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Prints Charming

I'm a 20-something guy with a hobby of taking pictures of myself with female friends. Nobody objected in high school, and collecting memories of girls who were kind to me brought me comfort, since girls rarely talk to me. Now, in the workplace, everything’s complicated. Although some friendly female co-workers agreed to be in my photos, someone complained, and my supervisor said I could be fired for sexual harassment. I was depressed, and lonelier than ever, then I discovered volunteering. I began asking to photograph some of the female volunteers; some, near strangers, but 60 years from now, will I care? The following week, the coordinator said I was making other volunteers uncomfortable. She asked me to delete the photos, but I only pretended to because I’d done nothing wrong -- I’m just a normal guy taking photos with female friends. Now she says I can’t bring my camera to future events. How do I continue without getting in trouble?


“I’m just a normal guy who enjoys collecting fingernail clippings to remember women who’ve been nice to me. Uh…‘Scuse me, ma’am. I know you don’t know me, but would you mind if I took a swab of your DNA?”

Quit kidding yourself. You aren’t making friends, you’re gathering specimens. You call this a “hobby of taking pictures,” and refer to yourself as “just a normal guy.” Sorry, but “normal” is going home to a wife or girlfriend, not a picture of a girl sitting next to you at a bus stop in college. And I say this as somebody who’s quick to precede “normal” with “boringly,” and who sees “everybody’s doing it” as no reason everybody else should be doing it, too. The problem is, women don’t find your behavior normal, they find it creepy. Sure, maybe they agree to be in the picture, but probably a good many of them picture it as a prelude to ending up in a 55-gallon drum in your garage.

If you like being a loner, fine. Go live with the grizzlies. Otherwise, cut the charade. Alleviating loneliness with pictures of people is like giving a homeless guy a picture of a cheeseburger, and telling him, “I’ll be back later with a picture of an apartment!” Your problem isn’t that you might get rejected but that you absolutely refuse to be. Yes, but what if some girl laughs at you or tells you to bug off? What if? Ball lightning will not rise from the floor tile and reduce you to a pile of ash. Lock up the camera and make yourself talk to 100 people, men and women, and you’ll see. It’s really pretty simple. Express interest. Ask people about themselves, and not just if they’d mind standing a little more to the left.

This little program is sure to start out hard and unfun. But, is being blown off, or the mere prospect of it, really so devastating that it’s less painful to sentence yourself to 60-plus years of creeping over photos of the life you wish you’d had? There are some real dorks out there who have wives, friends, and girlfriends (some, all at the same time). The difference between you and them? They had the guts to try to mouth-breathe their way into the girls’ lives. If you’re going to try, you’d better hop to it. Creepy at 23 can be adorably awkward, and is probably fixable. Creepy at 43 is probably permanent, which isn’t to say there’s no hope for friends or girlfriends -- providing you aren’t too lazy to inflate them.

Posted by aalkon at November 21, 2007 12:12 AM


It could be worse.
He could be photographing himself with inflatable sex dolls that he didn't, um, date.

Posted by: Gog_Magog_Carpet_Reclaimers at November 20, 2007 10:47 PM

Hilariously, there was one serviceman (a Stars and Stripes reader) who either didn't get what I wrote or was in need of attention, and sent these long diatribes to, apparently, his entire e-mail box, about how the guy just needed to be directed to a photography club. I explained that he wasn't into photography, but into avoiding life, and photography was just the means, blah, blah, blah. I looked later at some of the addresses when one of the numerous people he sent it to dropped me an e-mail, and noticed Colin Powell was on the list! Like the guy doesn't have better uses for his attention!

Posted by: Amy Alkon [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 21, 2007 12:41 AM

I can recommend online dating. You can either sit and wait for contacts or you can initiate them yourself. If you don't succeed, you can change what you're doing or how you're doing it. It's all from the comfort of your own home (or workplace if you can get away with it). You will learn a bit about yourself. If you have the bottle, you can leave the comfort of your own home to actually meet those females face-to-face over a coffee and size each other up. If you live in a city you will make so many contacts you will need a card index to keep track of them; and each one is a learning experience.

Bottom line: either stay depressed, lonely, and getting older, (and weirder!) or do something to change it. This one's free: http://www.plentyoffish.com/.

Posted by: Norman at November 21, 2007 1:55 AM

PS Delete the photos. They will come back and bite you.

