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The thing is, if someone thinks you're a robot, can you actually convince them otherwise?


( 24 remarks — Remark )
Mar. 15th, 2015 11:01 pm (UTC)
Again, lots of talk from me with little reference.

Mm. I haven't had people tell me that I was a robot, but I've had a truly ridiculous number of people tell me that I wasn't human (and well into adulthood, when I'd hoped that kind of silliness would have gone away. I mean, I got over it, shouldn't everyone else?)

So I guess I wonder what one is trying to accomplish. Because it probably makes sense when it comes to things like civil rights and equal access to pizza, or something like that*. But in a personal relationship, if someone is either presuming that you are a robot or trying to put the onus of proving otherwise on you... um, this really sounds like their personal problem.

One of the things I eventually realized is that even the folks who phrased their conclusions about my not being human in admiring terms were generally setting up a dynamic in which they did not have to treat me with the kind of consideration they would give to their other friends, and yet they could put the responsibility for this difference in their behavior on me. ...and as it turns out, I'm a lot happier in relationships where there isn't some kind of underlying expectation that I should be apologetic for who I am.

* Okay, bad example, I'm allergic to most pizza.
Mar. 15th, 2015 11:12 pm (UTC)
One of the things I eventually realized is that even the folks who phrased their conclusions about my not being human in admiring terms were generally setting up a dynamic in which they did not have to treat me with the kind of consideration they would give to their other friends, and yet they could put the responsibility for this difference in their behavior on me. ...and as it turns out, I'm a lot happier in relationships where there isn't some kind of underlying expectation that I should be apologetic for who I am.

You are wise, and there is wisdom and generous helping of truth in this statement. I agree, and have found something similar in my life, though at the opposite end of the spectrum - I've been told repeatedly in relationship that I was "too much" - too angry, too emotional, my feelings were too big and messy. "Too much" is dismissive in the same way as "you're a robot" or "you're a space alien" are. A way of keeping distance and driving the other person to terminate the connection, instead of owning up and acknowledging one's actual feelings and claiming them.
Mar. 16th, 2015 01:24 am (UTC)
Mine wasn't always, maybe not even usually about not showing feelings, it was about not having the right feelings. I mean, I certainly got a bunch of push back because I insisted on discussing things in a fairly rational manner even when I was really pissed off. But an awful lot was about what things I liked doing for fun, and really caring about my work, and... really, I think a whole section came down to the insecurities of the people I was interacting with. (And sometimes different tastes. Really a lot of people have tried really hard to get me to spend time watching television with them, and mostly I just don't want to. Even when the shows are good.) And then a lot of non-overlaps in emotional response.

Oh, and ethics. Ungh. Which has mostly just been heartbreaking.
Mar. 16th, 2015 03:10 am (UTC)
Yeah, see below reply about emotional languages. I'm with you on this one. It sucks that being able to see that this is what's going on doesn't make it hurt less when it happens, though.
Mar. 16th, 2015 12:05 am (UTC)

It's interesting to hear how this resonates, and comforting to know I am not alone in my reaction. I wasn't called a robot per se, but wanted to think about things from that angle.

A friend whose friendship I eventually had to push away used to say she had no soul, which seems related somehow. For how she wished to live her life and who she wished to be, I guess that was okay for her, but I hit an abrupt point where I couldn't trust her anymore, which was very hard.

Mar. 16th, 2015 01:54 am (UTC)
I find your example of the friend who identified as having no soul interesting. (I don't have a strong opinion on the existence of souls - or even the definition thereof - but I find the identity and mythology questions pretty fascinating.) I'm not clear how the identity of no soul played into your pulling back - I mean, it sounds like there had to be a lot more going on.

But it seems to point towards two fracture points -

1) There are people who are essentially incompatible.

2) My previous statement about being asked to apologize for who I am is poorly bounded, because what is who I am vs. some I can choose not to be?

