Thursday, March 24, 2011
The Creepiness Conundrum (Part 1): The Accidental Creep
I am fascinated by the label ‘creepy.’
Mostly I am fascinated by the Accidental Creeps in our midst: the decent people with good intentions that come off the wrong way.
I know a guy like this and it bugs me. He’s good-looking, well-dressed, loyal. But something about him causes people’s hairs to stand up. I can’t figure it out.
It’s hard to explain a feeling. And that’s what’s so frustrating about ‘good-faith creepiness.’ I don’t know why he give off the vibe he does. But it’s unmistakeable.
Creepiness seems to be mostly a male problem. I don’t know if it’s because women are better at being not-creepy or if we guys don’t have as finally tuned creep-radars. I’ve met creepy women, but they are unquestionably a distinct minority.
Other things I’ve noticed:
- Creepiness is often in the eye of the beholder. Some people seem to have more sensitive creep radars than other. Which to me, leads to the big tragedy of Accidental Creepers…
- A lot of creepy people don’t realize they’re being creepy. They aren’t trying to weird people out. In fact, often they have good intentions. But it happens anyway.
- There is a stigma around the word ‘creepy.’ Sometimes it's used deliberately to insult someone. But when it isn‘t, the stigma around the word means both the creepy and the creeped are often reluctant to address the subject. It’s awkward to tell someone their behavior is putting you off. But that’s the one person who most needs to know. Similarly, when the word is used to describe us, it’s hard not to react defensively or take it personally.
- Creepiness is situation specific. That is, people who don’t generally come off as creepy can give off creepy-vibe in some circumstances. Similarly, folks who often come off as creepy don’t ALWAYS come off creepy.
To me, that’s a hopeful sign.
Yes, it’s a downer to realize all of us are capable of being creepy (sometimes even without realizing it), but it also means that creepy is something people do not something that people are. Maybe it will help us move away from using the label carelessly. It might also help those of us who have had the word thrown at us keep from taking it as a reflection on us as a person.
In the end though, as with everything the power is in our hands. No one will do it for us.
Which is why in Part 2 of the Creepiness Conundrum we’re going to look at some of the behaviors that result in creepiness and antidotes to them. In the meantime, consider trying the following Practice.
1 - Think about what makes a person creepy. Think of specific instances where you have been creeped out by someone else‘s behavior. How did you react? What specifically made the situation awkward? What could have made things turn out differently?
2 - Think of a time when you creeped somebody out. What happened there? Did you realize what was going on at the time? How did you feel when you realized you were being creepy? Who else was there? How did they react? How did you feel?
3 - Are there times in your life when you have felt like you were being creepy even though no one else commented on it? What were the circumstances?
-May All Beings Be Sexy
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