Posted by: Norman at November 21, 2007 1:56 AM

The 55-gallon drum in the garage was what came to my mind too, and I have a high tolerance for antisocial weirdos.

Posted by: Little Shiva at November 21, 2007 4:32 AM

Amy did such a good job of answering this one. Wasn't too harsh, and yet clearly identified the issue and offered good, sound, USEFUL advice.
I hope for this young man's sake that he takes it; who knows, this might be the turning point for him in his life when he realizes that LIVING his life, uh, is the point.

Posted by: Beth at November 21, 2007 5:59 AM

I was kind of disappointed with this advice. I mean, it's sound advice if you're speaking with someone entirely rational. But my impression is that this guy is kind of disturbed and in denial about himself. He's trying to make his actions sound normal, but reading between the lines, I sense more trouble that he either doesn't sense, or is concealing. He didn't ask Amy for help to change himself, but rather how to continue what he is doing, but without getting in trouble. He sees the other people's attitude as the problem, not his behavior. But clearly, people who have met him quite quickly pick up on strangeness, and he is at a loss to understand why. I hope Amy's frankness was a wakeup call, because clearly he needs someone to tell it like it is. But I would have framed it in even stronger terms than Amy did--his "doing nothing wrong" has endangered his job, and he is so unresponsive to other people's feelings that he lied about complying with the request to delete photos. Dude, the reason "girls rarely talk to [you]" is that you're scary. You make strange requests, and you are oblivious to their feelings and boundaries. Being an outcast is a vicious circle. You might have had few girls talk to you in high school because you were socially inept. The mistreatment has only served to prevent you from having more positive social interactions, making you more socially inept, more badly treated, followed by increasingly strange behavior on your part. You need to not just go out to interact with people, but figure out and respond to why so many are disturbed by you. When a large number of people feel the same way about some traits of yours, especially if they're nice people, then it might be a problem in the way you're acting, not in the way they're perceiving you.

Posted by: Quizzical1 at November 21, 2007 6:57 AM

Honestly, I found this letter scary. What he says and doesn't say made me think sociopathic future serial rapist/killer. And no, I'm not exaggerating.

Posted by: Anne [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 21, 2007 7:13 AM

"Lock up the camera and make yourself talk to 100 people".

Excellent advice Amy, and a classic. Though starting with the hundred people thing in this case is a bit like asking and acrophobiac to go bungee jumping. The good news is that modern times provide plenty of ways to ease into better social skills. Some of them are already mentioned. LW might want to seek counseling or even just find a good "coach" he can trust.

It's too bad that when people ask for help with things like this, the reaction they get is like Anne's above. Not everyone is going to be in the personality mainstream and the people who aren't don't belong in jail because they make somebody a bit nervous.

Posted by: martin [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 21, 2007 7:53 AM

Squicky. Dude is squicky and I don't mean maybe. I agree with Martin that LW should maybe seek counseling. I've read too many books with characters that sound like this guy ending up being the killer/rapist. Wouldn't want life to imitate art here. o_O

Posted by: Flynne [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 21, 2007 9:16 AM

This seems more than a bit outside the "personality mainstream". I got a pretty creepy vibe as well. His denial about it not being wrong despite all the warning signs (as pointed out by Quizzical1) puts it beyond quirky into creepy. I wouldn't go so far as Anne, but I could see it getting worse the older he gets as Amy suggested.

Socially awkward, shy guys in their 20's can be quite sweet when they make honest attempts to connect with the real world. It's not like he's afraid to get into situations where he interacts with people -- he's out volunteering -- this is one way you get to meet people with similar interests and values and maybe make a connection. Instead he's just done it to get pictures....I wonder if he even cares about what he is volunteering for?

It kinda makes me wonder if this is in the realm of being a fetish? However, a fetish is only cool when everyone consents and it doesn't become an obsession. If that's what it is, he should be advertising for picture partners on a suitable fetish site.

Anyway, if what he really wants is a life, then I think Amy's advice is right on. If he really only wants to keep taking pictures and goes outside mutual consent, I can't see it ending well for him.

Posted by: moreta [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 21, 2007 9:21 AM

I am into photography too. The people in my photo club would NOT find this normal behavior, nor would we encourage him to continue acting this way! We might give him technical criticism on his photos, but everyone in the group would be careful not to get too close to him in the parking lot or tell him where we lived. And I say this knowing how many social recluses there in the photography club.