...and I only have a few heuristics. Mostly, arguments of the form "I am fairly normal, and you are a freak, so we should work from my expectations / context / whatever," are just incredibly problematic. (Though there's a counter example around words. Dear gods, people who have their own personal definitions of all kinds of words and use this as an argument winning technique are hopelessly tedious.) And people who think that I'm feeling the wrong thing and should be feeling something else... yeah, that's kind of a non starter. I mean, in fact, I can, over time, change a lot about what I feel, but that doesn't mean random folks get to post scores on the propriety of my feelings.
Mar. 16th, 2015 03:14 am (UTC)
Well, or demand that you SHOULD change just because you *can*. That's everyone's individual decision, and I've occasionally found a failure condition where being the more plastic of the people in a partnership meant that I was increasingly expected to accommodate their unreasonable demands, because it was easier for me to change me than it was for them to stop demanding. Nooooope! (And that's a big fight right there, where you say "sure, I could, but I don't want to". To them it's "you could help me but you won't, what kind of a heartless monster are you", to me it was "stop demanding that I give up pieces of myself and shape the direction of my self-determination in a direction pleasing to you, that is powerfully my choice and not yours". Ugh.)
Mar. 16th, 2015 11:57 am (UTC)
And yet, I am reminded of actual conversations in which it was posited that because I am better skilled at every piece of housework, and home and land maintenance then I should just do it because it's easier for me and I do it better. (Nope.)

Except for all the aggravation of the above, that's a relatively superficial matter.

(It is not helped, in either example, that I get off on being strong and competent, and don't generally think it appropriate to go throwing fits about asymmetries as long as it seems like everyone is making an effort. Which means these things can get kind of entrenched.)
Mar. 16th, 2015 02:30 pm (UTC)
I have to give the soulless friend at least some credit for being up-front about that aspect of who she is. While we were friends, she started dating my housemate but wasn't willing to be up front about the matter, and I had an inappropriate crush* on him at the time. I stopped feeling like I could trust either of them at that point, especially after I tried to have a, "What gives?" conversation with her and she couldn't say anything. I struggled for a long while (years?) with having to push both of them away so hard and so fast, wanting to figure out how forgiveness fit into that picture, but to a great extent I had to let go of the situation and seek friendships that felt more affirming of who I wanted to be. I got mighty irritated with the part of my personality that kept latching onto those inappropriate crushes, so it was time to let go of that and focus on being myself and bouncing around in the world.

*This is a thing my emotions do, where they latch onto someone that my rational side can say, "Oh honey, that's clearly never going to work even if it somehow gets off the ground," but my emotional side gets off on endlessly mooning around.
Mar. 16th, 2015 04:02 pm (UTC)
That sounds painfully complicated.

I value straightforwardness pretty highly. It's generally my term of favor in place of honesty because I am utterly sick of people rules lawyering about honesty (not in the least because at some level that makes sense to me, and that's just no where I want to be.) Though I have often spent long periods of time waiting to figure out whether there was some kind of cultural aspect I was missing, or if the person was just dicking with me. (Sometimes followed by deciding that I didn't care, the situation was dicking with me and I was removing myself to more healthy climes, fuck it.) I really like to understand these things. Sometimes that's not really where answers lie.
Mar. 16th, 2015 01:16 am (UTC)
memegarden once failed a turing test on a text-based VR: she was unable to convince a visitor that she wasn't a bot.
Mar. 16th, 2015 02:23 pm (UTC)
A part of me was thinking about Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? when I asked this question. That's a pretty concrete example, right there.
Mar. 16th, 2015 02:34 pm (UTC)
There's a good argument to be made that in the movie version there may not have actually been any humans left: everyone was a replicant. At that point, distinctions are based on power and social standing, as they always are.
Trickier, from the standpoint of the book.
I wonder if Dick wasn't talking about autism, as seen when he was writing.
Mar. 16th, 2015 02:41 pm (UTC)
Ahhh, now you've ruined the movie for me! Actually, not really. Haven't seen it, just read the book. :-D

Autism could certainly fit in. I was thinking this morning about an episode of This American Life where a woman figured out, after taking one of those online quizzes, that her husband was an undiagnosed autistic. They both said that figuring that out made a whole bunch of things click in their relationship dynamics.
Mar. 16th, 2015 04:07 pm (UTC)
Unusually for me, I find I must chime in with the comment that the movie is totally worth seeing. Like, it's as good as the book (or at least it was - I haven't seen it in some time, and I have changed.) And yet the relationship between the movie and the book is... really, really weird. I mean, there is some similarity in characters and background, and a lot more in theme, in a lot of ways, but you mostly want to go in with no expectations based on the book.
Mar. 17th, 2015 01:30 am (UTC)
They are about as different as they could be, and both are pretty amazing.

