My Friends are Obsessed, and I’m Not – Geek Advice

Dear Pink Hair Girl,Recently a bunch of my friends started playing Warhammer 40k, and for months it’s been the only thing they want to talk about. I tried to get into it, I even bought an army and had them try to teach me the basics. But after a couple games, I realized it just wasn’t that fun to me. Normally, that’s fine, but the thing is that even when we get together just to hang out, it’s all they ever talk about with each other. Even during a UT LAN party, they broke off and nearly started a game of 40k! I felt like I had to jump through hoops just to get them to come back to play with me.  Obviously I’m not invited to tournaments they do, or when they get together to play casually. I get left out of almost every single conversation because I know nothing about it. Not only do I feel completely left out, it’s starting to not be fun to hang around them. How do I get my friends back?

Sincerely,
Mr. MuckinAbout

Dear Mr. M,

Is there a guy in the group who’s really into painting his army? Yeah. I date that guy in our group. And I know. I know what you’re thinking; Guys who play 40K don’t have girlfriends. And that’s true. I’m just a figment of his imagination. But as an imaginary girlfriend, who doesn’t play 40K (And yeah, even made-up girlfriends aren’t playing Warhammer!), I’ve sat in the middle of countless conversations with friends where they might as well be speaking a different language.  I feel like Harry Potter walking into Diagon Alley for the first time, being told I need to buy a Turkish Massage Owl with a magical chocolate money system, except without the wicked scar on my forehead to prove I was a formidable baby.  I’m sure you’ve felt this way too.

The thing is that these sorts of obsessive moments among friends happen all the time. We’re geeks. To ‘geek out’ basically means to talk obsesively about something in far too much detail, sometimes not realizing that others around you are totally lost. I bet if you think back, there are plenty of moments where you and your friends were totally obsessed with an MMO, or FPS, or Tabletop RPG. And you had a ball geeking out about that stuff with them.  But this time, it just so happens that what the group is geeking over, is something you’re not into.

But there is hope! Some of this advice means just being patient, and the rest of it is up to you. Some Tips:

 

  • This too shall pass – Chances are that this will be a fad among your friends for a while, and then it will sort of taper off. Remember the times you all as a group obsessed about Everquest / D&D / Rainbow Six? You still like those things but they’re not the focus of the group anymore. Yes, for a few months they’re going to talk about The Latest Thing non-stop, because they’ve found something new and exciting and it’s awesome. Why should they STOP talking about it? Ever? Well, because eventually it’ll stop being the new thing. Yes, they’ll keep playing it for years probably, and resurgences of constant talking about it will happen anytime Games Workshop releases something new. But be patient, and eventually, the number of times a day 40K pops into the conversation will wind down to a minimum. Just like other hobbies you do as a group ebb and flow. The trouble is, there’s no telling how long it might take for it to this particular game to get old, or for something shinier to replace it, but eventually this will be happen.  In the meantime though…
  • NO SELF PITY – Whatever you do, do NOT go facebaiting, twattering, or making comments out loud about how much it sucks to be you right now. Resist the urge to make underhanded comments about the game, or worse, about your friends, and how no one likes you or cares what you say. I know this might feel like a good way to make them realize they’re leaving you out, but it actually has the opposite effect, and here’s why: A friend’s job is not to make you happy. A friend’s job is to BE happy. That means, the best way to be a friend is to be someone people want to hang around and enjoy themselves with.  Self-pity kills this in two ways. First by acting negative, you’re not fulfilling your job of being fun to hang around. And second, it inherently states that you are entitled to having your friends make sure you’re having fun (which is the opposite of true).  This one is tough to hear, but believe it or not, if you’re friends are having fun playing Warhammer, they’re fulfilling that role of being fun friends. Accusing them of otherwise is only going to push them away and make them want to not be around you. Your frustration is coming from the fact that you’re not having fun, so what’s the right way to vent this and make yourself heard?
  • Tell a bro what’s up – Choose a friend you feel most comfortable talking to one on one and let him know what’s going through your head. It’s important not accuse him (or any friend for that matter) of leaving you out. Remember, they’re doing the right thing. But if along the way, you’re bummed and feel left out, tell a close friend, in private that you’re not having fun when everything in the group is centered around 40K.  Of course, don’t ask your friend to fix this problem for you, don’t ask him to play it less or convince the others not to talk about it so often. Just make sure someone knows you’re side of the story, so that way when your friends do notice that you’re not as involved in the group as they’re used to, at least someone understands why, and doesn’t just think you’re a total cranky-pants.  And to prove you’re not a total cranky-pants, this next part is really important.
  • Keep yourself busy – Do fun things on your own. Get yourself a brand new hobby, try some new games, have some new shit to say to them that you’re excited about, so that when there is a lull in Warhammer talk, you’ll have something fun to add.  And if they’re cool with it, ask to tag along to some tournaments and game days. Make sure you have something to do, bring a book / laptop / iPad / New-Shiny-Gadget-that-might-lure-them-to-your-corner-for-a-moment, and just chill. Make sure that bro of yours knows that when you sit in the corner with your laptop, you’re not ignoring everyone, you’d actually just rather be playing Plants VS Zombies with everyone around instead of playing it alone at home. And when they break for food, go with them and see if you can’t get them talking about the new stuff you’re into.  Also, you may notice your friends’ imaginary significant others at these events too. Strike up some conversations with them!   Yeah, it’s kinda lame to be doing one thing when everyone else is doing another, but it’s way better than moping around at home by yourself. Another way to remedy this:
  • Schedule some 1-on-1 time – Ask one friend to come with you to a movie, or to grab food, or go to the comic shop. Hang out with your friends one on one, because they’re less likely to talk to you about 40K, since that’s not something you do with them. They’ll have to spend time thinking about and talking about other stuff with you. This works great, because you’ll have new experiences to come back to the group with later.  Just make sure you’re pro-active about this. You’re going to have to be the one to bite the bullet and extend the invitations. Which brings me to my last tip.
  • http://mercurygirls.tumblr.com/

