Etiquette Hell

General Etiquette => Life...in general => Topic started by: kitchcat on January 07, 2013, 04:45:27 PM

Title: Outsiders latching onto inside jokes *clarification post #68*
Post by: kitchcat on January 07, 2013, 04:45:27 PM
The thread about the Star Wars joke-maker made me think of this other awkward joke-related situation. This happened to me recently and I've also seen it on various TV shows as well as to other people in real life.

What happens when someone (who I'll just call  the Outsider) who is not "in" on an inside joke among a group of people, keeps (awkwardly) trying to use the inside joke as if they're part of it?

Example: Sue and Sally have an inside joke between them related to a specific incident where Sue accidentally drank hot sauce instead of water and naturally reacted with shock. Now, when something happens that's really surprising, they'll say, "That's spicy!" Mary was not present for the incident and isn't even close with Sue. However, after hearing Sue and Sally say "That's spicy" several times casually, she asks what it means. Sally responds, "Oh, it's just an old inside joke that means it's shocking." Now, Mary is saying "That's spicy!" whenever she's with Sue or Sally, even though she doesn't even know *why* "That's spicy" = shocking.

This has happened to me a few times and it kinda rubs me the wrong way, probably because the Outsider seems kinda of...pushy? I guess like they're inserting themselves in an inappropriate way?

Does this bother anyone else? Would you address it or ignore it?
Title: Re: Outsiders latching onto inside jokes
Post by: onyonryngs on January 07, 2013, 04:47:52 PM
She's trying to fit in.  It's a bit awkward, but it's not hurting anyone.  Is there a reason the joke can't be explained to her? 
Title: Re: Outsiders latching onto inside jokes
Post by: diesel_darlin on January 07, 2013, 04:53:37 PM
That's the reason I dislike "inside" jokes. Yes they are funny, but they often lead to situations like this.

If it's something that someone doesn't want outsiders to know, it's best not to use the catchphrase associated with the joke around someone that you will have to explain the joke to.
Title: Re: Outsiders latching onto inside jokes
Post by: CluelessBride on January 07, 2013, 04:56:15 PM
I could imagine a situation where butting in on an inside joke would seem off, but this isn't really one of them for me.

Sue and Sally have introduced a new word into their vocabulary. They use it in front of Mary. Now Mary picks up on the word and starts to use it. Maybe it spreads, maybe it doesn't, but I think that's part of the evolution of language.

If anything, Sue and Sally are being a little clique-ish by rubbing their inside joke in Mary's face.
Title: Re: Outsiders latching onto inside jokes
Post by: DottyG on January 07, 2013, 05:04:49 PM
Quote
If anything, Sue and Sally are being a little clique-ish by rubbing their inside joke in Mary's face.

That's what I've been wanting to say but wasn't sure how to put it.  I agree.

Title: Re: Outsiders latching onto inside jokes
Post by: LazyDaisy on January 07, 2013, 05:22:29 PM
I agree too. If it bothers someone that an inside joke may be picked up by an "outsider" it is up to the "insiders" to not bring it up in front of them. I think it's similar to talking about a party that someone else isn't invited to but would have a reasonable expectation for one.

For a polite response after the fact, how about privately telling Mary that the phrase has special significance for Sue and Sally and it's not just a silly new catch phrase. I think when people hear the word "joke" the general assumption tends to be that jokes are for sharing in and the more the merrier.
Title: Re: Outsiders latching onto inside jokes
Post by: Iris on January 07, 2013, 05:36:22 PM
I could imagine a situation where butting in on an inside joke would seem off, but this isn't really one of them for me.

Sue and Sally have introduced a new word into their vocabulary. They use it in front of Mary. Now Mary picks up on the word and starts to use it. Maybe it spreads, maybe it doesn't, but I think that's part of the evolution of language.

If anything, Sue and Sally are being a little clique-ish by rubbing their inside joke in Mary's face.

This. If Sue and Sally don't want other people to pick up on their saying, they shouldn't use it in front of others. Having a 'special secret phrase just for us' seems very middle school.
Title: Re: Outsiders latching onto inside jokes
Post by: sweetonsno on January 07, 2013, 05:38:01 PM
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If anything, Sue and Sally are being a little clique-ish by rubbing their inside joke in Mary's face.

That's what I've been wanting to say but wasn't sure how to put it.  I agree.

Amen.

This also reminded me a bit about the recent post about PDAs. While an inside joke (or physical affection) can be a great way to bond, it's impolite to do so in a way that excludes or alienates other people.

I also agree with LazyDaisy. If you want a joke to be kept private (or unique to a particular relationship), then don't pull it out in front of others.
Title: Re: Outsiders latching onto inside jokes
Post by: WillyNilly on January 07, 2013, 05:40:01 PM
I could imagine a situation where butting in on an inside joke would seem off, but this isn't really one of them for me.

Sue and Sally have introduced a new word into their vocabulary. They use it in front of Mary. Now Mary picks up on the word and starts to use it. Maybe it spreads, maybe it doesn't, but I think that's part of the evolution of language.

If anything, Sue and Sally are being a little clique-ish by rubbing their inside joke in Mary's face.

Either Sue and Sally were using this expression in front of Mary to invite her in (and so should now be happy its caught on) or they were doing an exclusionary and clique-ish thing in front of those not invited (and therefore deserve to be annoyed and maybe learn the lesson being mean never pays off). Really there's no place in the scenario for people to think Mary is in the wrong.
Title: Re: Outsiders latching onto inside jokes
Post by: jpcher on January 07, 2013, 05:41:19 PM
I agree too. If it bothers someone that an inside joke may be picked up by an "outsider" it is up to the "insiders" to not bring it up in front of them. I think it's similar to talking about a party that someone else isn't invited to but would have a reasonable expectation for one.

For a polite response after the fact, how about privately telling Mary that the phrase has special significance for Sue and Sally and it's not just a silly new catch phrase. I think when people hear the word "joke" the general assumption tends to be that jokes are for sharing in and the more the merrier.

I read this thread earlier and couldn't figure out what bothered me about Sue and Sally . . . LazyDaisy said my thoughts very nicely.

I picture Sue and Sally saying the phrase and giggling amongst themselves . . . kinda like a secret code. Which would be very rude for them to do.