In photographing people, the law says basically that you can if you are on public property. This law is being tested all the time. Even though the law says you can, basic human respect says you don't do things that really creep people out or violate their dignity or safety. Common sense says that volunteering isn't a vehicle for messing with people.

Lastly, I find that if my subject is feeling uncomfortable, I don't get a very good picture, so please don't tell me he's doing this for some artistic purpose!

"He didn't ask Amy for help to change himself, but rather how to continue what he is doing, but without getting in trouble. He sees the other people's attitude as the problem, not his behavior."

So true!! I would *never* want to find myself in a darkroom with this person. Who knows where they'd find my bones when the lights went on?

Amy, you gave excellent advice.

Posted by: jenniferS at November 21, 2007 9:23 AM

I'll take the plunge: what consitutes "creepy"? Why can Hugh Hefner make a life out of taking photos of babes, while he can't?

Posted by: The Mad Hungarian at November 21, 2007 9:28 AM

Do I really need to explain this? I thought I did it in the column. He's:

1. Not making a living out of it, but avoiding living.
2. This isn't about photography.
3. He can avoid living all he wants, but other people frequently don't want to be a part of it.
4. It's creepy, and women see it that way.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at November 21, 2007 9:35 AM

Just to clarify my position for Martin and others - as a self-confessed computer and sci-fi geek, I'm familiar with people who have less-than-stellar social skills. In college I played pen&paper role-playing games (Dungeons & Dragons, etc.). Trust me, I don't label the odd-balls and painfully shy guys as potential sociopaths.

That said - I will break down for you why all radars went on alert:

collecting memories of girls who were kind to me brought me comfort, since girls rarely talk to me.
Two things, here: one, he's possibly reading way too much into common behavior. Girls rarely talked to him, so when someone was kind he wanted to save a memory. What does it take for him to think of it as being anything but social courtesy? A thank-you, a smile as you pass him in the post office? That's #1 - assigning too much importance to common courtesy. #2 - the COLLECTING. You'd be amazed at how many serial rapists/killers and stalkers collect things from their victims.

She asked me to delete the photos, but I only pretended to because I’d done nothing wrong -- I’m just a normal guy taking photos with female friends. Now she says I can’t bring my camera to future events. How do I continue without getting in trouble?
As others have said, this is a complete disregard for how he's making others feel, with the focus being solely on what makes him feel good. You don't get much more sociopathic than that.

Oh - lastly - it takes A LOT for multiple people to complain to a boss/HR/volunteer manager. That means that whatever he's doing is making people very uncomfortable, not just a little. That said, will he ever do anything beyond creepy? Who knows. It probably depends a lot on what other stressors factor into his life at the same time. But he goes beyond being socially inept, and beyond creepy.

Posted by: Anne [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 21, 2007 10:03 AM

Anne makes a good point. There's a huge difference between an introvert and this guy. I'm of the mind that people should leave introverts be and not treat their lack of a desire to be chatty, people people as if it's some flaw.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at November 21, 2007 10:20 AM

>>I'll take the plunge: what consitutes "creepy"? Why can Hugh Hefner make a life out of taking photos of babes, while he can't?

In addition to what Amy pointed out, what makes this creepy is that while these women have so far given permission to have their picture taken, the purpose of the picture is unclear. Hugh takes pictures to make money and he has the permission of the girls whose picture he takes to do so and has paid them for that permission. Within the context of a friendship there would be a general understanding that either party might want to maintain momentos of good times together. In the case of casual acquaintences or damn near strangers.....the purpose of the photos is what?

Posted by: moreta [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 21, 2007 10:54 AM

I don't think this guy is an introvert at all.

He may be a fetishist and I will leave it to a panel of distinguished eggheads to try to figure out what his major malfunction is.

But I can chose not to associate with him without suggesting he is a danger to anyone. That's not to say he isn't dangerous but just pointing out that truly dangerous people are the ones who know how to ape the behavior it takes to get through someone's defenses.

He may have a fetish for taking pictures of people without their fully informed consent. If he raises a camera and says "may I?" most people will shrug and say "sure." If they understood that this picture will hold special...significance for him, later, alone, in his mom's basement, ugh, not so much. If that is the case, he is on the road to serious trouble.