There's a bit of complexity in that there are at least four versions of the movie.
All have a completely amazing vision of the future. It's bedrock on which much of current scifi is based.
Mar. 17th, 2015 01:59 am (UTC)
I still haven't even seen the director's cut, so I'm nothing like a completest. (This is mostly a reflection on me generally not seeing a lot of movies. I've seen what I assume is the original theatrical release more than once, and love it lots.)
Mar. 17th, 2015 04:35 am (UTC)
Me too. I love every version, in a different way.
Mar. 16th, 2015 02:57 am (UTC)
Every time someone had said it to me, no. What they meant was "you are not reacting in my emotional language, and so I can only conclude that you don't have feelings". ("I can only conclude" is one of my personal red flags for "you are not going to change this person's mind and whatever they are about to say is the snakes in their head", but YMMV.) The only thing that has ever fixed that is time... sometimes they feel their feelings and have their grief and anger and move on, and then later can see that oh shit that was actually horrible for you too. They were just feeling so loudly themselves at the time that it was all they could perceive, and empathy showed up later in the ebb tide of their own experience.

Of course, being aware that this is happening doesn't make it any more pleasant when it is, and trying to explain it doesn't make one come off as any less of a robot/Spock/person without feelings/whatever their metaphor du jour is. It just sucks.
Mar. 16th, 2015 06:18 am (UTC)

I think this resonates most strongly with my experience of the situation. There's an emotional mismatch in place and I have seen a resolution phase before, but damn if it isn't completely emotionally exhausting and made that much harder by the long distance. Thank you.

Mar. 16th, 2015 06:33 pm (UTC)
A couple of notes that have been bouncing around in my head as to this dynamic:

For various reasons (mostly my own alienation issues growing up, and maybe a bit growing up in a very mixed cultural environment) it was often really easy for me to default to a mode where someone else's emotional language was accepted as the default, and mine was accepted as the abberation. Heck, part of it is just that I find how people think and feel about things to be fairly fascinating (this is part of the reason I like learning languages so much - I love that bit when I transition over to thinking in different shapes). But I sometimes wonder how much my own predisposition there tended to set up a dynamic where under stress well of course we're in their language - we've already agreed that's the real language real people speak, and I'm just weird, and do my best to get by as a second language speaker, right?

But I don't know, of course, because it's also just a thing people do under stress.

There's a lot of stuff about gender dynamics and affective labor in here. I think I've come to view my affective labor a lot like I view my cooking - it's a skill I've put a lot of time and effort into developing, and something I really enjoy using for the benefit of people I care about. But it's mine, and it is not something other people get to own or be entitled to. I am not emotional caretaker on tap, and my feelings are just as real as anyone else's. I might be more able to put things aside for a while - but if it starts being a pattern in an unbalanced way, I'm going to bring it up. (And if we can't talk about that in a productive way, well, really, my opinion of the other person is going to descend.)
Mar. 16th, 2015 01:42 pm (UTC)
I don't know but it is a painful situation to have your sense of identity opposed by someone else's sense of who you are. Once the person I had the most feelings for on earth called me "Cold" and the feeling was like OMG, that is so the opposite of how I see my own sense of self in relation to you.

I didn't try to change their mind really (well I don't remember, at some point maybe I wrote a letter). Because what can you do when you're hopelessly in love with someone and they think you are "cold"?

Edited at 2015-03-16 01:44 pm (UTC)
Mar. 16th, 2015 02:39 pm (UTC)
I think thewronghands is really articulating it well, in terms of different people using different emotional languages. I don't know how or if those languages can be reconciled. With S, on more than one occasion, I expressed my desire to commit to the relationship, and I think in the cases where there's that kind of mismatch it takes a lot of communication and renewal of the commitment to work on things and make them work, to the extent that any relationship ever works. I also think it's a point where community support can be crucial; something that's absent in long-distance relationships.

I am thinking I might want to read that book you wrote about a week or two ago, on sociopaths. It seems related somehow.
Mar. 16th, 2015 05:09 pm (UTC)
i am regularly called a robot! but i think most people eventually understand that i have strong emotions and a general aversion to expressing them verbally/cognitive inattention to the same. and then it's ok, or at least workable with some work. but if people say that and aren't interested in understanding, they are being selfish.
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