Reasons Someone May See You As Weird, In The Bad Sense Of The Word
Socially awkward people often get told they're weird. It's a tricky word to deal with because it has both positive and negative connotations, and we use it to describe all kinds of things. Sometimes it refers to something that's offbeat or different, but not necessarily bad. The appeal of many artists and performers is that they're delightfully odd and proudly non-conventional. At other times someone may call something weird, and they're pointing out a behavior that's socially inappropriate, and overly strange and disconcerting. In this case the person doing the weird things may want to take that feedback to heart and try to act differently.
The hard part is figuring out which of your weird behaviors to keep and which ones to adjust. It's a judgment call that everyone has to make for themselves. The choices someone will make depends on how much their orientation toward changing socially is based on being pragmatic and adapting to the world vs. being true to themselves.
Here are some things that may earn someone a negative "weird" label:
Simply being too different from the norm in some way
I've never heard anyone say, "Look at that weird jock", but you'll often hear, "Look at that weird Goth kid." To a large degree Goths are seen as weird, and jocks as normal, because one subculture is way more common than the other. Sure, some people would argue that Goths are weird in other ways, but I think that's subjective. Many people will be seen as weird simply for dressing differently, having an esoteric hobby, having a unique way of looking at the world, or having opinions that aren't entirely mainstream. This is the variety of weirdness that many people probably won't want to change too much, or only make slight practical tweaks to.
Having an odd sense of humor
In another article, Thoughts on Being Funny, I mention that people can't help but assume your sense of humor reflects what you're like as a person. If you make a lot of strange or random jokes people may conclude your overall personality is like that. This one is very subjective as well. There's nothing wrong with making jokes that are really out there. Many people prefer that type of wit. I think what's important is to know your audience. Some people may not think anything of it when you show your random sense of humor. Other people may form the impression that you're a weird person all around, even if they laugh at some of the kooky stuff you come up with.
Any kind of social awkwardness
This point and the ones below cover behaviors that are more objectively problematic. People often get called weird when they make a lot of social mistakes. They're seen as strange because their behavior is not what others are expecting. People may also assume somone's social errors are symptoms of a more core oddness.
- Not making enough eye contact? Weird.
- Standing too close? Weird.
- Speaking in a monotone voice? Weird.
- Has fidgety, antsy mannerisms? Weird.
- Was asked a question where people normally give a canned response and said something out of left field instead? Weird.
- Disclosing too much personal information at a time when it's not appropriate? Weird.
- Brought up a gross subject during a staff meeting? Weird.
- It's five in the evening and his hair looks like he just got out of bed? Weird.
- Seemed really uncomfortable and stammered out two-word reply when I said hello? Maybe just shy, possibly weird as well.
- Being really quiet? Again, many people could see this behavior as a sign of shyness, but some would label it as weird too.
I could go on and on. Of course, just improving your social skills will correct this problem.
Acting hyper and childish
Some people can act pretty childish and hyper, especially when they're excited or joking around. They get carried away and go overboard with the silliness. The same people often come across as immature in general. A lot of people will label this kind of behavior as weird and see it as pretty off-putting.
Doing things just to amuse yourself
One thing I've noticed with supposedly weird people is that they'll do little things to amuse themselves and not care what everyone else thinks of it. Like they may say a comment out loud that will entertain them to hear, but will offend or confuse everyone else. They may revert to this kind of behavior when they're bored or have nothing else to do. Sometimes it's like they have an ongoing in-joke with themselves. At other times they get entertainment simply from acting strange. The obvious drawback is that outside of their own little world other people think they're acting odd and alienating. Sometimes this behavior is a type of unconscious self-sabotage.
Having too many esoteric thoughts, knowledge, and experiences in your head
Sometimes people are seen as weird because they've spent hours and hours accumulating non-typical knowledge and experiences. If they're having a conversation and want to add a point of their own, they're more likely to come up with something that seems bizarre and out of place to most people, because they don't have as much "typical" material to draw from. For example, if everyone is joking around about sex, they may mention something they read about the peculiar mating habits of barnacles. Nothing wrong with being interested in that topic, but it's a lot more random than what most people expect to hear. If your brain is pre-loaded with mostly "weird" things then you can't help but let it come out in conversations.
Having truly odd beliefs
I already mentioned how it's fine if someone has views that are just different from the norm. This point is talking about on-the-face "off" beliefs, the kind of thing that upon hearing you can't help but immediately dismiss. They're the type of views that form when someone is too socially inexperienced or cut off from the world. It's hard to think up examples, but you tend to recognize these kinds of opinions when you hear them.
Trying to provoke the people who shunned you
This is something you're more likely to see in people who are still school-aged. The basic idea is an awkward kid doesn't fit in for whatever reason. They try to be liked at first, but one day they just give up and start acting purposely weird to annoy and provoke their peers who ostracized them.