Sully posits that The Gay eventually gives one a more acute ability to see through façades and bullshit:

Daniel Mendelsohn reflects on the way being gay, with its frequent “knowingness and irony and the sense of access to special codes and secret knowledge,” has impacted his sensibility as a critic…

As Daniel notes, when you know you are different, especially in your teens, you keep very careful tabs on what is regarded as “normal.” You become obsessed with giving nothing away. You have to develop much sharper skills of human observation, and learn how to mimic what comes easily to others.

In a follow-up, he posted a reader comment that pretty much sums up how my gayness led to me becoming so good at spotting bullshit.  Most importantly, the reader also points out what a double-edged sword this “talent” can be:

[Your post] is totally true. My friends in high school would always ask me to mimic other people because I was so freakishly observant.

But as I’ve gotten older I’ve found it’s become a problem. Always watching everything from the outside and picking it apart results in me being very self conscious in social situations, like I’m always assuming everyone is doing that to me. At a recent wedding, for example, I was deeply terrified to give a best man speech even though I’m an actor and have performed on stage countless times. It’s not just shyness; it’s more a hyper-awareness of how each person in a room is gonna perceive me. I wish I could just turn that off.

For those who like totally obscure literary references, this phenomenon  is roughly equivalent to seeing the fanciful fnord.

Fnord is the typographic representation of disinformation or irrelevant information intending to misdirect…   Under the Illuminati program, children in grade school are taught to be unable to consciously see the word “fnord”. For the rest of their lives, every appearance of the word subconsciously generates a feeling of uneasiness and confusion, and prevents rational consideration of the subject..  fnord is not the actual word used for this task, but merely a substitute, since most readers would be unable to see the actual word…

To see the fnords means to be unaffected by the supposed hypnotic power of the word or, more loosely, of other fighting words. A more common expression of the concept would be “to read between the lines.” The term may also be used to refer to the experience of becoming aware of a phenomenon’s ubiquity after first observing it.

  1. ” The computer is your friend, it can do no wrong. If you think that the computer has made a mistake you must be a hippy, commie, …..” Paranoia. A 1980’s game.

    • Matmos says:

      Paranoia is being reissued by a new company these days. Oddly enough, I sent in some writing samples to the original publishing company, West End Games, either when they were in Honesdale PA, or when they had a storefront in Scranton PA (if I remember correctly). They didn’t hire me, but I did get a complete set of the Ghostbusters manuals and modules.

      I think this both dates me and outs me, all in one sentence.

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