Although I find these things extremely important and fascinating, nobody outside the industry has spent enough time thinking about it to have any preconception about what software I use, how we store our data, or how we name different pieces of a character. So they are not going to be surprised when I tell them it's actually not what they thought! Because they did not have any thoughts on it.
What people want to know is what movies I've worked on, and what it's like to meet the voice actors (I don't get to). Speaking of voice actors, this is the sort of "myth busting" that actually interests people: For some reason everyone thinks the sassy black hippo in the Madagascar movies was voiced by Queen Latifah when it was actually Jada Pinkett-Smith. I think this makes some kind of statement about society and race and weight or something, but I don't want to touch this one either.
Her name is Gloria and she is sassy.
So if you're tempted to tell people you actually don't just sell hats at your hat shop, but also many other kinds of headgear, or that hardly anyone in your field does open surgeries anymore because it's all about laparoscopy, or that you drive the excavator much more often than the bulldozer, don't.
Assuming People Know Less About Your Job Than They Do
What I find really bizarre is that people -- sometimes in the same conversation -- will veer all the way across the spectrum and assume you know as little about their job as a recently arrived space alien.
"You probably think all archaeologists go around fighting bad guys and discovering ancient magical artifacts because of Indiana Jones."
"Did you know doctors can't save every patient?"
"We can't rebuild him. We actually don't have the technology."
"When you teach, you find out some parents can be really overbearing and make ridiculous demands!"
"I don't want to blow your mind or anything, but waiters don't like it when people leave a mess on the table."
"I'm an engineer, so you probably think I drive a train, but I'm not actually that kind of engineer."
"Very few astronomers actually get to travel into space."
The equivalent for me would be, I don't know, telling you that animated characters aren't real, they're generated in a computer. For anyone who didn't know that and was hoping to meet Shrek someday, I'm really sorry.
When you make these statements to people, you're implying that they have a developmental disability or are some kind of non-human entity taking on human form in order to learn about our species. If that's not true, they will be very insulted, and if it is true, you're blowing their cover, so watch out. This sort of thing is probably the most likely to get you slapped (or vaporized), next to complaining about your salary.
I don't want to stop anyone from educating other people about their job, but I'm just saying stop and think a bit, and put yourself in the other person's shoes, the shoes of someone who probably also has a job, and has a brain, and doesn't live in a cave. Use the Golden Rule. How interested are you in hearing how little they make or how nobody knows how tough their job is? Hell, if you get that all sorted out and revise your repertoire, you might end up being able to tell the most interesting job stories at the party. That would be pretty cool, I think.
Christina can be contacted on Twitter or Facebook, unless you want to talk about your job, then no.
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