(3 posts while I'm typing -- I'm agreeing with all.)
Title: Re: Outsiders latching onto inside jokes
Post by: SleepyKitty on January 07, 2013, 05:42:01 PM
Quote
If anything, Sue and Sally are being a little clique-ish by rubbing their inside joke in Mary's face.

That's what I've been wanting to say but wasn't sure how to put it.  I agree.

I can completely see this point of view, but I don't think it's always the case. For me, an inside joke isn't intended to keep someone out, it's intended to reinforce bonds/intimacy between people who know each other very well. I don't see anything wrong with that, provided that it's not happening constantly. I think it would rub me the wrong way because it's okay that two people have something not everyone is involved in, and I think that it shouldn't have to be avoided or hidden. I don't have to be a part of every inside joke and it seems to display insecurity or a need to be more intimate than perhaps the relationship actually is for Mary to "take over" the joke. If Mary was a close friend, she'd have her own inside jokes with the group. If she's not, then trying to force her way into an already established one is a little odd.

This is resting on the assumption that the in-jokes are not happening constantly and they're not so obscure as to leave Mary out of the conversation altogether. There is definitely a time and place for these kinds of things, and the inside-jokers ought to be aware of it. But I think people who are relative newcomers to a group of friends ought to be able to understand that things happened before they were there, and those things will sometimes be referenced in a joke, and not be either upset by that or try and usurp it.
Title: Re: Outsiders latching onto inside jokes
Post by: Scuba_Dog on January 07, 2013, 05:42:56 PM
Quote
If anything, Sue and Sally are being a little clique-ish by rubbing their inside joke in Mary's face.

That's what I've been wanting to say but wasn't sure how to put it.  I agree.

This is where I land on the issue. 

I've never been a fan of using inside jokes around anyone except those who understand them.
Title: Re: Outsiders latching onto inside jokes
Post by: sourwolf on January 07, 2013, 05:46:36 PM
Quote
If anything, Sue and Sally are being a little clique-ish by rubbing their inside joke in Mary's face.

That's what I've been wanting to say but wasn't sure how to put it.  I agree.

So no one is ever allowed to have a shared experience with a friend that becomes part of their short hand? That seems very petty.  Not every person is going to have the same relationship and most people aren't so insecure that they feel like they HAVE to be a part of every.single.thing. 

I also don't understand how Sue and Sally are "rubbing their inside joke in Mary's face" when they were happy to explain what they were talking about.
Title: Re: Outsiders latching onto inside jokes
Post by: Scuba_Dog on January 07, 2013, 05:56:29 PM
Quote
If anything, Sue and Sally are being a little clique-ish by rubbing their inside joke in Mary's face.

That's what I've been wanting to say but wasn't sure how to put it.  I agree.

So no one is ever allowed to have a shared experience with a friend that becomes part of their short hand? That seems very petty.  Not every person is going to have the same relationship and most people aren't so insecure that they feel like they HAVE to be a part of every.single.thing. 

I also don't understand how Sue and Sally are "rubbing their inside joke in Mary's face" when they were happy to explain what they were talking about.

Who said that in what you quoted?  Such exaggeration isn't helpful.
Title: Re: Outsiders latching onto inside jokes
Post by: Yvaine on January 07, 2013, 05:57:09 PM
This is probably how most of the world's slang got started. I don't think it's inherently mean to use it in front of other people--especially since patterns of speech can become sort of autopilot--but if they use it in front of other people, other people may catch on and use it. Not necessarily to be annoying but just because they like it. I mean, even if you don't know the hot sauce story, I think everyone has experienced eating something that's way spicier than we expected, and it does make a good metaphor for surprising. (Assuming that's not a hypothetical, but it could apply to other examples too.)
Title: Re: Outsiders latching onto inside jokes
Post by: CluelessBride on January 07, 2013, 06:02:10 PM
Quote
If anything, Sue and Sally are being a little clique-ish by rubbing their inside joke in Mary's face.

That's what I've been wanting to say but wasn't sure how to put it.  I agree.

So no one is ever allowed to have a shared experience with a friend that becomes part of their short hand? That seems very petty.  Not every person is going to have the same relationship and most people aren't so insecure that they feel like they HAVE to be a part of every.single.thing. 

I also don't understand how Sue and Sally are "rubbing their inside joke in Mary's face" when they were happy to explain what they were talking about.

That's a bit of a hyperbole. 

As I said upthread, I could envision a situation where it was awkward for a person to insinuate themselves into the middle of an inside joke. But in this particular case, to an outsider I would imagine it would feel less like an inside joke and more like a new word. Especially since it has been used several times in front of them and the joke itself wasn't explained.

I have a lot of friends who conversationally use made up, altered, or weirdly emphasized words. One likes to add -licious (like delicious) to the end of random nouns to make them adjectives. "How was seeing the cats when you got back from vacation, were they kitty-licious?" So sometimes I'll use her made up words in conversation with her. If someone else caught on and started using the made up words, I wouldn't even blink an eye.

It's not like Mary's saying "Sally, remember that time when Sue accidentally drank the hot sauce?! Hilarious!" That would feel awkward, because its as if they are pretending to have been there when they weren't. But using silly new slang that is presented to her (that happened to come from that incident) is just conversing in the same language as the other members of the group.

ETA: 2 posts - fast thread!
Title: Re: Outsiders latching onto inside jokes
Post by: bah12 on January 07, 2013, 06:05:54 PM
Quote
If anything, Sue and Sally are being a little clique-ish by rubbing their inside joke in Mary's face.

That's what I've been wanting to say but wasn't sure how to put it.  I agree.

I can completely see this point of view, but I don't think it's always the case. For me, an inside joke isn't intended to keep someone out, it's intended to reinforce bonds/intimacy between people who know each other very well. I don't see anything wrong with that, provided that it's not happening constantly. I think it would rub me the wrong way because it's okay that two people have something not everyone is involved in, and I think that it shouldn't have to be avoided or hidden. I don't have to be a part of every inside joke and it seems to display insecurity or a need to be more intimate than perhaps the relationship actually is for Mary to "take over" the joke. If Mary was a close friend, she'd have her own inside jokes with the group. If she's not, then trying to force her way into an already established one is a little odd.