He seems to be saying that, as he is getting older and moving into more complex modes, he is finding it harder to pursue his fetish. And if he were writing about the difficulty of continuing to wear women's underwear or something, would we be so quick to offer him advice for correcting his "defect?"

If he can look people straight in the eye and say: (whatever sick shit he plans to do with their photos) + "can I take your picture?" then he isn't really doing anything wrong. It's taking the pictures under a false pretext that is a problem and the advice hits around that well enough.

It is easier than ever to slander people; a single blunder can be on google forever. People are afraid of anything too different and organizations are quick to pander to people's fears; the lawyers are ever circling. All it takes anymore is to speculate that someone might be dangerous or "offensive" or even "inappropriate" and suddenly that person's real livlihood, their ability to enjoy the basic elements of life are seriously screwed and that's not right.

This guy sounds like he is need of someone to point out to him the places his behavior make other people uneasy, you know, friends, good friends.

Posted by: martin [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 21, 2007 12:24 PM

Martin, you're leaving out a critical component in your logic. Let's just say that this guy did have a fetish of wearing women's underwear. How many people does this involve? One - himself. However, his particular thing requires the participation of another individual.

And here is the most important part, that you are conveniently white-washing over: He does NOT care if the other person is a willing participant or not. That's what bugs me.

Now, to move on to your "I can avoid him without suggesting he is a danger to anyone." Do you know one of the biggest factors that leads people to be victimized? It's being overly polite or not causing waves even though that person "gives them the creeps" or they "have a bad feeling". Now, certainly, I wouldn't suggest going to law enforcement or HR or anything based on feelings, but if I worked in that office, I not only would avoid him, but I would probably advise people I cared about to do the same.

Posted by: Anne [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 21, 2007 1:21 PM

Thanks, Anne - exactly right.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at November 21, 2007 1:27 PM

But I can chose not to associate with him without suggesting he is a danger to anyone. That's not to say he isn't dangerous but just pointing out that truly dangerous people are the ones who know how to ape the behavior it takes to get through someone's defenses.

Martin, I feel this is a false distinction. If you want to learn how the truly criminally disturbed think, I suggest you read Obsession, or The Cases that Haunt Us, by John Douglas, former FBI profiler. There are people who can ape behavior who are dangerous, and people who can't ape behavior who are dangerous, so that ability in and of itself isn't a good judge. Not to say that LW is one or the other. I don't want to condemn this guy only by virtue of the brief letter. He could be someone with, say, Asperger's, who just isn't able to pick out clues to social behavior, but who is nonetheless harmless and innocent in intent.

Posted by: Quizzical1 at November 21, 2007 2:05 PM

Quizz, I LOVE John Douglas, and you are exactly right.

Posted by: Anne at November 21, 2007 2:24 PM

Fair enough, and good point Quizzical1. If I really knew who the dangerous ones were, I could have a TV show or something. It's just that whole "I have a feeling about him" thing really chaps me. Maybe this guy will be the next Jeff Dahmer and maybe he'll wind up with a restraining order and pink slip and on a sex offender list because of a "feeling" someone had about him.

There are enough people who err (and error) on both sides of caution that it is certainly no crusade of mine. But I do hear about kindergarten children being charged with sexual harrasment and wonder if we aren't missing the Dahmers by hounding the guys who are just a little different.

Posted by: martin [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 21, 2007 2:38 PM

Gut instincts exist for survival. This guy is seriously creepy. He should see a professional, but I don't think anyone will be able to convince him of that, as he thinks he's doing 'nothing wrong'.

Now when I go and see 'Lars and the Real Girl', I'll be thinking about this guy, and wondering how many guys are out there just like him.

Posted by: Chrissy [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 22, 2007 6:49 AM

Martin - read The Gift of Fear by Gavin De Becker, for every overreaction there are hundreds of men and women ignoring that little voice screaming 'run'. This guy is creepy.

Your other point is completely wrong btw. Most psychos come with a big neon sign proclaiming that fact. The problem is that most people, either through a fear of 'overreacting' or being 'impolite' or lacking confidence in their own decisions, ignore easy signs. How often do you read columns saying that the abusive husband started off 'intense and loving' but became a psycho?

Posted by: lolly at November 22, 2007 11:07 AM

I work with a lot of photographers, both in my "straight" job (in media) and in my hobbies (involving BDSM & fetish). I have been noticing recently a surprisingly high correlation between Asperger's/high functioning autism and interest in/skill at photography. I doubt I would have twigged to this, but two photographers of my acquaintance are very "out" about their autism, and a fetish model I know recently blogged about the surprising number of "Aspie" photographers with whom she ends up interacting.

