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27 May 2010 @ 09:29 am
what do you think when you think about me?  
This has come up in several conversations in the past week, so now it's time to make it official by discussing it on the internet:

I both think and talk about people in my life when they're not in the room, both in positive terms (Wow, she's so awesome, and blah blah blah) and negative ones (Boy, it was lame when he blah blah blah). I do this a lot. I enjoy thinking and talking about people when they're not around, and I like thinking that people are thinking about me when I'm not around. I figure some of what people think/talk about regarding me is good, and some is bad, and some is complicated and etc, because that's life and relationships, right?

But it's become clear that lots of people think that people either don't think/talk about them when they're not around, or they kind of theoretically know that people must but are surprised when direct evidence brings it to their attention (Oh, yeah, I was talking about you with so-and-so the other day ...).

So, what about you? Do you think about people talking or thinking about you when you're not around? Does it surprise you to imagine it? Does it make you happy or uncomfortable or nosy or what? When you imagine it, do you imagine people focusing on good things about you or bad things or some middle ground?
I'm feeling: curiouscurious
fanwfanw on May 27th, 2010 01:35 pm (UTC)
Huh. I guess I don't generally expect people to talk about me when I'm not around. Not because I wouldn't like that, but because I just figure if I'm out of people's daily lives there are fewer reasons to pop into someone's head.

I hope occasionally someone walks by True Grounds or the old house and thinks of me, but mostly I figure I won't be back in the minds eye till I'm back in Boston.
Elizabeth Hunterlillibet on May 27th, 2010 01:46 pm (UTC)
Wow. So wrong. Thanks to your interesting and thought-provocative posts, I think of you often and probably mention you to someone at least once a week. I also think of you in connection with Ari, who pops into my head around theatre stuff pretty frequently--someone reminds me of him, or I think how great he'd be for a role and then I'm thinking about your wedding or one of the great dinners we had and...

So, yeah, wrong :)
Elizabeth Hunterlillibet on May 27th, 2010 01:50 pm (UTC)
I don't particularly think of people talking about me, but I assume that they do. I certainly talk about other people all the time. On the other hand, I try to remember that other people are busy about their own stories and probably not paying a huge amount of attention to me.

As to whether what people say is good or bad, I figure that's probably more to do with them than with me--their mood, their take on what I'm doing, their tastes in people and behavior and such. I don't live my life based on what other people might be saying about me--well, except when I'm directing, in which case I'm directly producing work that I hope will reach/please/excite/provoke its intended audience.
Jonathan Woodwardwoodwardiocom on May 27th, 2010 01:55 pm (UTC)
I do, in fact, tend to be surprised when I learn that people have been talking about me. Since I generally hear that they've been saying nice things, it generally makes me happy. (And when it's not-so-nice, well, it's generally got some basis in fact.)
Mizarchivist: Mirrormaskmizarchivist on May 27th, 2010 01:57 pm (UTC)
Not that long ago after spending several minutes criticizing someone not there and then realized how much I'd hate it if someone talked about me that way. Then I wondered what particularly they'd criticize. Then I wanted to climb under a rock.

I hope people think/talk of me when I'm not around and more hope that it's not about the Gr/blah that I am/do.

Nope. Not neurotic. Not me.
Jonathan Woodwardwoodwardiocom on May 27th, 2010 03:12 pm (UTC)
You get talked about around our household, as you might guess. Nothing negative within recent memory...
(no subject) - debsquared on May 28th, 2010 12:41 am (UTC) (Expand)
born from jets!!!: brainscatness on May 27th, 2010 02:09 pm (UTC)
I assume that people with whom I have some reasonable amount of regular involvement will talk about me when there's some reason to, good or bad. People think, people talk, people have opinions. Some of these thoughts/conversations/opinions are about me, some of them are not, some of them are more colored by their experience in life rather than objective, and some can be incredibly accurate with or without objectivity. I have pretty much never lost any sleep or peace of mind about that, unless I have done something REALLY DUMB. :)

Because of my public performing life, however, there is some expectation of strangers talking about me as well, along with my abilities and attractiveness. It's creepy, but it's part of living a public life.