This is resting on the assumption that the in-jokes are not happening constantly and they're not so obscure as to leave Mary out of the conversation altogether. There is definitely a time and place for these kinds of things, and the inside-jokers ought to be aware of it. But I think people who are relative newcomers to a group of friends ought to be able to understand that things happened before they were there, and those things will sometimes be referenced in a joke, and not be either upset by that or try and usurp it.

While I agree that "inside jokes" are not bad and don't necessarily have to be hidden from the public...and while I understand that your point of view is based on the assumption that it's not done constantly, I do think that in general "inside" jokes need to be handled discreetly.

In the example given in the OP, Sue and Sally use "that's spicy" often enough that Mary notices and asks what it means.  They tell her and she uses it too.  I think it's unfair for them to say "Mary, that is a phrase only for Sue and Sally and you aren't 'in' enough to get to use it too."   If they are so protective of that phrase, then they need to not use it so often.  Mary isn't being rude.  Socially awkward, maybe, but not rude. 

DH and I have some code words for different things.  They aren't necessarily jokes but they are only between he and I.  We will use them in public when we want to communicate something just between us and/or share a private moment, but we don't make it obvious what we are doing.  We don't announce "Hey we have an 'inside' thing going on and none of you are a part of it!" 

So that being said, I think inside jokes are great.  But, I do think it's kind of clique-y to make them so obvious. By definition, if it's an 'inside' joke, then someone is 'outside' the joke and pretty much like talking about a party in front of someone that isn't invited, this can come off rude.  And I get that sometimes an inside joke will slip out that someone else asks about.   I say, just tell them, as best as practicle, the story behind the joke.  That's a nice way of letting them 'in'.  And I would think if you don't continue to reference it, those that aren't meant to be a part won't have much opportunity to insert themselves in it uninvited.
Title: Re: Outsiders latching onto inside jokes
Post by: DottyG on January 07, 2013, 06:09:09 PM
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We will use them in pubic

Well, that's just a little TMI! ;)

Title: Re: Outsiders latching onto inside jokes
Post by: bah12 on January 07, 2013, 06:11:45 PM
Quote
We will use them in pubic

Well, that's just a little TMI! ;)
Good catch...edited!
Title: Re: Outsiders latching onto inside jokes
Post by: sourwolf on January 07, 2013, 06:15:53 PM
Quote
If anything, Sue and Sally are being a little clique-ish by rubbing their inside joke in Mary's face.

That's what I've been wanting to say but wasn't sure how to put it.  I agree.

So no one is ever allowed to have a shared experience with a friend that becomes part of their short hand? That seems very petty.  Not every person is going to have the same relationship and most people aren't so insecure that they feel like they HAVE to be a part of every.single.thing. 

I also don't understand how Sue and Sally are "rubbing their inside joke in Mary's face" when they were happy to explain what they were talking about.

That's a bit of a hyperbole. 

As I said upthread, I could envision a situation where it was awkward for a person to insinuate themselves into the middle of an inside joke. But in this particular case, to an outsider I would imagine it would feel less like an inside joke and more like a new word. Especially since it has been used several times in front of them and the joke itself wasn't explained.

I have a lot of friends who conversationally use made up, altered, or weirdly emphasized words. One likes to add -licious (like delicious) to the end of random nouns to make them adjectives. "How was seeing the cats when you got back from vacation, were they kitty-licious?" So sometimes I'll use her made up words in conversation with her. If someone else caught on and started using the made up words, I wouldn't even blink an eye.

It's not like Mary's saying "Sally, remember that time when Sue accidentally drank the hot sauce?! Hilarious!" That would feel awkward, because its as if they are pretending to have been there when they weren't. But using silly new slang that is presented to her (that happened to come from that incident) is just conversing in the same language as the other members of the group.

ETA: 2 posts - fast thread!

I don't think it's any more hyperbolic than suggesting that Sue and Sally are "rubbing it in Mary's face" but there you go.
Title: Re: Outsiders latching onto inside jokes
Post by: bah12 on January 07, 2013, 06:16:32 PM
This is kind of reminding me of the term "Special Snowflake".  I don't know where it came from but have only seen it on this board.  Everyone uses it (here at least).  And while I may be the only one that doesn't know where it came from, I'm thinking I'm not.  I don't see the phrase as an inside joke, more than e-hell slang (same with Scrabble, which I do know the reference) and I don't think people have to be involved in the original coining of the phrase to get to use it.  We fall into the language of the group, and that seems like what Mary is attempting to do with Sue and Sally.  For Sue and Sally to take issue with it does seem clique-y.

Title: Re: Outsiders latching onto inside jokes
Post by: LazyDaisy on January 07, 2013, 06:25:27 PM
The difference as I see: "have a shared experience with a friend that becomes part of their short hand" is of course OK, no one has said it isn't OK. But if a pair/group of friends have developed a special shorthand and they don't want others to pick it up then the onus is on the insiders to keep it among themselves, not on the outsider to know they're not to pick it up and use it.
Title: Re: Outsiders latching onto inside jokes
Post by: NyaChan on January 07, 2013, 06:28:06 PM
The difference as I see: "have a shared experience with a friend that becomes part of their short hand" is of course OK, no one has said it isn't OK. But if a pair/group of friends have developed a special shorthand and they don't want others to pick it up then the onus is on the insiders to keep it among themselves, not on the outsider to know they're not to pick it up and use it.

That's where I'm at as well.  In this particular case, Mary was taught a phrase & the meaning of that phrase.  She is using it properly in the context where she speaks it & isn't pretending as if she was actually there at its moment of conception.  I don't have a problem with that.  Are there instances where it would be odd?  Yes.  But for me, this isn't one of them.
Title: Re: Outsiders latching onto inside jokes
Post by: Amava on January 07, 2013, 06:35:44 PM
I agree as well. If you use an "inside joke" in public, then it becomes public. It seems to me indeed cliquish to be all like "Mary shouldn't use it because she wasn't there when it originated".

I see no reason why Mary shouldn't use this vocabulary.
Title: Re: Outsiders latching onto inside jokes
Post by: Eeep! on January 07, 2013, 06:37:00 PM
The difference as I see: "have a shared experience with a friend that becomes part of their short hand" is of course OK, no one has said it isn't OK. But if a pair/group of friends have developed a special shorthand and they don't want others to pick it up then the onus is on the insiders to keep it among themselves, not on the outsider to know they're not to pick it up and use it.

