boxofdelights: (Default)
[personal profile] boxofdelights
Here are two good writeups of this panel:

http://www.bladeandcrown.com/blog/2014/05/30/wiscon-part-1-social-isolation/

http://firecat.dreamwidth.org/843353.html

This was a good panel, well-prepared and well-run, yet still frustrating in all the topics it opened up but didn't have time to explore. [personal profile] firecat wanted more analysis of the politics of what makes people more likely to be socially isolated. I wanted more brainstorming of strategies and tactics to break out of isolation. There we were, a room full of people, most of whom had experience with social isolation and attempts to break out of it. I wanted to know, what techniques have you tried? How did that work for you? How did it fail?

--Volunteering is a common suggestion. What if your social isolation is exacerbated by Chronic Fatigue Syndrome? Have you found a way to volunteer that works with unpredictable energy levels? What about if volunteering triggers your Imposter Syndrome? What about if you have already spent enough of your one wild and precious life among people who are only willing to tolerate you as long as you provide a service and don't ask for anything in return?

--Gaming works very well for some people as a low-stakes social activity with explicit rules and roles. What if competition gives you intolerable levels of anxiety? Are there cooperative games that work in this context?

--First Wiscon Dinner works for some people. What if you have to work around food allergies or difficulties with communication or mobility? What if you would really like to share a meal with up to four people, but more than that is kind of terrible? Have you found a way to say, I like you all, but could we split into two smaller groups?

And so on.


I'm pretty sure the story I told at that panel (went to another con that was billed as small and inclusive, could not persuade anyone to share a meal with me, even when I was armed with restaurant reviews and bus schedules; on the last night of the con, I gave up and went down to the hotel restaurant. After I had been seated but before my food was served, all the other people who hadn't found a better option came down as a group, and were seated as a group, and ate as a group. Next to my table. I have often wondered whether it is possible to literally die of embarrassment) managed to convey how terrible that felt, but I don't remember whether I ever got to the point of telling that story, which was: if you ever feel that terrible, you can talk to me.


Someone in the audience at this panel (who also attended the con that was terrible for me) offered to share a meal with me when I was lonely. And then she followed up and checked in with me from time to time for the rest of the con. That felt so good. I don't know how to solve the problem of how to get enough social credit in the first place, so you can tell your story and have people respond with kindness, but if you can find someone to do mutual checking-in with, it is a great comfort.

Date: 2014-06-24 04:03 pm (UTC)
sasha_feather: Toph and Katara from avatar: the last airbender cartoon (Toph and Katara)
From: [personal profile] sasha_feather
Thanks for your notes. WisCon is a place I've been able to practice being more outgoing, ie, going up to people and talking to them. Talking on panels and from the audience. It's helped me to just get this practice.

I like the idea of arranging meals for at-odds people on the paper message board or via social media. I think the con suite is also good for this, and the lobby; people can grab a meal and sit together.

Interesting to think about.

Date: 2014-06-25 05:43 am (UTC)
sasha_feather: Black, white, and red image of woman with futuristic helmet (Sci Fi Woman)
From: [personal profile] sasha_feather
Who is in charge of First Wiscon Dinner?

No one person is in charge of it. There's been a call for volunteers and people step up. There was some talk last year of making it a bit more organized, but I don't know what happened with that. I don't know that it needs to be super organized-- as you say, holding a sign up for a restaurant in the lobby could work fine. We could announce at Opening Ceremonies and on the website that this is "a thing". It might need a coordinator of some kind though.

Date: 2014-06-24 07:15 pm (UTC)
jiawen: (Default)
From: [personal profile] jiawen
Gaming doesn't have to be competitive, of course... I'm mainly thinking of RPGs here. But then, there may be the trepidation involved in knowing perhaps more complex rules. (Lots of RPGs have incredibly simple rules, but not everyone knows that.)

Do you do gaming? I seem to remember that you do, but my memory's not great.

And by the way, I wasn't checking up on you -- you seem like a genuinely cool person! I'm serious about trying to share a meal at a con sometime.

Date: 2014-06-24 11:28 pm (UTC)
magnetic_pole: (Default)
From: [personal profile] magnetic_pole
B, you write such fabulous posts I'd have a meal with you in a heartbeat!

I'm sorry it was such a hurtful experience but glad to hear you found someone this past time. M.

Date: 2014-06-27 07:57 pm (UTC)
jesse_the_k: John Watson regards the void looking puzzled with white puzzle piece floating above him (JW puzzled)
From: [personal profile] jesse_the_k
Thanks for this useful report. (I got claustrophobic before I heard your intro.)

This quote in particular: What about if you have already spent enough of your one wild and precious life among people who are only willing to tolerate you as long as you provide a service and don't ask for anything in return? resonated with me.

One of my issues when going out is noise level: most of the restaurants nearby are purposely lively (metal ceilings, stone flooring). It would be great if one could pick up a "picnic for four" meal and eat on the Capitol lawn (or in someone's hotel room).

The hotel dinner next to the Other Table made my stomach hurt just to read about it. I'm so sorry.

My favorite game-with-strangers is Euchre: it's so basic that one could verbally plan the Third World War while winning the card game.

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