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 !”
Resources & Sources
Boy Pulling Face – morgueFile.com