That's where I'm at as well.  In this particular case, Mary was taught a phrase & the meaning of that phrase.  She is using it properly in the context where she speaks it & isn't pretending as if she was actually there at its moment of conception.  I don't have a problem with that.  Are there instances where it would be odd?  Yes.  But for me, this isn't one of them.

I fall on this side of things as well.  I don't have a problem with inside jokes if they happen once and while - sometimes something just comes up and it reminds you of the joke.  But even then, it can be a little awkward for the person who is not in on the joke so I generally think it should be avoided, if possible.  It gets a bit weird if all of sudden two people are laughing over something you don't understand is funny.  You either have to ask for an explanation - which can get kind of convoluted if they try to explain it - or you just sit there feeling a little silly why you aren't understanding the joke (or that could just be me. heh.)  But I wouldn't say that rare instances of this happening fall into the rude category.  And I think it would be weird if you tried to reference that joke in future conversations.  However, if an inside joke is referenced enough that someone notices the repetition and feels they have to ask about it, then I think it is falling a bit into "cool kids" territory.
Title: Re: Outsiders latching onto inside jokes
Post by: CluelessBride on January 07, 2013, 06:43:23 PM

I don't think it's any more hyperbolic than suggesting that Sue and Sally are "rubbing it in Mary's face" but there you go.

I guess I'm looking at it as two people using a made-up* word in front of a third person and then trying to find a polite way to say "sorry, this is our word, you can't use it" or being upset/offended that the third person is using it.  That is explicitly putting the third person on the outside, and is actually flaunting it.

Again, I don't think that it's always the case that an inside joke is cliquish (I said as much in my original post, but some of that got lost in the quote tree). But I do think that repeatedly using a new word, claiming its an inside joke and then acting like others shouldn't use that word is less than polite behavior.

And now for some reason I'm picturing Gretchen from mean girls trying to make "Fetch" happen. Except It's Regina and Gretchen telling Cady that she can't use "Fetch" because its "their" word.

*In this case the word is real but the definition is made-up/novel.
Title: Re: Outsiders latching onto inside jokes
Post by: buvezdevin on January 07, 2013, 06:45:00 PM
I think it is more situational, much like nicknames.  Meaning that someone calling a family member a nickname which might be heard by others would not automatically mean that name could be used by a new acquaintance who happened to hear it, without suggesting an attempt at level of intimacy which is not yet there.  In such a case, one might choose not to say anything to the new acquaintance (assuming they already knew the given name), but it can feel a bit awkward.  Or, for someone who is generally known by a nickname, that would be the name used in introduction, and a new acquaintance using it would be expected. 

Neither a limited, nor a general use of a nickname is "wrong" but who uses it and how can differ.

The OP offered an example, but seemed to be speaking to a more general type of occurrence, and I can think of situations where a newer acquaintance eagerly beginning to use some phrasing, or generally adopting ways of doing or saying things would read as "trying a bit too hard."

Title: Re: Outsiders latching onto inside jokes
Post by: sourwolf on January 07, 2013, 06:47:29 PM
I think it is more situational, much like nicknames.  Meaning that someone calling a family member a nickname which might be heard by others would not automatically mean that name could be used by a new acquaintance who happened to hear it, without suggesting an attempt at level of intimacy which is not yet there.  In such a case, one might choose not to say anything to the new acquaintance (assuming they already knew the given name), but it can feel a bit awkward.  Or, for someone who is generally known by a nickname, that would be the name used in introduction, and a new acquaintance using it would be expected. 

Neither a limited, nor a general use of a nickname is "wrong" but who uses it and how can differ.

The OP offered an example, but seemed to be speaking to a more general type of occurrence, and I can think of situations where a newer acquaintance eagerly beginning to use some phrasing, or generally adopting ways of doing or saying things would read as "trying a bit too hard."

Thank you.  This was more the way I was seeing it but you expressed it better.
Title: Re: Outsiders latching onto inside jokes
Post by: CluelessBride on January 07, 2013, 07:05:58 PM
I think it is more situational, much like nicknames.  Meaning that someone calling a family member a nickname which might be heard by others would not automatically mean that name could be used by a new acquaintance who happened to hear it, without suggesting an attempt at level of intimacy which is not yet there.  In such a case, one might choose not to say anything to the new acquaintance (assuming they already knew the given name), but it can feel a bit awkward.  Or, for someone who is generally known by a nickname, that would be the name used in introduction, and a new acquaintance using it would be expected. 

Neither a limited, nor a general use of a nickname is "wrong" but who uses it and how can differ.

The OP offered an example, but seemed to be speaking to a more general type of occurrence, and I can think of situations where a newer acquaintance eagerly beginning to use some phrasing, or generally adopting ways of doing or saying things would read as "trying a bit too hard."

I think names are a bit different because of their inherently personal nature (and sometimes only make sense in the context of a relationship, e.g. Mamu and Pops ).  But even still, I would find it weird if I were introduced by my friend Jane to someone as "Mr. Doe" but all while we are talking she addresses him as "John" in my presence.

I refer to my boss by his first name (after being invited to do so). However the people I supervise are expected to address him with his title. When I'm conversing with my boss, my peers or his peers I use his first name. But when I'm conversing with my subordinates or with my boss/peers in front of my subordinates I always use his title.  It makes it clear to them what the level of formality is.

Title: Re: Outsiders latching onto inside jokes
Post by: citadelle on January 07, 2013, 07:09:08 PM
Middle school girls use this technique to ostracize other girls. I have had girls tell me that a classmate is "trying too hard" and that's why they don't like her. They are trying to use inside jokes, etc, to exclude other girls.
Title: Re: Outsiders latching onto inside jokes
Post by: gramma dishes on January 07, 2013, 07:25:22 PM
...    However, after hearing Sue and Sally say "That's spicy" several times casually, she asks what it means. ...

Sounds to me like Sue and Sally were enjoying intentionally using "their" word around Mary, repeatedly, hoping that she'd notice and ask.  But instead of telling about the incident which precipitated the phrase, they just told her the meaning and that's not quite the same thing.