This is just totally spitballing, but I've been wondering lately if maybe people with this sort of neurological condition are drawn to photography. Many times, they have a really hard time interacting with people, and reading social situations, but still yearn for some sort of connection. Being behind a camera allows for interaction while still remaining "other."

This young man's post struck me as similar to posts I've seen from neurologically atypical folks. Could all be coincidence, and it doesn't make Amy's advice any less valid, I just wonder whether he has the internal tools to follow it. A lot of aspies aren't diagnosed until later in life, and really don't understand why people treat them so oddly.

Posted by: Anathema at November 22, 2007 12:02 PM

A thought: since this guy seems to have a fetishistic feeling about his little snapshots (whether it's actually an official paraphilia or not), I would think it good advice to recommend that he engage professionals in that field for both "being nice" on a verbal level and posing for photos. Yes, it might seem a bit odd to the young ladies to meet someone who (presumably) wants to shoot some _fully clothed_ photos of them, but I guarantee it won't be the oddest request they've ever heard - I was once told about a guy who went to such an establishment wanting whoever his hour was with to don a Supergirl outfit he'd brought and act like they were being overcome by Kryptonite while he snapped away. (Whatever gets you through.). And those professionals are not going to make themselves vulnerable to "now I will stalk you" escalation if that becomes a temptation, they are careful with their personal privacy.

Since he wants to work out some way to indulge without being judged, this seems practical and logical. I think if _beyond that_ he was interested in solving the "girls rarely talk to me" connection thing, I would just suggest some additional resources (counseling, groups, classes, or whatever).

Really enjoy everyone's input...

P.S. Martin, I think it would be 'acrophobe' rather than 'phobiac' - though it is tempting to make it like maniac.

Posted by: A in SF at November 22, 2007 3:42 PM

Some people are psychos and some are just shy, harmless and looking for a connection. Try to give the latter group the benefit of the doubt.

Posted by: DaveG [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 22, 2007 7:27 PM

Again, the guy is NOT into photography. It's a means of avoiding rejection.

Posted by: Amy Alkon [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 22, 2007 8:07 PM

I totally get that, but my "I'm just sayin' " is that I've noticed photography as a slightly fetished means of avoiding rejection seems to be common in folks with neuro disorders such as Asperger's, and wonder whether there's something going on at a deeper level here. Since there's no treatment, it doesn't really help, except that many aspies are really smart and once they figure out what they're doing, can learn NT (neuro typical) behaviors, and fit in better.

Posted by: Anathema at November 22, 2007 8:15 PM

There are measures everyone needs to learn and practice to stay safe in this world but “intuition” is not some mysterious 6th sense people have; it is prejudice pure and simple.

You can’t tell much about somebody by looking at the outside and it takes years of study to be QUALIFIED to diagnose a clinical disorder based on behavior. And yet there are laws and policies on the books that allow an organization, public or private, to curtail a person’s rights based solely on anonymous testimony as to “feelings.”

It might sound easy for me as a man to say all this but, in general, men are as astute as women when it comes to detecting “different” people. Schoolboy hazing rituals are all about singling out and punishing anyone even slightly outside the norm. It is another evolutionary social trait meant to protect the tribe from any who might threaten survival. But civilization is supposed to be an effort to rise above all that.

Amy’s advice is good but I am not the first to point out that it doesn’t answer LW’s question (not that it needs to.) LW is either a dangerous nut or he’s not. If he follows Ellis’ exercise and speaks to 100 strangers, he might learn better social graces and become a happier, better adjusted person. In the mean time, 100 women have to put up with a nervous man sidling up to them and inquiring about their views on the weather. And if he truly is dangerous, he will simply learn better stalking techniques.

I swiped a card from someone else’s deck not long ago and I didn’t think I’d get a chance to use it so soon. This notion that they have a right to have their “intuition” respected is one of the things women will eventually have to give up in the name of equality between the sexes. When I was a young man, we guys would happily pummel any other guy at the request of that fetching redhead who said he made her feel uneasy. If a “creep” was in possession of any personal item of hers, such as a photograph, it was perfectly acceptable to break into his school locker, maybe even his family’s home, to recover it for her. Women have the power to point a finger and have a man “disappeared” and that isn’t right.

