Self-Assessment 1


I recently articulated to myself, for the first time, a conversational habit I engage in frequently.  It is demonstrated by this recent gchat conversation with my friend Nick Krefting.  We were talking about Achewood and how the author used to post comics daily, but now they are barely a weekly trickle:

NK: i just really hope he’s not getting sick of his characters

NM: yeah, that’d be really bad
Well, he’s entitled to declare himself done with Achewood.  But better that than drag it out.

NK: or that, if that were the case, he would muster up enough effort to give them a proper send off before moving on to something even more brilliant and moving

NM: right
like Michael Jordan and basketball

This habit of mine is to show my understanding of a concept by providing an example that fits the pattern but is obviously or ludicrously wrong.  In showing that I know what the subject is not, I show that I’m on the same page with whomever I’m talking to.

[My line of thinking in this instance was: “What is an example of someone great at something who quit at the height of his powers, but what he chose to do next was the opposite of brilliant and moving?  Ah, Michael Jordan’s baseball career.”]

On multiple occasions, however, this habit causes serious confusion.  The person doesn’t know what the hell I’m talking about, the train of the conversation violently T-bones my attempt at rapport, awkwardness is strewn about the crash site, and we quickly search for a new topic of conversation.

The question I’m posing to whomever reads this and feels like responding is: is this habit just obnoxious, or does it contain comedic potential if the chosen example is a good one?

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6 thoughts on “Self-Assessment 1

  1. krefted

    I’m always looking for funny things to come out of people’s mouths when I talk to them, so I’m almost always in favor of this type of behavior. Plus, there is a certain “Mirra-ness” to these kinds of comments, and just like Glenn Beck and his rational arguments, you wouldn’t quite be the same person without them.

    Reply
    1. nmirra Post author

      I’m glad to see this habit, which I suspect may be annoying, is a defining characteristic of mine. Yeah, I enjoy doing this with some friends (like yourself), because it usually leads to extended riffing. I guess I’m wondering if this is a niche sense of humor, or even more narrowly, a joke that needs to be explained before it can be enjoyed by most people.

      Reply
  2. zack

    it’s not a good joke if it needs to be explained, i think, but there is an exception to this rule: setting precedent. mirra, you have put in your time doing these ‘lame-ologies’. my favorite ones are when you say it and then there is that brief pause, and i can see that look on your face, and it is clear to both of us that you just tried a slam dunk but the ball bounced off the front of the rim, traveled all the way down the court, and swished into your own basket

    Reply
    1. nmirra Post author

      Which is, in its own way, impressive. But if the person I’m talking to doesn’t understand the game, it doesn’t matter which hoop the ball goes through.

      Reply
  3. zack

    this also made me think of the phenomenon of ‘instant messaging wit’ which is the basis of my online persona. in real conversation, if you aren’t witty immediately, you lose your shot. on gmail, you get that extra 10 seconds to think, and you can become functionally witty to teh receiver of the message, because they don’t know how long it took you to see their message and think of the joke.

    unfortunately, the only cure is to recede into the internet, lose all ‘face-to-face’ personality, and finally marry a robot

    Reply
    1. nmirra Post author

      Interesting point. I’m a fan of the related phenomenon of gchat “no, you go.” It’s where people stop typing because they see the other person “entering text.” So then both people have “entered text” and now somebody has to say, “no, you go” by erasing what they typed entirely.

      Reply

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