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The language of office mates

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Right off the bat, this post is in no way piggybacking on all the obesity-your social circle debate. I've worked in a ton of different workspaces--part of that is the (desultory) nature of my business, part of that I attribute to an especially roiling tween & teendom. But everywhere I've worked, there were always a few people with whom I experienced a workaday yet still severe kind of infatuation--either out of desperation because the job was either scary or boring or actually dangerous, or sometimes because the job was too good to be true and so was everyone in the office. What grew out of these infatuations, was, inevitably, lingo. A shared language. Of course there are always inside jokes 100% endemic to your suite number, and conversations that pick up exactly where they left off at the next lunch or coffee or perhaps smoke break. But I'm talking about the lexicon that develops at a work place, and its staying power.

Now, of course this verbal appropriation happens in close friendships and romantic relationships, but I'm particularly interested in how our officemates shape our phraseology--mostly because office life and language is more functionally public, more sanctioned, and perhaps more in need of verbal ciphers.
At my current office, I find myself calling everyone "Mary Louise." It's not because this is the name of anyone I know or aspire to know (though I'd love the opportunity!)--it's just a saying one of my coworkers started, and it took over the entire office. Any proper pronoun is now predicated by "Mary Louise." And anytime someone needs to be corrected on a work-related issue, we firmly say: "Absolutely not." Often: "Mary Louise! Absolutely not." This habit has so inculcated my daily routine that I now find myself addressing cars as such: "Mary Louise! Absolutely not."

Via another office, I found myself saying (wince) "For sure!" to any request, and then just in place of "Got it," or "I understand," in place of all affirmations: "For sure"--though it eventually morphed into a single Frrsurr. In all my West Coast offices, I quickly learned that everything was "hateful" instead of horrid or rotten or anything else, and I was quick to conform. Hateful, hateful, hateful. But beyond the workplace, I'm not sure my friends took these developments in my vocabulary to heart, but maybe that's because I was too busy noticing the words and phrases they'd picked up. The offices where this kind of magical sparring was most prevalent were all busy offices, and I suppose all this talk was a shorthand I haven't even begun to psychoanalyze--any linguistic determinists out there who'd like to try? Every place I work seems to turn into its own Wayne's World. Otherwise, have you noticed/spearheaded anything like this in your workplace?

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How Urban Legends Like 'The Licked Hand' Are Born
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If you compare the scary stories you heard as a kid with those of your friends—even those who grew up across the country from you—you’ll probably hear some familiar tales. Maybe you tried to summon Bloody Mary by chanting her name in front of the mirror three times in a dark bathroom. Maybe you learned never to wonder what’s under a woman’s neck ribbon. Maybe you heard the one about the girl who feels her dog lick her hand in the middle of the night, only to wake up to find him hanging dead from the shower nozzle, the words “humans can lick too” written on the wall in the dog’s blood.

These ubiquitous, spooky folk tales exist everywhere, and a lot of them take surprisingly similar forms. How does a single story like the one often called “Humans Can Lick Too” or "The Licked Hand" make its way into every slumber party in America? Thrillist recently investigated the question with a few experts, finding that most of these stories have very deep roots.

In the case of The Licked Hand, its origins go back more than a century. In the 1990s, Snopes found that a similar motif dates back to an Englishman’s diary entry from 1871. In it, the diary keeper, Dearman Birchall, retold a story he heard at a party of a man whose wife woke him up in the middle of the night, urging him to go investigate what sounded like burglars in their home. He told his wife that it was only the dog, reaching out his hand. He felt the dog lick his hand … but in the morning, all his valuables were gone: He had clearly been robbed.

A similar theme shows up in the short story “The Diary of Mr. Poynter,” published in 1919 by M.R. James. In it, a character dozes off in an armchair, and thinks that he is petting his dog. It turns out, it’s some kind of hairy human figure that he flees from. The story seems to have evolved from there into its presently popular form, picking up steam in the 1960s. As with any folk tale, its exact form changes depending on the teller: sometimes the main character is an old lady, other times it’s a young girl.

You’ll probably hear these stories in the context of happening to a “friend of a friend,” making you more likely to believe the tale. It practically happened to someone you know! Kind of! The setting, too, is probably somewhere nearby. It might be in your neighborhood, or down by the local railroad tracks.

Thrillist spoke to Dr. Joseph Stubbersfield, a researcher in the UK who studies urban legends, who says the kind of stories that spread widely contain both social information and emotional resonance. Meaning they contain a message—you never know who’s lurking in your house—and are evocative.

If something is super scary or gross, you want to share it. Stories tend to warn against something: A study of English-language urban legends circulating online found that most warned listeners about the hazards of life (poisonous plants, dangerous animals, dangerous humans) rather than any kind of opportunities. We like to warn each other of the dangers that could be lurking around every corner, which makes sense considering our proven propensity to focus on and learn from negative information. And yes, that means telling each other to watch out for who’s licking our hands in the middle of the night.

Just something to keep in mind as you eagerly await Jezebel’s annual scary story contest.

[h/t Thrillist]

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Are Sex, Drugs, and Rock 'n' Roll Really Linked? Researchers Investigate
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Around the world, sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll are said to go hand-in-hand. But do they? As PsyPost reports, a pair of Pennsylvania psychologists recently dove into the empirical evidence tying the three together, asking college students to talk about their drug use, sex lives, and music preferences and talents to suss out whether people who play and enjoy rock music really do have more active sex lives and drug use.

Published in the journal Human Ethnology Bulletin, the study [PDF] of 467 students relied on self-reporting, which isn't typically the most reliable evidence—people are wont to exaggerate how often they've had sex, for instance—but the survey also asked them about their desires, posing questions like "If you could, how frequently would you have sex?" It also asked about how often the students drank and what drugs they had tried in their lifetimes. They also described their musical experience and what kind of music they listened to.

The results were mixed, but the researchers identified a relationship between liking faster, "harder" music and having more sex and doing more drugs. Acoustic indie rock aficionados weren't getting quite as wild as heavy metal fans. High-tempo-music lovers were more likely to have taken hallucinogenic drugs like LSD, for example, and tended to have had more sexual partners in the previous year than people who favored slower types of music. According to the study, previous research has found that attention-seeking people are more likely to enjoy "hard" music.

The study didn't have a diverse enough group either in age or in ethnicity to really begin to make sweeping generalizations about humans, especially since college students (the participants were between 18 and 25) tend to engage in more risky behaviors in general. But this could lay the groundwork for future research into the topic. Until then, it might be more accurate to change the phrase to "sex, drugs, and heavy metal."

[h/t PsyPost]

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