Antisocial Networking

Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference starts today. Many of my cow-orkers were already heading up to the city yesterday to finish preparing for it (or so their tweets said), and also to hang out with each other and with their friends in the developer community.

I always feel like an outsider during WWDC. I don’t know people in the developer community, I don’t go to the after-hours gatherings at the conference (neither parties nor bars are my thing), and most of my interaction with attendees at the conference is helping people in the labs. (This is rewarding in its way, but not exactly a good way to get to know people.) So I’m envious of my cow-orkers who look forward to WWDC with enthusiasm, since it seems like I ought to be able to share in that enthusiasm, but I can’t.

I’ve felt similarly in other communities where it seems like I should fit in, too. I never really connected at all in the comic book community (other than hanging out and shooting the shit at my local store on Wednesday), and I often felt like an outsider in science fiction fandom, too, despite going to many conventions in my 20s. Most of my fannish friends I didn’t connect with specifically through science fiction, but in other ways, and my main interests in science fiction – hard and far-future SF – seem like a pretty small niche (as media SF and fantasy have come to dominate the field). It seems like there should be some community where I can talk with people who are also into my kind of science fiction, but I’m not really even sure what such a group would look like.

I have rarely felt like a member of a community in my life. I don’t think I’m very good at it. (I’m reminded me Batman saying, on the founding of the Justice League in the cartoon version, “I’m not much of a people person.”) I’ve always been a fairly inwardly-turned personality (my mom once described me as “self-entertaining”), although I do have many friends and I seem to be one of the more gregarious people in the office. By and large I seem to be outgoing around people I know, and not around people I don’t.

As far as WWDC goes, I wish I could get into it as much as some of my cow-orkers do, since it’s something I attend every year as part of my job, so it might as well be fun, too. But however everyone else is enjoying it, doing the same is something that eludes me. (And yes, I know not everyone from Apple to work at WWDC enjoys it like those folks do. Perhaps I’m focusing excessively on a particular group rather than the norm, I don’t know.)

While I’m usually perfectly fine with feeling like an outsider, WWDC week is one of the few times that it gets to me.

3 thoughts on “Antisocial Networking”

  1. I feel the same way. I enjoy WWDC and the chance to see people I don’t otherwise get to see, but I’m not a member of the developer community – I wasn’t even when I was a member, yaknowwhatimean? – and so the social/party aspect has long passed me by.

    I tend to not enjoy “theme communities”; it seems to be even more important to me to be comfortable around people. I get there by being able to interact with friends on several levels, and book clubs and the like seem to require more time than I have to get to know people as well as I require.

  2. Speaking from the other side of WWDC, I know exactly what you mean. I like seeing people who I don’t get to see otherwise, but I’m not terribly plugged into the developer community. I don’t feel like I’m very good at being a member of the community, either. :/

  3. I think it’s fundamentally okay to not be a “group” person. Some of us just don’t do well in larger groups, or don’t feel the need to “belong” quite as strongly.

    The one year I went to WWDC as an Apple representative, I spent nearly all my time in the labs, even when I wasn’t on the schedule. I had such a great time helping all those people (yes, even the crazy and rude ones). One-on-one interaction seems to generally be my preferred mode.

    On being a member of the “community” – I sort of missed that boat. When I started working at Apple, the “developer community” was in kind of a bad space. By the time I came back for round two, there was a whole new group of folks I didn’t know.

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