Wednesday, 22 April 2009

How to Survive Social Interactions in Oxford part 2

photo by: Arkadyevna

I know someone who regularly uses this social tool in group situations:

When someone is in the middle of telling a story or giving an opinion and everyone else is listening, this person will single out one of the listeners and ask loudly whether he or she has read X (an obscure theorist, poet or novelist). The person who had the floor then becomes confused and offended, and the person who was asked the sudden question feels either flattered or embarrassed. Either way, everyone ends up abandoning the conversation to pay respect to this person's intellect and taste. That's just one of the ways of asserting control around here, of redirecting traffic your way. (I use my blog instead...control, control!)

4 comments:

Good Enough Woman said...

Very interesting specific example. An elite, intellectual version of what I call "mooking." Getting mooked is when you're at a party, and there is a fun, interesting conversation going on, and someone quite drunk singles you out to start talking about an emotional issue (usually related to a doomed relationship) and then usually starts to cry. Meanwhile, you have been hijacked away from the party fun. Now I can add a whole new kind of "mooking" to my list: Oxford Mooking.

Ink said...

1. Doesn't that kind of behavior make you want to smack the interrupter? (Very good of you to control yourself, AH).

2. Am glad to know that it has a name (nice, GEW!).

3. Mooking makes me mad.

Academic, Hopeful said...

I'd never heard of this 'mooking' business. That's hilarious. I experience versions of being mooked all the time and it's just painful. I am glad to have a word for it.

This is definitely a certain type of interruption that is more public and more about putting down the speaker (by randomly bringing up a very esoteric topic targetted at someone else, as if to say that speaker's topic is not clever enough).

And of course I want to smack down the interrupter! I am a fiery person by nature. But that's the problem. This is the first major social experience (at grad level!) for a lot of people here and so I feel like a cat with mice to paw in these situations. The insecurities of the interrupter are so transparent that I can't seem to trust myself to say something that is not multi-barbed. That and the fact that these are often 'fall apart when confronted' people (which tends to correlate with the childish interruptions). Also, I think that if I say something at all and they get upset, then I am then responsible for their personal growth.

But I am not sure I will last much longer...I will keep you informed.

naptimewriting said...

Oh, dear. Really. I'm with Ink in the urge to smack. I think I'd have to say, even more loudly, "maybe after X finishes her story we can all discuss esoteric literature," and nudge the original speaker with a "Go on, then." Because I'm in desperate love with confrontation, smacking pretentious dolts, and making everyone else think that someone finally has the back of the little guy.
All that bluster aside, I've never experienced this particular social faux pas (been mooked, sure, but not for long because I hand them off with a "that sounds just awful; I heard Y just went through the same thing. Let me go find him." Andd then I leave the room.) Faced with your specific Oxcford form of social posing, I'm sure I'd freeze up and spend my opportunity for retaliation feeling stupid that I hadn't read the esoteric lit (or seen the snooty film) in question.
Sigh. Clearly I must strike Oxford off my list...