Okay, so now she knows the 'meaning' of a new use of the word spicy, even though she doesn't know exactly where it got that meaning.  I don't see how she can be faulted on that.  She IS trying to fit in with Sue and Sally  --  and they apparently are trying to leave her out. 

If they don't want her using "their" special word, then they shouldn't have used it so often around her that eventually she felt prompted to ask about it.  I think wanting her not to use the word while they continue to do so around her is cliquish.
Title: Re: Outsiders latching onto inside jokes
Post by: TootsNYC on January 07, 2013, 07:37:18 PM
I've had an "inside joke" sort of thing get picked up by someone who simply overheard it. It was annoying.

I think the way to handle it is to simply never use it in front of them again, and to go totally "dead" when they try it.

It's also permissible, I think, to say something: "That's a phrase that the two of us use together, and I'd really rather you not use it." Soften it by saying, "I'm sure we'll end up with our own catch phrase soon enough."
Title: Re: Outsiders latching onto inside jokes
Post by: Surianne on January 07, 2013, 07:45:12 PM
I think it is more situational, much like nicknames.  Meaning that someone calling a family member a nickname which might be heard by others would not automatically mean that name could be used by a new acquaintance who happened to hear it, without suggesting an attempt at level of intimacy which is not yet there.  In such a case, one might choose not to say anything to the new acquaintance (assuming they already knew the given name), but it can feel a bit awkward.  Or, for someone who is generally known by a nickname, that would be the name used in introduction, and a new acquaintance using it would be expected. 

Neither a limited, nor a general use of a nickname is "wrong" but who uses it and how can differ.

The OP offered an example, but seemed to be speaking to a more general type of occurrence, and I can think of situations where a newer acquaintance eagerly beginning to use some phrasing, or generally adopting ways of doing or saying things would read as "trying a bit too hard."

This is how I see it as well.  It's kind of strange and annoying when someone tries to jump forward to a certain familiarity level that you don't feel is appropriate yet.  It feels very awkward and uncomfortable.

It's hard to ask someone not to go there, unfortunately, without other people jumping to the same conclusions as some posters in this thread -- that the in-joke or nickname is deliberately exclusionary.

I think Toots' suggestion is the best way of handling it.  Stop using the in-joke, and don't respond favourably when the other person (Mary) uses it.  Just shut it down completely when she's around, and continue to use it away from her. 

Title: Re: Outsiders latching onto inside jokes
Post by: Lynn2000 on January 07, 2013, 07:46:14 PM
I can see both sides of it. In the example given in the OP, I think it does seem a little petty of Sue and Sally to try and prevent Mary from using a term they've repeatedly used in her presence, and explained to her. I would expect that by using it repeatedly in front of her, they were perfectly okay with her knowing about it, asking about it, and finally using it herself--like they were (subconsciously, perhaps) giving her a way to become more part of their group.

But, I also think buvezdevin has a good point about the nicknames, which IMO fall into the same general type of situation. They are more personal, as CluelessBride says, and therefore it's all the more jarring if Outsider overhears John being called "Jackie" once, by his mother, and then immediately starts calling John "Jackie" himself.

When an outsider jumps on an inside term after hearing it only once or twice, especially if it wasn't even said in conversation with Outsider but rather just within their hearing, I think that can be very awkward, and gives off that "trying too hard" vibe. I'm not sure I could really call it "rude" though...

I think you can ask someone to stop calling you by a certain nickname--"Actually, only my mom calls me Jackie, I would appreciate it if you just called me John"--but with something more like a slang term, I think once it's out there, you can't really call it back. As TootsNYC suggests, if you stop using the term for a while, it will probably lose its "value" to the outsider, and they'll stop using it, too; but now, knowing the outsider's tendency to pick up on these things, I think you have to be careful not to mention anything else you don't want them using.

But, in the Sally-Sue-Mary example, it seems like the term had been used often, and in conversation with Mary, and I think it would be rude for Sally and Sue to claim that it's now proprietary. If Mary just overheard them using it once, deduced a rough meaning from context, and then suddenly sprang it on them in their next conversation, that would be weird and awkward, and trying too hard.
Title: Re: Outsiders latching onto inside jokes
Post by: LazyDaisy on January 07, 2013, 08:09:45 PM
I wouldn't jump to the conclusion that Sue and Sally (or anyone with an inside joke) were intentionally trying to exclude, they probably just didn't really think about it when they used it. But after an oops moment where it slips out in Outsider company, I think a slang term can be kept between two people with similar phrasing that Lynn2000 used for the nickname example, but it has to be done right away either when Outsider asks about the phrase or after the first time she uses it and not after several uses. If only Sally had said, "Mary, that's a phrase Sue and I use as an inside joke between us after a specific incident, and now I realize that it was inconsiderate of us to keep using it in front of you when you aren't a part of that. I apologize." I also really like Toots wording ...""I'm sure we'll end up with our own catch phrase soon enough," but really only if that's true and Sally wanted to create that kind of bond. I personally wouldn't be comfortable going cold when she uses the phrase -- that just rubs me as junior high-ish. I would prefer the quick but kind method of letting the Outsider know they've overstepped rather than let them flounder around wondering what happened.
Title: Re: Outsiders latching onto inside jokes
Post by: LifeOnPluto on January 07, 2013, 08:12:25 PM
I think it depends on how the "Outsider" hears the inside joke.

If an inside joke is referred to deliberately and repeatedly (as it was in the OP), it's fair game for anyone else to pick up on. Therefore, I don't think Mary is rude for using the expression, and I think Sue and Sally would be clique-ish and petty if they told her she couldn't use it anymore.

However, if the "Outsider" accidentally overhears the inside joke (or otherwise finds out about it by accident), I think it's rather odd, and slightly presumptuous of the Outsider to start using the word themself. In this case, I think it would be ok for the "Insiders" to gently say "We didn't mean for you to overhear that. It's actually a special word that we use - just the two of us."
Title: Re: Outsiders latching onto inside jokes
Post by: TootsNYC on January 07, 2013, 08:31:12 PM
I can understand the "trying to hard" as a reason to not like someone. You don't have to be a petty, immature Mean Girl to be put off by this.

But I also think that if you use an "inside joke" term in front of someone more than once, it's perfectly logical for them to think that you MEANT to expand the circle to include them.