I have already conceded the point about being able to definitively tell who is dangerous and who is not; my words were poorly chosen. But I rephrased that point and I stick by it. Besides indicting people unfairly, “intuition” can lead to a false sense of security. There are two ways to be wrong and one way to be right.

Posted by: martin [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 23, 2007 7:06 AM

*Women have the power to point a finger and have a man “disappeared” ....*

It's safer just to stay indoors with the shades drawn, eating Cheetos and watching porn.

Posted by: Gog_Magog_Carpet_Reclaimers at November 24, 2007 9:57 AM

Or eating porn and watching Cheetos.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at November 24, 2007 10:20 AM

I must be missing something.

I don't think I've ever been to a social event where people DIDN'T want to take a picture of me and everyone else that was there. As a result, there are zillions of awful pictures of me with my eyes half-closed.

He says he asks before taking the pics, what exactly is the big deal?

Posted by: Nicole at November 24, 2007 1:10 PM

It's not a social event, it's a workplace, and he isn't taking pictures of something that's happening; he's collecting people. People he barely knows.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at November 24, 2007 1:50 PM

"This is me and Chrissy at the charity drive. Nice girl, but I had to dump her. Too clingy."

Or is he blowing up the photos to life-size, trimming out the faces, cutting holes for the eyes, and taping them to mannequins?

It's what isn't being said that gives me the creeps about this whole thing.

Posted by: Gog_Magog_Carpet_Reclaimers [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 24, 2007 2:30 PM

"It's what isn't being said that gives me the creeps about this whole thing.".

Yeah, what's NOT being said, like: "No, please don't take my picture," or... "why do you want my picture?" or "Okay, ENOUGH with the pictures!" Nope, they smile pretty for the camera, and then complain to the boss later...

Of course the guy would believe he did "nothing wrong" if noone indicated they had a problem with it...

Being an employer, it's difficult when people say to another's face "Oh sure, no problem" and then complain, expecting it to be dealt with for them. And when asked, noone admits to having said a word... it puts the manager in a difficult position.

Posted by: Morbideus [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 26, 2007 2:10 PM

Posted by: martin [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 27, 2007 6:54 AM

Regarding that piece you linked to...oh, hurl.

And Martin, it's easier to deem all women "quirky and capricious and not to be held responsible for their words or actions" than to actually take personal responsibility for finding a woman who isn't that way. I'm certainly not.

Posted by: Amy Alkon [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 27, 2007 7:00 AM

Hurl is right.

And amen to not deeming all women, or men, anything. Finding mature, responsbible people to keep company with is one thing but we still have to deal with co-workers etc. The current state of affairs is that an anonymous letter to HR can get a man walked off the premises w/o evidence or investigation while a similar accusation against a woman wouldn't. This happened to a co-worker I liked and respected but hey, back to my porn and cheetos. (/bitter whining ends)

Posted by: martin [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 27, 2007 7:35 AM

There is one sure fire way to find out if someone is a serial killer. When he kills more than 2 people. The lack of understanding social cues isn't just an asbergers(sp) trait there are just some people just suck at reading them. Also if your foreign or from a mixed ethnic background the rules are totally different. Body language and social cues are foreign you live you learn and you make shit loads of mistakes. If your dad has a military background using him for social cues should be done VERY carefully.

"When I was a young man, we guys would happily pummel any other guy at the request of that fetching redhead who said he made her feel uneasy." And yet 10 years later when the thug(s) for hire get old has a limp and makes minimum wage and I'm a dick for wanting to drag him outside and pound the crap out of him. Strange none of the real assholes went military so no danger of stumbling onto a wounded vet.

Posted by: vlad [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 27, 2007 8:52 AM

The only part of the LW's letter that raised my radar (which isn't the best I admit) was the "some, near strangers, but 60 years from now, will I care?" The weird planning ahead for 60 years about a photo he took of a stranger today, sounds like obsession waiting for an object. I'm kind of worried about his reaction to any women that actually shows interest. He maybe completely safe but he's at the very least obsessive.

