my friends and family--I'm not uptight around them, but I'm better at being direct with them and at respecting their needs."

    Which is completely different from "don't let your guard down." Not just poor phrasing. If you mean "don't be inconsiderate," then say that.

    Mary said: "That's about the point where I realized... we're all kinda muddling through. And the people who I'm feeling so intimidated by are, half the time, also nervous and worried that people won't like them. At that point, you realize social interaction is a cooperative venture - 'we both want this conversation to go well! Let's work on making that happen' - rather than a competition, and it all gets easier after that."

    And that is a lot different from the "fake it 'til you make it" presented in the OP. The OP gives the impression that everybody BUT THE AWKWARD PERSON is completely normal and doesn't have any of these thoughts or feelings.

    My general comment on the article: I'm quite awkward. I have worked and do work on being a genial, polite person to be around. I also prefer to hang out with people who are also awkward in their own ways and/or don't care about social awkwardness. It's taken some time and some luck and a lot of pain to get here, but it's worth it. I'd rather have fun times with my weirdos than observe and copy behaviours just so somebody, anybody, will like the picture I'm presenting. The thought of doing that until the picture *is* me? Supremely distressing and kind of gross.

    If giving the impression I got is not the intent of the OP, the OP needs to be seriously rewritten.

    1. It think, it depends of the kind of awkwardness and weirdiness (does this word exist - I'm German) we're talking about! And to how many people its scary, funny or likable. For example mocking beeing insane. If it's likable only to one person it's already all fine (kind of social skill in the friendship between "awkward people"). If it's only funny to some people youre a clown. If it's neither funny nor likable to anyone, you do have a serious problem. To understand and take account of the social situation, in which you perform or you are "beeing youself" is already effectual social skill!

  24. Flapping and rocking are not signs of clinical social anxiety (as it is defined in the DSM IV). They may be autistic-spectrum signs, specifically 'stimming' (self-soothing). I don't think you should be apologetic or feel bad, but maybe be open to fielding questions if they come up.

  25. What the last anonymous said. If you can't tell what's awkward and you flap and rock as a response to stress, you should get assessed for an autism spectrum disorder ASAP.

    I found a lot of this post helpful, but the idea that disclosing Asperger's syndrome is "making excuses for one's awkwardness" is incredibly offensive and ableist, although you're correct that disclosing doesn't make people like a person better. Excuses are, by implication, not justified. Asperger's syndrome is a valid reason for social awkwardness, not an excuse.

    Also, people with Asperger's, and even those with subclinical autistic traits, have innate difficulty learning social skills to an extent that the original post fails to acknowledge. Social skills ARE partly a matter of talent. If you can figure out what behaviour is awkward, can always identify when someone is done talking by "following along", and can accurately observe and reliably replicate the behaviour of socially skilled people, and you didn't have to work way, way harder at those things than your peers, you're probably neurotypical. However, a lot of geeks aren't neurotypical, and therefore are not learning social skills on a level playing field with everyone else.

    So, the tips you gave are quite helpful, but unfortunately they are written from a perspective that erases the experiences of the people who need them the most.

    1. Ja, people on the autism and schizophrenia spectra will struggle with this. Natural social skills are, from the perspective of phenomenological psychiatrists, to some extent innate, a manifestation of "embodied understanding," that goes beyond simply knowing rules either implicitly or explicitly. (I don't think they're saying, though, that there is no place for social skills and rules, only that there is a natural understanding that neurotypical people have in social situations.) On the autism and schizophrenia spectra there is often a "lack of natural evidence," in which this "embodied understanding" is diminished and patients have to rely on trying to figure things out and use rules, both implicitly and explicitly, and indeed clinicians find they put a lot of mental effort into trying to figure things out socially, but it does not make up for the "lack of natural evidence," as described in this study (linked to by tinyurl; you'll have to sign up to download the paper, but it's free):

  26. @kisekileia
    The fact, that he mentioned Asperger's Syndrome made me google and in the German wikipedia entry I found a perfect description of my life. That blewed me away! I wont take it as an excuse and I think I dont have a very strong version but this self-diagnose will lead me to look for help and to deal with it - THANK YOU!

  27. It kind of pisses me off that you're equating Asperger's Syndrome/autism with an "excuse" for being awkward. Since most of your blog is awesome, this sticks out as especially fucked up. I think people on the autistic spectrum - like me - should disclose MORE so that people stop assuming we're all completely helpless and unable to self-advocate (and if you don't think people believe this, check out most conventional "autism awareness" sites, particularly Autism Speaks, the Wal-Mart of autism charities).
    I'm commenting as "anonymous" because i haven't yet joined the site. My signature, included as part of the comment, is M. Klein.

    1. After literally years of dragging my feet on this point... yeah, you're right, and I cut that part.

  28. Something about the "Clean Up!" point really hit me hard. I have severe depression and BPD, and it triggered all sorts of bad feelings for me to read that. It's very hard to keep yourself 'presentable' when you're just trying to not kill yourself, or get through the day without crying, self-harming, or attacking someone. I like a lot of what I've read of yours, but not that. Not at all. That hurt.

    1. I have no idea if you'll read this, but I have to say people will cut you more slack than you think for this. I only recently learned to brush my hair, washing it happens less than it should, and yet people still want to be around me (I think). But I'm learning, and being clean and brushed at the start of a day makes me feel better.

      Tbh, if you brush your teeth once a day and wash more than once a week, you can let the other stuff go for now.

    2. Hi anonymous from another anonymous,

      Please understand that that section wasn't, I'm sure, meant as an attack on you! I know when you're depressed it's easy to take everything you hear and say in the worst possible way, but that section does *not* say "Ha ha, you suck." It simply means "If there's something simple you can do to improve your appearance, try to do it, even if it's small."

      But don't miss the last sentence: "People know what you can and can't help, and putting in effort where you can counts for a lot." Emphasis on the WHERE YOU CAN. In your case, it sounds as though you have a perfectly legitimate reason for not meeting normal standards of 'presentable', and most people you talk to should know that already and won't judge you for it. As a random commenter I'm in no position to give advice on depression (if you haven't sought professional help already, please do!), except to say that in such a situation your appearance should *not* be your main concern. If you're just getting through life on a day to day basis, you should feel proud enough of that, and try not to worry about anything else.

  29. I'm way late to the party, but I feel (given the site rule, "No racist, homophobic, fat-phobic, transphobic, classist, ableist, or other hateful bullshit either") that it might have been well-advised to note that the linked site displays some fat-phobia (in the same article, "For some people improving their appearance can have a drastic effect on their social lives. As an example, several times I've heard anecdotes from people regarding the impact of losing a lot of weight. Rightly or wrongly, when they got in better shape everyone started treating them much, much better," cited uncritically as a direct causal relationship despite the later statement and plausible alternate explanation, "If you took two outwardly identical guys, but one was insecure and had a lot of other issues, and the other was self-assured, happy and confident, they would come across as quite different from each other. They would carry themselves differently and wear different expressions on their faces. One would literally be better looking than the other." It also displays ableism or at least a degree of disability-cluelessness when talking about fitness. I'm also not sure that claims like, "Take a lesbian who comes out at 22, and who's never really dated before, aside from some highly half-hearted attempts to go out with boys in high school. When she does start dating, in a way she's a 14-year-old. She's just beginning to experience and find her feet in a world that your average person started on in middle school," are neutral or LGBT-positive.

    Generally, a slight warning that off-site links, even recommended ones, may be more representative of a somewhat less supportive general cultural environment than the safer space provided on this site.