Because if you did, that's how you'd do it, right?
Title: Re: Outsiders latching onto inside jokes
Post by: Bijou on January 07, 2013, 08:44:37 PM
Quote
If anything, Sue and Sally are being a little clique-ish by rubbing their inside joke in Mary's face.

That's what I've been wanting to say but wasn't sure how to put it.  I agree.
That's what I want to say, too.  It's clique-ish.
Title: Re: Outsiders latching onto inside jokes
Post by: Coruscation on January 07, 2013, 08:56:56 PM
I think it is more situational, much like nicknames.  Meaning that someone calling a family member a nickname which might be heard by others would not automatically mean that name could be used by a new acquaintance who happened to hear it, without suggesting an attempt at level of intimacy which is not yet there.  In such a case, one might choose not to say anything to the new acquaintance (assuming they already knew the given name), but it can feel a bit awkward.  Or, for someone who is generally known by a nickname, that would be the name used in introduction, and a new acquaintance using it would be expected. 

Neither a limited, nor a general use of a nickname is "wrong" but who uses it and how can differ.

The OP offered an example, but seemed to be speaking to a more general type of occurrence, and I can think of situations where a newer acquaintance eagerly beginning to use some phrasing, or generally adopting ways of doing or saying things would read as "trying a bit too hard."

I think names are a bit different because of their inherently personal nature (and sometimes only make sense in the context of a relationship, e.g. Mamu and Pops ).  But even still, I would find it weird if I were introduced by my friend Jane to someone as "Mr. Doe" but all while we are talking she addresses him as "John" in my presence.

I refer to my boss by his first name (after being invited to do so). However the people I supervise are expected to address him with his title. When I'm conversing with my boss, my peers or his peers I use his first name. But when I'm conversing with my subordinates or with my boss/peers in front of my subordinates I always use his title.  It makes it clear to them what the level of formality is.

Conversely, my name is Kate. Only my mother calls me Katie. I don't hate it but I don't particularly like it either. I wouldn't appreciate a workmate or acquaintance calling me that. To go further, one of my uncles likes to burst into song when he sees me after an absence "K-k-k-katie, by the light of the silvery moon..." Although i have never actually found this funny, I would find it weird if anyone other than him did this as it is kind of a personal joke between us.  It wouldn't matter how often they'd seen him do this.
Title: Re: Outsiders latching onto inside jokes
Post by: citadelle on January 07, 2013, 09:00:41 PM
I can understand the "trying to hard" as a reason to not like someone. You don't have to be a petty, immature Mean Girl to be put off by this.

Maybe. But as a 7th grade teacher, it is the number 1 excuse I hear from mean girls when they want a reason to exclude.
Title: Re: Outsiders latching onto inside jokes
Post by: Lynn2000 on January 08, 2013, 10:09:20 AM
I can understand the "trying to hard" as a reason to not like someone. You don't have to be a petty, immature Mean Girl to be put off by this.

I agree. This makes me think of the thread with the acquaintance who calls and emails the OP all the time with her tales of woe, wanting to be BFF; the OP barely knows her and already wants to keep her at more of a distance because she's so exhausting. I know it's not the exact same thing, but I see it as related. There's Mean Girls, and then there's drawing boundaries about your friendships; we don't have to be friends with everyone who'd like to be friends with us. I would assume Mean Girls express this in a rude, hurtful way, whereas polite people try to back away from someone more gently and respectfully.
Title: Re: Outsiders latching onto inside jokes
Post by: MayHug on January 08, 2013, 10:28:32 AM
My daughter's ex-fiance did this the first time we met. She brought him home from college as a boyfriend. My daughter has a pet name for me that some people might find offensive. I don't , it's an inside joke with us. She called me by that name when she came in and later he used it. It felt very off, I didn't even know him. She even looked at him strange. He acted offended that I didn't appreciate him saying it. Not the only reason he became an ex ;-)
Title: Re: Outsiders latching onto inside jokes
Post by: TurtleDove on January 08, 2013, 10:48:11 AM
With the example in the OP, I can see that there is a backstory that makes "that's spicy!" and inside joke, but really, it's not an odd way of saying "that's shocking."  I would imagine that, especially since it seems the "inside joke" was never really explained, the friend doesn't even realize it's an "inside joke."  To me, without the backstory the friend never was told, it comes across much like Paris Hilton's "That's hot!"  It's not really "special inside joke" material, IMHO, especially if the friend is not told the backstory.
Title: Re: Outsiders latching onto inside jokes
Post by: bah12 on January 08, 2013, 11:18:40 AM
I just don't see how the nickname thing is the same here.  A pretty clear etiquette rule is to call someone by the name in which they introduce themselves until they tell you to call them something else (presuming you both use the same level of formality with eachother...working relationships aside).  So if someone introduces themselves to me as "Michael" and I hear thier SO call them "honey-bear", I'm not going to assume that I can call Michael honey-bear at any period of time.  It's not an "inside" joke more than it's a pet name. 

Now, if everyone called Michael "honey-bear" even when referring to him in conversation, like "Honey-bear just called and he said to meet him at 7" I might be ask why everyone calls him that and I do think it's kind of insider/outsider clique-y behavior to say "Oh, we all have this inside thing where we call him Honey-bear but you aren't part of that group so you have to call him Michael."  Not that I think there's anything wrong with a group having an inside thing or even using it in front of those who aren't in on it, but I do think these things need to be handled with carefully.

The insider joke thing is ok as long as it's not done constantly.  If Sue, Sally and Mary hang out often enough use "That's Spicy" often enough that Mary notices and asks for meaning, I do think that it's clique-y and rude for Sue and Sally to say "that's our thing and you aren't part of it." It makes it very clear that Mary is an outsider in this threesome.  In that case, they need to be more careful not use that phrase very often around Mary.  Not make it so obvious that she "doesn't belong".   Doing it once and having Mary latch on...yeah, it's annoying, but doing it often?  I think they need to be more considerate or at the least less put off by her picking up the slang.
Title: Re: Outsiders latching onto inside jokes
Post by: hobish on January 08, 2013, 11:41:09 AM
I can understand the "trying to hard" as a reason to not like someone. You don't have to be a petty, immature Mean Girl to be put off by this.

But I also think that if you use an "inside joke" term in front of someone more than once, it's perfectly logical for them to think that you MEANT to expand the circle to include them.