Posted by: vlad [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 27, 2007 9:07 AM

"The current state of affairs is that an anonymous letter to HR can get a man walked off the premises w/o evidence or investigation while a similar accusation against a woman wouldn't. This happened to a co-worker I liked and respected but hey, back to my porn and cheetos. (/bitter whining ends)"

Which has nothing to do with this creep. He openly photographs his co-workers, he's been warned about it, he knows they don't like it but refuses to stop. He's hardly an innocent victim of a capricious woman.

Posted by: JoJo [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 27, 2007 2:24 PM

"Now Morb, as long as we want to enjoy the charming ">company of the fairer sex, we'll just have to accept that they are quirky and capricious and not to be held responsible for their words or actions. It's all good."

I keep forgetting that one... lol!

Posted by: Morbideus [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 29, 2007 6:44 PM

I muffed the link on "company." Here it is. Have paper towels handy.

Posted by: martin [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 30, 2007 6:48 AM

Do I need to be a shrink to interject any meaningful comments here? Damn, by the time I reached the end of this thread, I felt as if a doctorate was a prereq to comment. I taught myself law (not by choice, but rather a defensive manuever)and feel like maybe it's time to learn another "trade." I'll be honest, I'm considering going back to school (again) but was hoping to study Political Science, not Psychology but I digress.

"Gut instincts exist for survival. This guy is seriously creepy. He should see a professional, but I don't think anyone will be able to convince him of that, as he thinks he's doing 'nothing wrong'."

Not being female, this one went right over my head. After reading the responses, I've drawn my own conclusions. Fetish, or one of the numerous psychological egghead conclusions drawn here seems reasonable to me, but I think some of you are slamming this guy pretty hard.

Chrissy, is one who has never been taught that stealing is wrong destined to be the next serial bank robber shooting up banks because he's thieving today?

I used to backpack out west and in Canada and prefer solitude over crowds. I prefer to stay home, need few friends, and lived vicariously through internet gaming for years. By all rights, I could have been rightfully labeled a recluse (sp?) (I'm not spell checking as I don't care) My point? I consider myself a social derilict in the sense that I generally despise social gatherings (after all, I was a backpacker for a reason) but can feign sincere social skills as needed. Therefore I qualify as an ape?

I'm tired, so I'm probably talking in a midless circle and not making sense so I'd better wrap this up. I'm simply contrasting myself with the "creepy guy" and the camera. I consider myself a "loner" and obviously so is he. I can fake social skills, so can he. I didn't see why what he was doing was wrong, until I read all the posts. Therefore, if I had the same fetish as he, I wouldn't be any different than him. I'm not a psycho and my shrink would vouch for that. As George Thoroughgood (can't stand him) sang, "Everybody funny, now you funny too."

We're all "freaks" in our own way. This "photgrapher" lives his life through his pictures, not my cup of tea, but Jeffrey Dahmer? Like the theif in the pathetic analogy I used (I'm tired gimme a break) the fact that this Hugh Heffner wannabe doesn't comprehend that his behavior is inappropriate, doesn't mean he's going to be boiling biceps and buttocks in a few years. I agree he needs help, but so does the thief in my analogy. How can someone be expected to change an inappropriate behavior before they comprehend why it's inappropriate? You can't write someone off because they lack a norm (thank God for that College Psych class I hated) possessed by most others in a given society.

In closing I would concur that for those women who thought, "55 gallon drum" and "Creepy" after reading his letter should run like hell because you have intuition for good reason, and it's usually an accurate perception of the situation at hand.

I say run but don't relegate him to failure as an incurable sociopath merely because he's ignorant of his mental affliction.


Posted by: Tony F at December 2, 2007 9:29 PM

See my blog - introversion or being more comfortable alone is not a disorder. This guy, AGAIN, is NOT a photographer, but a guy with some serious issues. He's on the verge of getting fired and people are feeling violated by his hobby. This is not okay. And I say that as somebody who feels most comfortable around people considered "weird" -- one of my friends being a woman who was married to a (biological) man she referred to as "my tranny wife Jenn." I don't write people off because they're weird; I give them advice (see above) when they are, well, in this case, kinda sick.

Regarding this remark: "don't relegate him to failure as an incurable sociopath merely because he's ignorant of his mental affliction."

The average person is not in the business of social work. Nor is the guy's boss. The guy needs to fix himself before he's unemployed and/or worse.


Posted by: Amy Alkon [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 2, 2007 9:39 PM

First Amy, to use an anology, please understand that I'm in a gunfight and weiding only a toy knife when it comes to a discussion about psychology.

