Blending in isn’t as hard you you’d think

By » Sat, January 14 2012
553228194 7c0921abfb 450x342 Blending in isnt as hard you youd think

That's not a squirrel. That's Friedrich Fucking Nietzsche. (img by Richard Giddins)

Just ask Abe Liu, a guy who was not a student at Harvard but had lots of people convinced that he was. Liu doesn’t appear to have had any real malicious intent, he was just lonely and found himself telling lies on top of lies to maintain the fiction that he was a freshman-dorm resident at the school.

He lived the life of a Harvard student for months without attracting substantial attention, until the memes began and turned into a psychotic whirlwind in the hours before Primal Scream.

There are a few ways we can go with this.

One, people in American society are generally wired for trust. We see a guy who looks a little old for a freshman dorm hanging around the dorms, we start figuring he just started college late. We see a guy wearing an orange vest or a hard hat and assume he’s a maintenance guy. For the most part, that’s fine. We can’t suspect everyone, and it’s actually a little difficult for your average person to recognize hinky behavior. So keep your eyes open.

Two… well, it’s just the flip side of the last point. It’s pretty easy to blend in, either with a crowd or with a specific group, like Liu did. And I think it’s a valuable exercise to try it. I’m not saying go to your local college and get into a dorm or anything, but pick something low-risk like joining a tour group in your town or trying to appear to be part of a group of people in the park.

The hardest part of blending into groups of people, for me, is getting over a lot of conditioning. I’m an introverted guy. I don’t like breaking in on other people’s groups. I’ve been trained to be polite, to be aware of the people around me, to watch for the other guy. My instinct is to make room for a group to get past rather than pop into the middle of it and school along.

I suspect I’m not the only one. So get out and blend with some groups, get comfortable going to strange places that maybe you’re not supposed to be in. If you’ve got some time, tell me about it in the comments.

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