Not Your Social Experiment

I’ve learned over the years that there are certain keywords people use that tell me the conversation is not going to end well. One of those is the phrase “social experiment.” Invariably, it means some sort of elaborate scam carried out for the express purpose of duping others into believing some sort of sob story. Alternatively (and far too common in patient support groups), it’s somebody who sets up an elaborate prank wherein they pretend to be a fellow patient asking seemingly innocent questions. Of course, the actual reason is to gather fodder to allow for laughing at other patients behind their backs.

Recently, this latter scenario invariably played itself out for me. Somebody came into the group and, after announcing they were conducting, yes, a social experiment, asked others how their day had gone. Several people responded as you might expect. I responded that I had spent the last few minutes wondering what sort of methodology he was using for his social experiment.

As you might expect, the conversation quickly devolved from there. Mr. Social Experiment quickly got defensive . I’ll spare you the rest of the gory details, as it simply got down and dirty from there, in which I was accused of being self-absorbed and somebody else was referred to by a word that should normally only be used as shorthand for a car part.

The point is that I’ve spent a good chunk of my life as a lab experiment for various and sundry doctors. So I have less than zero interest in being yet another test subject in an “experiment” designed to do nothing more than provide somebody else a means to poke fun at me. Because I’ve also had my fair share of being poked at.

So take it elsewhere. I’m not fodder for your LULZ. Nor am I your social experiment.

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6 Responses to Not Your Social Experiment

  1. The fact that people do this in general is distasteful, but that they do it in a support group environment is awful…it demonstrates a complete lack of respect for the people in the group and for the ways in which people make themselves very vulnerable in those situations. When scientists do any sort of research involving humans, even social scientists, it has to go through strict ethics testing to make sure that the people involved aren’t going to be harmed in any way, and support groups are no place for informal “research”, even with the best of intentions. I hope that the leader of your group got called up on the carpet for letting this go on, and I’m sorry you got hurt.

  2. thatwordgrrl says:

    First, I should say that I was not personally hurt by this person’s actions. More…angry. Unfortunately, the other person who got called a nickname for a car part suffered the brunt of it, as Mr. Social Experiment went and posted their exchange (in a locked community) on his blog. For the LULZ. I’m not going to post a link, as it is exceedingly not worksafe, both in terms of content and imagery.

    And yes, there are very strict rules that researchers must follow for any study involving human subjects. I’m a medical editor by trade, so I know ALL about informed consent and IRB approval and the like. Which was why I made the snarky comment to Mr. Social Experiment.

  3. hmm, the “Social Experiment” post turned up in several different communities recently. I did what I usually do with these sort of posts – I totally ignored it and all responses to it.

  4. fallconskat says:

    wouldnt INFORMED consent mean that there were no fuzzy areas about what the alleged researcher was trying to do? and i’m sure that you, especially, had not signed any form that gave carte blanche permission to just research on you willy-nilly.

    i’ve been in a research hospital. every last thing was explained while i was coherant and multiple permission forms signed BEFORE the gallons of blood were taken. *eyeroll* good on you for knowing what was going on and short-circuiting it!

  5. moxiedoesit says:

    Ha, I was accused of being paranoid that the OP was trying to phish my information to rob/murder me and that I’d be better off wearing a tin foil hat when I pointed out that doing so in safe-space support group communities (I also saw it in “introverts”) made me uncomfortable. Just ridiculous.

  6. Pingback: On Infiltration of the Other | Not Your Teachable Moment

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