I trust the diagnosis of those such as yourself who can separate the freaks from the sociopaths. With that, I accept that he's playing with less than a full deck. I agree that if he doesn't address it, he's going to create more serious problems for himself later in life with his inappropriate behavior.

I read your Blog about introversion and get the point about introversion not being a mental illness (despite the fact that many in society feel we introverts are mentally deficient) and agree with you. Someone mentioned camping alone one memorial day weekend and the response of his coworkers. A couple of years back, I went backpacking alone (a big no-no, if you get in trouble, too bad for you) on a Memorial day weekend. The the blank stares I was looking at on the faces of those I worked with (after explaining how I came out of the woods a different person) leads me to believe that they too saw the same flying saucer another LW alluded too.

I'm not saying you wrote this guy off, but get the impression Chrissy did. How can this guy get help when he doesn't recognize he's ill? Another 20 years of him creating more female props, and I'd be on gaurd around this guy myself and I'm 6'1" with a large frame. I think that if he doesn't get help and continues unabated, help is going to find him after someone dials 911.

PS, are there any good online dictionaries for psych terminology? I can't stand reading a piece where I miss half the LW's point due to my inability to comprend the meaning of psych terms and the context in which they're being used.


Posted by: Tony F at December 3, 2007 6:20 AM

I consider myself a good judge of character, and don't feel that my function in life is to rehabilitate. I also don't understand the term 'benefit of the doubt' when it is applied to people who are either a possible danger to myself at worst, or just make me uncomfortable. I can see what's there and choose whether I want to interact with this person. I am judging whether my life would be better by allowing this person in my bubble. If not, then there is no doubt, therefore no second guessing.

Posted by: Chrissy [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 4, 2007 1:29 PM

If you're "normal", believe me, you ain't normal.

Posted by: Abby-normal at December 5, 2007 10:31 AM

Normal? What is the definition of normal? I believe we're our weird in our own ways. I have no qualms about calling myself a freak. My daughter tells me I'm weird and I tell her, "that's okay. I like myself. I'm not worried about what other people think unless I've offended them." Then it's the "sticks and stones balh blah blah..."


ToNY WithOut Papers

Posted by: Tony F at December 6, 2007 4:04 PM

Commenting far too bleeding late, I know.
To contribute, if only for the archives, my two cents:
I am a loner. Technically, I'm a social hermit. I prefer to live alone, interact through my computer, and engage in social situations only when the mood hits me. Daily social interaction is called work, and that's so bills are paid, and not for my personal enjoyment.
Stating that, though, I know enough to not shit where I eat. You don't bring more weird into the workplace than you think the people you work with can handle. Most of my coworkers are twice my age, so conversation is tailored up a couple of decades. A quirky joke, well-placed, once every few months lets everyone know that you're basically okay, but you say the most ridiculous things on occasion.

This guy isn't a weirdo in a group of norms. He's a dude using a semi-captive group for his own amusements. Coworkers are there because they want to pay bills. Volunteers are there because they want to help in some cause. Being subjected to an ongoing barrage of bizarre requests causes people to think about quitting. Losing employees because Billy Bob Jo Bob won't stop harassing the staff makes it likely he'll be booted if he doesn't stop. People don't want to be held hostage five days a week, and the company doesn't want the big fat group lawsuit that'll come if those around him need therapy or start being afraid to go in. It's not like he's the photography nut who keeps taking bad pictures at the company picnic, after all. He's interfering with people on company time, on the company dime. Great big fluffy no-no, that.

To those who claimed Aspergers...
One of my better friends has that, and I never knew until she told me. I just thought she was a bit oblivious and wrote it off. I've dealt with the socially inept for a good long while, so a bit more awkwardness isn't confusing to me. It just means subtlety is not the plan for the day.
This isn't a case of not picking up on subtle cues. This is flat out choosing to ignore people saying "Stop that. It bothers me." Don't give people with legitimate problems the stigma of dealing with yet another asshat.

For the fetishist argument:
Maybe it is a fetish. Maybe it's a power play. Either way, it doesn't belong in the workplace. You don't get to ask the secretary why you can't touch her feet, and you don't get to harass people for their picture. If you want to play trippy head games and creep people out, office work is not for you.

Posted by: Bellamoonlight [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 14, 2007 9:47 AM


Posted by: Amy Alkon [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 14, 2007 10:13 AM

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