Also, pretty much all my good stories are about things OTHER people have done. So my friends and their lives are a living part of almost every day for me, even if I haven't seen them for awhile. I talk and talk and talk about them. Even to people who don't know them. ;)

Edited at 2010-05-27 02:11 pm (UTC)
vito_excalibur on May 27th, 2010 02:10 pm (UTC)
I assume people don't talk about me much. Not because I'm particularly unmemorable, just because people tend to be occupied with their own business.
Kcatkcatalyst on May 27th, 2010 04:03 pm (UTC)
But often our business is relaying particularly funny or pointed things someone else has said, in order to spread the awesome. You figure highly in that practice.
porpurina: air travelbloodstones on May 27th, 2010 02:42 pm (UTC)
Even now, nearly 10 years out, there is a strong community in boston from my college, and it remains connected to people living elsewhere as well. I talk about them and I know that they talk about me because when I talk to someone I haven't talked to in awhile they know how school is going, or they know about my grandmother's surgery. It makes me happy that this happens because it means I'm still connected there. I know that it's not always good, but even the bad things aren't 'we hate her', they're 'we're worried that she's making a terrible decision' or 'she's crazy, but she's still *our* crazy' and I'm okay with that.

Edited at 2010-05-27 02:42 pm (UTC)
Rowan: Springmzrowan on May 27th, 2010 02:47 pm (UTC)
I feel that this kind of talk is part of building and maintaining community, even though it can be harmful sometimes when inaccurate (negative) stories or opinions are passed around. As you know, I'm also a big fan of engaging in the process.

As to how it relates to me personally, even though I've been burned by the "hearsay" aspect, the attention-starved child in me still hopes that people are talking about me when I'm not around. I obviously prefer that their opinions are positive, or at least neutral, rather than negative; but negative talk is still somehow better than no talk at all. I guess some part of me prefers being reviled to being forgotten. ;-)
The Hebrew Hammercockhammercock on May 27th, 2010 06:54 pm (UTC)
"The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about." - Oscar Wilde

Coscos on May 27th, 2010 02:54 pm (UTC)
I assume people do, I don't know how often, I don't think I know what they say except when someone tells me, and when someone does tell me I'm not surprised at the fact that people were talking about me but I am curious to hear what they were saying. Over the years I have found out some of the themes that come up perhaps commonly. Some of them bug me because they're inaccurate, others make sense.
lazyzlazyz on May 27th, 2010 03:17 pm (UTC)
Interesting question. I imagine people talk about me behind my back but i can only imagine what they say. A lot of people know me and i suppose plenty of them focus on my many flaws, esp. my kids. It is just one of those things,shouldn't let it bother me because it is out of my control.
lazyzlazyz on May 27th, 2010 03:26 pm (UTC)
Also, i tend to talk about people behind their backs. If it is someone i do not like, say i have perceived them as acting badly, i can be pretty harsh. I protect and defend those i love. Anyone who is nasty to them gets scathed. As an older woman, i know i can tell the truth. Who cares.
(no subject) - aroraborealis on May 27th, 2010 03:27 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Misanthropic extrovertdbang on May 27th, 2010 03:26 pm (UTC)
I assume that
1) not very many people talk about me because there aren't very many people to whom I am important, and I'm pretty dull otherwise
2) there ARE people (family, close friends, people in Mosaic) who do talk about me because I am an active force in their lives
3) most of what they talk about when I'm not there is negative, because the positive stuff can be discussed when i AM there

I have no idea if my assumptions are correct!

