Do I Know You? – Don Charisma’s Mini Guide To Social Retards

It’s one of those social questions that gets my back up. Until I’d read my Keith Johnstone book, I didn’t really have a way to explain why I detest this question. Now I’m half way through the book, I have a better understanding of my objections.

“Do I Know You?”

Well first off, take the question logically there is only two answers – “Yes” or “No” … Not really the basis of a conversation,  a yes/no question.

It’s also an indirect question. The questioner implies they want you to explain yourself. It’s usually in the context that you’ve made an attempt at a friendly communication to them, and they are asking you to justify yourself. So it should probably read more like this

“Who the F*** are you?”

Worded like that my answer would be “Who the F*** are you?”, or perhaps “Go F*** yourself for talking to me like that”

(check out Eddie Izzard’s “Death Star Canteen” sketch, starts with “the game of ‘who the F*** are you?’ ” … does contain bad language and satire, so don’t watch if you dislike either of these)

Now why would this cause offence to me ?

Well first off, asking me to justify myself straight off the bat isn’t very friendly. Keith Johnstone introduces very early on the concept of “status” in virtually all human interactions. Subtly, and aware or not we’re all always establishing a pecking order. We play high or low status to suit the context. “Do I know you?” is a high status question. It also implies passing responsibility, which is another high status move – “I’m far above remembering whether or not I know you you peon, you tell me, you entertain me, dance monkey dance for me”

Now playing high status straight off the bat is probably defensive, and implies hostility. It’s also competitive, like the person wants to establish high status right from the get go, setting an initial precedent and boundary, FIRST, before you get the chance.

I may or may not elaborate on Keith’s “status” model later, I think it’s a very useful concept 🙂

Also why not be friendly :-

“Hi I noticed you’re following my blog, I’d like to get to know you a little, I blog because I like talking about food/movies/writing, why do you blog ?”

“Hey, always happy to meet new people, I’m Don, be glad to get to know you. How have you found WordPress for making friends ?”

Playing a little low or lower status, is the same as humility. If you are actually important person, famous etc, it shows that you can be on the level with people who aren’t high status like you are. Also continuing to play high status all the time, will make people want to attack you, we respect ourselves, so that’s normal. The rationale, is that actually people aren’t above or below each other, we’re equals. We all also want respect, young and old, rich and poor …

So I don’t like “Do I know you?” … because :

Firstly it implies that the asker is more important, has higher status than me. And believe me they don’t.

Secondly it’s defensive (and competitive), and REALLY you want to be defensive from the get go, *REALLY* – doesn’t say much for any ongoing relationship that you have no humility or that you’re just a frightened person, clinging to an illusion of superiority.

Thirdly, why, oh why, can’t you just ask the same question in a friendly way.

Forthly, it seems the person wants to play the “Who the f*** are you” game, I mean come on that’s school-yard stuff surely, a pissing competition ?

Fithly, you are so high status that you want to risk not making friends by starting off with a high status challenge, you truly are a moron, I can’t believe that you actually have many friends.

Lastly, for me it pegs the person as not actually socially savvy, but actually a social retard. And very very hard for them to ever recover in my eyes from such a moronic social faux pas. Has been done, but rare, very rare that there’s ever any kind of friendship or relationship developed out of such as hostile first contact.

And lastly lastly, my high status reply – “No. Goodbye” … “No I don’t want to play dick measuring with you, mine is longer than yours, considerably so, see ya !”


Don Charisma

Resources & Sources

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46 thoughts on “Do I Know You? – Don Charisma’s Mini Guide To Social Retards

  1. The whole concept of Oneness for some is very threatening for their ego and also the notion we are mere players on the stage. With all the big ego’s, it is surprising Will Shakespeare didn’t get lost in the dark over the ages. Keep shinning your light Don.

    “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts, his acts being seven ages.” ~Shakespeare

    1. Nice bit of Shakespeare hun, and thanks for deciphering him for me, I usually last a couple of paragraphs and then I’m totally lost 🙂 … I’m not totally as yet converted to oneness, there’s some I do definitely want to keep a safe distance from …

      1. Yes i am speaking only of ultimate reality were we are One energy. Thou at this level we are a paradox, as we have separated into matter. Anyway my knowing this keeps me humble and from trying to separate myself too much from others. I could easily become a Darth Vader if I did not have this awareness.

      2. For sure hun, I’ve fairly much on the same page … I think we all have a little yoda and a little darth … I try and steer myself towards yoda, same as you 🙂

      3. Yes and I have found the more Yoda like i become, the more those who are like Darth Vader attack me, so I tend to operate more under the radar these days. I don’t have the energy for such battles… thou sometimes there is no choice in the matter. Without some of the battle of light and dark life would be pretty boring I guess.

      4. For sure, I think we need to accept both sides of ourselves and personally I save the light for myself and my loved ones, friends and deserving acquaintances … I think this is somewhere along the lines of a peaceful warrior, as I see him (or her) …

  2. Oops! I think I have used this line in person, never intending to one-up anyone, just trying to figure out why a face seems familiar. I’ve worked so many part time jobs, some in retail where you see hundreds of people a day, and I often can’t place what seems like a face I’ve seen, but where? So now I’ll soften that line a bit, maybe, “I think we know each other, could it be from XXX?” Thanks for the view from the other side of that question.

    1. You’re welcome hun, and it’s been interesting to get different perspectives as always … it depends on the context and softening it a little if we’re genuinely trying to be helpful and friendly doesn’t hurt …

  3. Smh because last weekend we were at the dog park and it took me some time to figure out if one of the other owners was one of my daughter’s friends, or if she only looked like her. It turns out that it was her, but I didn’t know until we saw her car on the way out. She had a new boyfriend, his child, his dog, and was almost unrecognizable to me in her demeanor. If she recognized us, she didn’t give an indication. Just a bit awkward. So next time I’ll try a friendly “how are you?” That should open it up.