Because if you did, that's how you'd do it, right?

Makes sense to me.

But the real burning question here is ... How on earth does one drink hot sauce thinking it is water?
Title: Re: Outsiders latching onto inside jokes
Post by: wolfie on January 08, 2013, 12:36:09 PM
I can understand the "trying to hard" as a reason to not like someone. You don't have to be a petty, immature Mean Girl to be put off by this.

But I also think that if you use an "inside joke" term in front of someone more than once, it's perfectly logical for them to think that you MEANT to expand the circle to include them.

Because if you did, that's how you'd do it, right?

Makes sense to me.

But the real burning question here is ... How on earth does one drink hot sauce thinking it is water?

Same way you eat a jalapeno because you thought it was a pepper - you aren't paying attention to what you are doing.
Title: Re: Outsiders latching onto inside jokes
Post by: TootsNYC on January 08, 2013, 12:41:56 PM
or you have your bottle of water in one hand and the hot sauce that you were carrying to the table in the other. And you get wrapped up in talking to someone and then take a swig without thinking. (I once bit into a bar of soap that way--a cookie in one hand, the soap in the other)
Title: Re: Outsiders latching onto inside jokes
Post by: Lynn2000 on January 08, 2013, 12:55:15 PM
or you have your bottle of water in one hand and the hot sauce that you were carrying to the table in the other. And you get wrapped up in talking to someone and then take a swig without thinking. (I once bit into a bar of soap that way--a cookie in one hand, the soap in the other)

Oh, so your catchphrase for something shocking would be... "That's soapy!"  ;D
Title: Re: Outsiders latching onto inside jokes
Post by: gramma dishes on January 08, 2013, 12:59:20 PM
Why do I have a vision in my head of someone taking a huge swig of hot sauce, then smacking their head and saying "I could have had a V-8 !!"   :-\
Title: Re: Outsiders latching onto inside jokes
Post by: Moray on January 08, 2013, 01:00:52 PM
I don't think Sue and Sally were rude in using the phrase around Mary. I do think they were a little rude in continuing to use it without explaining the origin, not just the meaning. If they'd done that, it would have brought Mary "in on it" and eliminated any discomfort on all their parts.
Title: Re: Outsiders latching onto inside jokes
Post by: gramma dishes on January 08, 2013, 01:13:40 PM
I don't think Sue and Sally were rude in using the phrase around Mary. I do think they were a little rude in continuing to use it without explaining the origin, not just the meaning. If they'd done that, it would have brought Mary "in on it" and eliminated any discomfort on all their parts.

I think that's the problem though.  They didn't want Mary "in on it".

They seemed to be almost taunting her by repeating the words often enough to persuade her to ask, then intentionally left out the necessary details to indicate that it was - and why it was - a joke.  Then complained when she used the words because, don't you know?  Those words belonged to THEM and them only!
Title: Re: Outsiders latching onto inside jokes
Post by: ClaireC79 on January 09, 2013, 03:38:38 AM
I don't see it as any different to POD on here? Should only those who were around when it first started getting used to allowed to use it? or is it ok for the hundreds of newcomers who ask what it means as they see it used and it's explained to start using it as well
Title: Re: Outsiders latching onto inside jokes
Post by: Victim Of Fate on January 09, 2013, 06:33:59 AM
I can completely understand the OP's point of view here, though I don't think there's anything that can be done about it without being rude. If I'm interpreting the OP correctly, it's not that they don't want the inside joke to be shared, more that there's something slightly false about someone using a joke that references an event they weren't there for, and that they therefore can't possibly understand fully.

But, I do think that this depends on the nature of the joke. In the example given in the OP, using the phrase "That's spicy!" as an expression of surprise is vague enough that it could simply become a phrase. But if it was something much more specific then I think it might emphasise the 'falseness'. If, for example, the OP and her friend had a phrase like "wait a minute... this isn't water, it's hot sauce!", then I think it would be slightly more off-putting, because it's more a phrase of reminiscence than an inside joke, and by using it, the second friend would almost be pretending they were there for the initial incident.
Title: Re: Outsiders latching onto inside jokes
Post by: Emmy on January 09, 2013, 07:04:44 AM
I don't think Sue and Sally were rude in using the phrase around Mary. I do think they were a little rude in continuing to use it without explaining the origin, not just the meaning. If they'd done that, it would have brought Mary "in on it" and eliminated any discomfort on all their parts.

I think that's the problem though.  They didn't want Mary "in on it".

They seemed to be almost taunting her by repeating the words often enough to persuade her to ask, then intentionally left out the necessary details to indicate that it was - and why it was - a joke.  Then complained when she used the words because, don't you know?  Those words belonged to THEM and them only!

I would feel differently if the OP and her friend only used the phrase once in front of Mary or she overheard the end of a conversation they were having and started using it.  However, they used it several times in front of her when they really didn't want her in on it.  If there are 3 people in a conversation and two of them are frequently bringing up an inside joke, that is rude and exclusionary to the 3rd person.  I get the impression that the OP and her friend don't really care for Mary and were repeating an inside joke in hopes of having a private conversation in front of her.  Because they used the phrase several times, I can see why Mary would have no idea it was an inside joke, ask its meaning, and start using it to better relate to her companions.  I can understand the OP and her friend feeling annoyed that their inside joke is not longer private, however their annoyance should be at themselves for repeatedly bringing up a private joke in front of somebody else. 

I don't think there would be a kind way to tell Mary the joke is private after using it in front of her so often.  The best thing for OP and her friend to do would be to never use the phrase in front of Mary again.  Hopefully Mary will just forget it over time.
Title: Re: Outsiders latching onto inside jokes
Post by: Winterlight on January 09, 2013, 09:37:06 AM
The difference as I see: "have a shared experience with a friend that becomes part of their short hand" is of course OK, no one has said it isn't OK. But if a pair/group of friends have developed a special shorthand and they don't want others to pick it up then the onus is on the insiders to keep it among themselves, not on the outsider to know they're not to pick it up and use it.

Agreed. By using it repeatedly in front of outsiders, you're pretty much setting yourself up for them to pick up on it.

I've had an "inside joke" sort of thing get picked up by someone who simply overheard it. It was annoying.