I would love to know what people say about me, but it would probably cause me some pain to hear it. Given a choice though I'd still choose to know.
catcatya on May 27th, 2010 04:35 pm (UTC)
this is about where i usually sit.

right now i have a lot of weird feelings about people talking about my divorce in particular, but i'm not sure how to articulate that.
(no subject) - keyne on May 27th, 2010 04:53 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - lillibet on May 27th, 2010 06:01 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - dbang on May 27th, 2010 07:52 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Rowan: Springmzrowan on May 27th, 2010 03:31 pm (UTC)
It's interesting to me that a lot of commenters are discussing this in terms of "negative" or "positive" talk, and not thinking about talk that is neither of those. I know a lot of the talking I do is along the lines of, "Oh, did you hear that x and y broke up?" "Yeah, isn't that sad!" "I wonder what the issue was." "Well, I heard that [insert non-blaming speculation here]". I don't see that as either "negative" or "positive".

It's also interesting to me to see who assumes that all talk that takes place without the subject present must be negative.
ruthless compassion: thinkyaroraborealis on May 27th, 2010 03:43 pm (UTC)
Yes, I agree! A huge amount of the thinking/talking I do about people is more about information sharing or exploring ideas or defining relationships or discussing events, etc, which is neither positive nor negative.

Of course, I also talk both positively and negatively about people's actions/choices/behaviors, and probably spend more time on the negative stuff in part because I typically see there being more to learn/work through on those things than on the things people do well or right.
shiny object detector: grippenk on May 27th, 2010 04:00 pm (UTC)
I have an almost paralyzing fear that makes me think that EVERYONE is talking about me, and in ways they'd prefer me not to hear. I know how paranoid and egotistical it is, and I'm far better about it than I used to be, but I still twitch when I learn of backchannel conversation about me that I'm not privy to.

It does'nt matter if it's positive or negative, informational or tangential - "Oh, I heard that you had x happen" makes me sit up and go "someone was talking about me. I wonder who it was?"

heinleinfanheinleinfan on May 27th, 2010 04:16 pm (UTC)

The huge majority of my brain tells me that no one is talking about me, at all, ever, for good or bad, as I am worthless and unimportant and I matter to know one.

Another part of my brain says that everyone is, all the time, and it's all bad, and about how much I suck.

On the extraordinarily rare occasions that I hear of people that were talking about me, and on the even rarer occasions that it was in a good way, I am completely flustered and do a lot of "what? really? d'awww....*blushing*" because I can't believe people would think nice things about me.

Not because the people wouldn't think nice things, but just the 'about me' part.

But, this is the brain that is actively trying to kill me so I'm trying to learn to ignore it.

And on a related, though slightly different note...when I have found myself in "good" conversations with someone, about someone, I try to share that with the someone that was being talked about. Not sharing secrets, that's a huge no-no, but like...say I'm talking with (and this will have no context for most people, but should be follow-able) another raid leader in my WoW guild about a particular member who is Good People or has great performance, etc, I try to make sure that person who was being discussed hears about it. I try to make a point of finding them and going "Hey, [other raid leader] and I were talking about you the other day and how you did in the raid, and [insert the good stuff that was said.]"

Mostly because...well, many people do like to know they were being talked about in a positive way, and often don't hear it, and might have brains like mine that tell them it doesn't happen...so I just like to let them know when it does.

David Policardpolicar on May 27th, 2010 04:16 pm (UTC)
I expect that people talk about me when I'm not around, to more or less the same degree and in the same way that I observe those people talking about others in each others' absence.

For some people, that means I expect they are very critical of me in my absence. For others, that they sing my praises. For others, that they trade logistical gossip. For others, that they talk about themselves in relation to me. For others, that I don't come up at all. For others, that it varies. Etc.

That said, emotionally I find the question fraught. When I am off-center and ungrounded (which is much of the time), it's very easy for me to start feeling that everyone thinks horrible things about me that they will never admit to no matter how I ask, and that all of my relationships are essentially deceptive in this way.

I've gotten better over the years at sitting with that feeling until it goes away, but I've still got a long road ahead of me.
Plan for Pandemoniumroozle on May 27th, 2010 08:22 pm (UTC)

When I hear people badmouthing others, I wonder (in an unpleasant sort of way) what they say about me when I'm not around. When I hear people who speak well of people or at least try to give the benefit of the doubt, I think I will also get the same regard from them.