  4. An interesting topic and post I enjoyed, Don. Thanks.

    I wonder if anyone has asked that as a genuine question, when asked in an encounter in person. I guess to me it would depend on the facial expression, whether he’s smiling, and tone of voice, etc. I don’t recall ever using “Do I know you?” myself, thankfully, and anyway to me a better and more polite question would be “Have we met? You look familiar.” or something like that.

    1. I’ve had the “have we met?” or “You look familiar” before, sometimes people will use it to try to fake rapport, other times it’s genuine … “Do I know you?” in person, yeah would entirely depend on context, facial expressions etc, so that would be judged on it’s own merits, although I’d still be erring to the side of a status challange with someone who said it deadpan, no smile and it was the first thing that came out of their mouth … check the other commenters for better comebacks to that one than mine !

  5. Hi there.
    I understand what you mean with this agression feeling, but I am actually somebody who needs to KNOW why and I have to admit I often ask this question. I can say Im not somebody who’s proud of myself or think about myself as higher than anyone else… It’s just that you want to know who’s making this contact with you. It’s like people adding you on Facebook but not leaving any message and you really think “who the F*** is this…?”. I generally don’t accept this kind of invitations. The online world is very vast and we can’t make contact with everybody…but at least with people sharing the same interests, and that’s what blogs are all about!

    I just wanted to give another point of view to this conversation. 😉 Take care!

    1. Well, just ignore the person then … also facebook I believe allows so that people can’t friend you, only you can friend them … if you’re running a business, then you can setup a facebook page, randoms can follow you there …

      You probably know all of this and more about FB than I do, so does really leave me wondering why you need to know ?

      Also with the blog we’re following each other’s feeds not “friends” in the facebook sense, and anyone with a RSS reader and an internet connection can do that, anonymously if they want to … so “Do I know you” is even less friendly is this context, and not only implies a lack of social savvy’ness but also a technical lack of understanding of how it works …

      I do appreciate other points of view, two other commenters already gave me two additional come backs to the “Do I know you” which I’ll add to my toolkit 🙂

  6. ‘Do I know you ?’ is what I would call a ‘ passive aggressive’ expression as it can sound innocent enough even reasonable (passive) but it also deliberately stabs ( aggressive) to put you off guard leaving you feeling that you do not know what you are dealing with.! Its very manipulative.

  7. Funny post! I usually tell such people to remember that they have to sit to take a crap the same way everybody else does…phht! 😉

  8. I was introduced to a guy at a school event and when I didn’t gush over him he asked me “Do you know who I am?”

    I was like….no? He was basically a local version if Phil from Modern Family except a drunken jerk version. A was a Realtor with his picture plastered on his SUV… I like the analysis of your post and immediately thought of the question in reverse. 🙂

    1. Sure, so he thinks he’s a big shot, when in actual fact he’s nothing special … well nothing at all actually … and wants to try to manipulate you into believing the lies he tells to himself … well done you for having a firm sense of your own reality 🙂

  9. Great read. Love the analysis on this very simple phrase! Believe it or not, I have used it before, but mainly back in the day on Facebook. Usually with those people who try to follow you with having no shared friends.

    Maybe I should have been more polite haha.

    1. Sure … I’ve seen it more often on FB, but generally it’s saying the same thing … and I’ve had the nuisance people that will friend and then be “a nuisance” on FB … generally there’s politer more friendly ways to handle it 🙂 … Elizabeth has given a golden comeback, so I’ll give that a try next time !

  10. Ha! This your least favorite social question, it’s always been my favorite. I’ve always said the same thing to these people. Look them in the eyes, smile a little and say, “I hardly think so.” It throws the ball right back at them. Can’t stand this crap of being higher or lower than someone else. People may be more or less successful in different aspects of their lives, but no one is higher or lower. We’re all just human animals and as you say, equal. Great post, Don. I enjoyed reading it. 🙂

    1. Thanks Elizabeth, as for giving an alternate reply, very catty indeed and yes throws the egg right back on their face … I’d love to see that in action actually, the face drop, the eyes looking around for a suitable response … in the best cases, that sinking feeling of having the rug having been pulled out from under … magic !

      Generally I try to keep the status thing on the level, but have been known to go either way on it … depends on the scenario 🙂

  11. Oh this article is SO right up my street! MAAAN it peeves me to the extreme when people put themselves above others. It comes through in so so many ways right. You have explained it awfully well Sir. Another thing that peeves me is when people put ME above themselves. (WHY???) THAT just send shivers down me – because they invariable then treat you like you are beyond their reach and that you are always sitting in judgement of them. Thereby creating this ‘relationship’ where everything you say will be taken as either an instruction or criticism. Grrrr. Have been thinking about this so so much lately. (always do really I guess)

    (I can JUST imagine where this may come from which, I am sorry to say – gives me a giggle at how I imagine you responding to folk who do that – both inwardly and outwardly)
    When folk do that to me: outwardly I keep the humility and politeness – but inwardly I have notched that little ‘note to self’ – and I lay it down and walk on yeah. I also occasionally feel like punching them in their snooty faces 😉 …in particular when I see them doing it to other people?

    1. For sure hun … I think it’s mainly something to be paying atttention to … people can also do the opposite and play low status the whole time, can be disconcerting … generally I try to match, bring up low status players and drop high status players down a notch or two … we all do this … it’s a skill the socially savvy have down, even though they probably couldn’t explain how they do it …

      1. I think you likely have hit the nail on the head with the ‘can’t tell you how they do it’ — yeah—-
        Oh well – forever socially inept then hey. lol!

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