So you’ve got a geeky social circle, and all is right with the world. You have a group of friends who “get” all the movie references, know how to make you laugh, and have the capacity to hold an interesting conversation about any topic. But wait – who is that coming through the door? Oh, no, it’s [name of That Person].
I think every geek circle has a That Person. You know, the person who shows up because they’re friends with someone in the group, and no one wants to (or is able to) make them go away. After all, you may know first-hand how much it sucks to be excluded, so you don’t want to pay those nasty feelings forwards. Still, it’s hard to have a good time when That Person is around, so here are some strategies for dealing with the different types of That Person.
This person lives in their own world and demands everyone abide by its rules. They have a particular schedule, a special set of favourite activities, and specific personal rituals. Those, in and of themselves, are fine. They only become a problem when everyone else in the group is expected to follow suit.
A person who behaves this way is having power issues. Maybe something happened to them that makes them want to assert control over everything in their life. Therefore, pushing them will only make them push back harder. Instead, allow them the opportunity to be in control of their own schedule. Make your plans as you will, and let them know ahead of time exactly what to expect. It’s up to them whether they want to come or not. If they say “But I want to do ______ instead,” then make plans for that at a later date. Someone who crashes the party still has options, only those options are Take It or Leave It.
KAWAII KAWAII GENKI DESU! This person has seen way too much anime, or so one might think. Actually, the Psychotaku is an explosive that only needed a trigger, and for them, that trigger was anime. It’s kind of like how there are violently protective “Twilight” fans, and that’s got nothing to do with “Twilight,” but rather there being something off-kilter about the person to begin with. The Psychotaku deeply identifies with an anime character (usually the cute annoying one), and doesn’t take “no” for an answer. Alternate versions may have the person trying to convince you they are a cat and/or psychic. In any case, the person will act hyper. They jump and glomp uninvited. They squee. They scream. They have violent reactions. And worst of all, they think it’s cute.
In mild cases, you can get them to tone it down by telling them (in a clear, assertive manner), that it is NOT cute or funny. However, in severe cases, this can backfire. Look at anime humour. The annoying character is considered funny BECAUSE they’re persistently annoying. Therefore, showing reactive annoyance may indulge them in their fantasy. In this case, they need a dose of reality that originates inside the anime itself. Tell them to think about how the other characters might feel towards Renge/Tomo/Haruhi/Azusa. Maybe then it will hit home that there is nothing loveable about being obnoxious. If all else fails, ignore them unless they’re using their normal voice and personality.
The Anime Girlfriend
The Anime Girlfriend (or boyfriend) is living in an equally warped reality as the Psychotaku. Rather than constantly pretending they ARE an anime character, they’re pretending to be dating one. If you dare speak badly of their “husbando” or “waifu,” they take it personally and argue as though their life depended on it. Even worse, if you say you appreciate the character, the Anime Girl/Boyfriend will get jealous and defend their fictitious partner. While it’s perfectly fine to like a character or ship a pairing, to get vicious over it is a whole other mess.
If at all possible, avoid mentioning the object of this person’s affection. If someone does accidentally mention the beloved character, you might get the Anime Girl/Boyfriend to tone down the squeeing by telling them to knock it off. As with the Psychotaku, this may be the reality check that stops the problem or it may make it worse. If it makes it worse, ask in all seriousness if you can come to their wedding. This might break the fantasy (by clueing the person in that, no, they’re not really marrying a fictional character). If that still doesn’t work, suggest that the person and their beloved go on a date. Like, right now. Somewhere far away. The person will either hold onto the fantasy by doing so (and going away!) or they’ll have to stop pretending for a while, thus giving everyone else a break.
For the Snob, it’s not enough to like something. You have to be hardcore dedicated or you’re nothing. Everyone in their world is either a True Fan or a Poseur, and the Snob does not hesitate in announcing who is who. For the people who have not memorized the speed and firepower of every type of ship within Starfleet, this can get tedious.
Because the Snob operates on a basis of Knowing More Than You, you might be able to stop them if you show them up. If by chance you know something about their choice series that they don’t, recite it, and they’ll be forced to drop their campaign (or, otherwise, admit that some people know more than they do). However, if a person is that obsessed, they will probably know more than everyone else in the room. In which case, change the subject to something at which they’re not an expert. They can’t lord over their kingdom if they’re not in it. If that fails, then tell the person that you have your own way of appreciating the series and their patronizing talk is offensive to you. A Snob sees him/herself as a dignified, valiant knight of information. They won’t pick on someone who has already given up the fight. They will probably get in one last dig at your inferior knowledge base, but let them have the last word. That’s what they really want, and once they get it, they’ll stop.
In any case, That Person can be dealt with by explaining that sometimes you want to be with just a few friends. Each combination of people has its own dynamic, and the whole group doesn’t always have to hang out together. Note that this only works if you ARE willing to include them sometimes. This works for the Friend Who Is Annoying At Times. If you’re dealing instead with someone who you truly never want to see again, then make it clear to your friends that, when making plans, the invite is exclusive and does not include a “plus one.”