[ProgSoc] Reflective plea by a new ProgSoc member directed squarely towards the Thursday night regulars

Tom Bozic tomchristmas at progsoc.org
Fri Dec 12 14:50:53 EST 2008


Hi all,

I'm writing this email to get a few things off my chest - a few
grievances, if you will - and I feel that doing it in this fashion is the
best approach.

A quick note: as this email is intended for those members that regularly
attend the Thursday night gatherings - in particular, those that were
there on the 4th of December from about 17:30 to 19:00 - non-regulars can
cheerfully ignore the rest of the message (or continue to read it - be my
guest).

On the 2nd of October this year, I joined your 'society' with the intent
of meeting individuals who shared my interest in programming and also just
to make friends in a semi-structured environment that a university club
such as this one ought to provide. For reasons beyond the scope of this
email, I did not attend another gathering until the 4th of December, where
I hoped to sort out issues with my server account (which I did), and
perhaps hang out a little bit with everyone in the room. However, on both
occasions, I didn't stay long.

Now, I could attribute my hasty departure on both occasions to petty
excuses such as "It'll be dark when I get home" or "My parents will worry
about me", however, all of those reasons simply obscure the real reason
why I left. I was not, for the most part, made to feel welcome by those
present.

In fact, I felt as if I was intruding upon the activities of a close-knit
circle of friends, invading their private space, and consuming some of the
precious, little oxygen in that tiny, little room. That's not to say that
there was any hostility - expressed or implied - directed towards me (far
from it). It was more of a sense of apathy, which I believe runs contrary
to a core tenet of all properly functioning societies; to care for its
members, old and new.

I wonder - did any of you even notice that I was in the room that day? I
even gave a simple "hi" to everyone as they entered the room, but no-one
bothered to at least say "hi" back.

It was because of this that I decided against attending the following
week's meeting. I was planning to go, and I even made my way to Building
10 on that day, but at the last minute, I thought "What's the point? They
don't want me there" and just went home.

There was one commendable exception, however. John Elliot (if I'm not
mistaken - he's the one that's usually there first, isn't he? Not this
week, though...) was nice enough on my first visit to greet me and to have
a little chat with me in order to learn a little bit about me and vice
versa....and he even remembered me the second time round, two months
later. A true gentleman, he is! It's not good enough, however. Why
couldn't the rest of you make the same (or similar) effort as he did?

Alright, I understand. Generally speaking, programmers are anti-social
creatures by nature (*). I'm no exception. In fact, I might've behaved in
much the same way if our roles were reversed. It's just not in your nature
to be all bubbly and to fervently greet every new person you come across.
If I wanted ebullience, then I should've joined a club such as I Heart UTS
(**) or even the Engsoc (***). I wasn't exactly expecting a raucous rave.
But I was expecting some common courtesy along the lines of a hand-shake
and perhaps the exchange of a few pleasantries and a brief introduction
from each of you.

...and I readily admit that you're all not entirely to blame. Perhaps it
was *I* who should've been a bit more open, take the lead, and shake
everyone's hand. Just one problem - I find that sort of thing incredibly
difficult. I'm quite shy by nature and I don't make friends easily. I was
hoping that being amongst like-minded (to an extent) individuals that this
would be a few degrees easier. But alas, it wasn't.

...and, yes, if John wasn't there, someone else would've given me a
welcome, so maybe I was being a tad harsh in that respect.  But my main
point stands.

So, I don't know - should I or should I not attend future gatherings? It's
up to me, of course. But if I do decide to attend, there will definitely
be a need for all parties concerned (myself included) to put in a bit more
effort to make each other known and for everyone in the room to feel
welcome and to be a part of the proceedings. I really would like to be a
regular, and to get to know you and perhaps become actively involved.

I do apologise if I sounded a bit abrasive. I guess I just wanted to
condense all of my thoughts and feelings into an organised and logical
form and to make them known to all of you, so that you know a little bit
about me and where I stand.

Yours in good faith,

Tom

(*) ...so it follows that a "Programmer's *Society*" may very well be a
contradiction in terms.

(**) Is it really possible to 'heart UTS' that much!? Honestly...

(***) Sounds disturbingly Orwellian this new name of theirs. I liked their
old name (SECSME) better - a lot more fun and cheeky.




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