    Move it along – Don’t be waiting for your friends to come up with fun things to do. Remember, it’s your job to be having fun, not their job to be showing you a good time. That way, if for some bizarre reason, your group of friends does become a single minded cult of Spess Marines, you’re already a fun dude who’s well on his way to meeting other people and being a fun guy who they wanna spend time with. And when they do wanna hang out with you again, they know where to find you.

So, dear reader, you go out there and you buy yourself that Turkish Massage Owl, don’t go waiting on Hagar the Horrible to do it for you. You are Harry P, the grown up magical version of a mighty un-smiteable baby. The universe and all of reality bends to your will and rests in your hands like a baby bird for which you show mercy.  Seriously, just go out and start having some fun.

If you’ve got a snag in your social life, cramping your g33k style, feel free to ask me for some advice!
Write to pinkhairgirl@g33kwatch.com.

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Pink Hair Girl

After her DNA was spliced with that of a jelly fish, Olivia became known to all as Pink Hair Girl. She also gives advice to geeks all around the world.

6 Comments:

  1. oh good gracious it really is a turkish massage owl. thank you mercury girls. thank you. oh yeah and good points! 🙂

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  2. No no… you’re in the right with this one. I’m not sure what this article would be without the Turkish Massage Owl.

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  3. But bro, Warhammer is the shit!

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  4. So I think you missed one thing, though it may already have been assumed as a pre-step to getting to the point the person asking the question was in. You really need to apply a bit of effort to learn something about what your friends are geeking out about. Its the age old addage of try it, you might like it. There are things that my friends were really in to that I didn’t know about but thought looked entirely uninteresting that upon learning about them I found I really was interested. Other things I never really got interested in but they at least became a bit more tolerable. I think the worst you can do to yourself is decide you don’t like something before you could ever possibly know you don’t like it. Miss out on too many things that way.

    The other thought I had is that the most important point in this article, so important that its the meat of 2 of the bullet points, is that you are the one that is responsible for making yourself happy. I totally agree that if you are in a situation where your friends are obsessed with something that you know for sure you aren’t interested in just let them have thier time. Go do something awesome yourself and then invite the friends along. They are your friends because they have fun doing things with you, especially things you are having a ton of fun doing yourself, so its likely that they will bite on one of these invites and then you can geek out on your own terms.

    As always these advise columns are spot on and I really love reading them. I hope you keep this up in the long term 🙂

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  5. Awww shucks guys! Thanks!

    @Malfunct – Yeah, when the guy says he bought an army, that’s a commitment in itself, and playing a few games means HOURS of learning and playing. So I assumed he did give it a good go. But you’re right about that point, it is really important to actually try the thing your friends are all into before dismissing it. Sometimes it’s easy to get ahead of yourself and decide not to like something because it’s drawing your friends’ attention away from stuff you already love too. Gotta watch out for that.

    And I’m really glad you’re enjoying these! I have a few questions to cover and to keep me going for now, but I would really love more write-ins. Tell your friends!!! <3

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