I think the way to handle it is to simply never use it in front of them again, and to go totally "dead" when they try it.

It's also permissible, I think, to say something: "That's a phrase that the two of us use together, and I'd really rather you not use it." Soften it by saying, "I'm sure we'll end up with our own catch phrase soon enough."

I think that not using it again outside their duo is fine, but telling the third party not to use it? I'd feel pretty slapped down.
Title: Re: Outsiders latching onto inside jokes
Post by: citadelle on January 09, 2013, 09:39:52 AM
I think that not using it again outside their duo is fine, but telling the third party not to use it? I'd feel pretty slapped down.

Agreed. I think asking someone not to use the phrase would be rude.
Title: Re: Outsiders latching onto inside jokes
Post by: audrey1962 on January 09, 2013, 09:57:23 AM
This has happened to me a few times and it kinda rubs me the wrong way, probably because the Outsider seems kinda of...pushy? I guess like they're inserting themselves in an inappropriate way?

Does this bother anyone else? Would you address it or ignore it?

Mary is trying to fit in. She is a friend. I would encourage it. The more the merrier, right?
Title: Re: Outsiders latching onto inside jokes
Post by: Lynn2000 on January 09, 2013, 10:25:03 AM
But, I do think that this depends on the nature of the joke. In the example given in the OP, using the phrase "That's spicy!" as an expression of surprise is vague enough that it could simply become a phrase. But if it was something much more specific then I think it might emphasise the 'falseness'. If, for example, the OP and her friend had a phrase like "wait a minute... this isn't water, it's hot sauce!", then I think it would be slightly more off-putting, because it's more a phrase of reminiscence than an inside joke, and by using it, the second friend would almost be pretending they were there for the initial incident.

I think this is an interesting distinction. Let's say Sally and Sue are sisters, and Mary is their brother's fiancee. They want her to feel welcomed into the family. One day, in front of Mary, Sally and Sue use the phrase, "wait a minute... this isn't water, it's hot sauce!!!" and then start laughing. Mary's confused, because there's no water or hot sauce around. Again, in this scenario they want her to feel welcome, so Sally and Sue happily explain the incident from a few years ago that inspired the phrase. Now Mary knows what they mean by it, and where it comes from.

I still think it would be weird for Mary to actually use the phrase herself, because it suggests she was present at an event that happened before her time. It's like she's artificially trying to build history with the group. If she does this kind of thing often, it could be viewed as a bit insecure and desperate, like she thinks she won't be able to form new memories with the group so she's trying to insert herself into old ones. If I was Sally or Sue, I wouldn't be thinking so much that Mary is rude, as she is insecure, and if I generally liked her and wanted her to feel welcome, I would try doing other things to make her feel included and make new memories with her, so she doesn't feel the need to rather obviously co-opt situations she wasn't in.

Now, if this entire phrase has become a catchphrase of the whole family, and is already being used by people who weren't there, it would be rude to make Mary feel awkward for using it herself.
Title: Re: Outsiders latching onto inside jokes
Post by: Jaelle on January 09, 2013, 11:14:26 AM
Just reread the OP. It doesn't say the original two actively wanted Mary to stop using the phase. Just that it felt ... off.

I can understand that. My DH has this immense pack of close friends, many of whom he's known since elementary school. They have a lot of backstory ... and a lot of inside jokes. It's not that they're trying to exclude people, just that those words and phrases have so well and truly entered their lexicon that they use them as easily as they breathe. I'm thinking of one word in particular that they use in a particular context that could mystify newcomers, including me.

Now, they happily explained all the in-jokes at a raised eyebrow, even in those early days. But it would still have felt odd to me, as a newcomer to the group (when DH and I were first dating) to just start using them, even when I knew the background, meaning and origin. It would be assuming a relationship that just wasn't there.

Today I use those phrases as easily as I breathe, too. :) And I have to explain them to people if I goof and let one slip. But if a friend of mine who didn't know DH or his friends just started using them ... I would feel it was odd, too.

I really feel like the original two are dragging rather dragged over the coals here.  :-\  And I don't see how they did anything at all wrong.
Title: Re: Outsiders latching onto inside jokes
Post by: Allyson on January 09, 2013, 11:30:18 AM
I can see situations where it would be annoying, what Mary was doing. But I don't think there's much that can be done at this point. Especially if it is just a one-word description like 'spicy', it doesn't seem that odd that Mary would pick up on it. I *love* spreading weird catchphrases and so on with people. If a slang word I've picked up 'goes viral' I feel a little happy anytime someone uses it, like having a book published and seeing someone reading it on a much smaller scale. So if it seems like it could be something like that, I don't think Mary's doing anything wrong.

I can see the other side of it, too, but it's hard to verbalize without coming off as mean. It can feel odd and awkward for someone to pick up on a shared experience they weren't there for. Three friends and I went backpacking through Europe a few years ago, and we have quite a few little in-jokes from that, many of which we've explained to people because, well, they're funny! They've all found those things funny, but none of them have started talking about those experiences in an overly familiar way--it might feel sort of odd if they did. I can't quite articulate the difference between this and the above catching a viral catchphrase, though.
Title: Re: Outsiders latching onto inside jokes
Post by: Minmom3 on January 09, 2013, 11:53:18 AM
IMO, Mary is trying a little too hard to join in, but you can't shut that down without being a complete hag, so you're stuck with it...
Title: Re: Outsiders latching onto inside jokes
Post by: Yvaine on January 09, 2013, 12:15:08 PM
I can see situations where it would be annoying, what Mary was doing. But I don't think there's much that can be done at this point. Especially if it is just a one-word description like 'spicy', it doesn't seem that odd that Mary would pick up on it. I *love* spreading weird catchphrases and so on with people. If a slang word I've picked up 'goes viral' I feel a little happy anytime someone uses it, like having a book published and seeing someone reading it on a much smaller scale. So if it seems like it could be something like that, I don't think Mary's doing anything wrong.

Me too! :) I've had that happen and it always tickles me a little.
Title: Re: Outsiders latching onto inside jokes
Post by: shivering on January 09, 2013, 12:22:21 PM
Mary was feeling insecure and trying too hard to fit in. It's not rude of Sue and Sally to bring up the inside joke on occasion as long as they're not overusing it or dwelling on it.

However, you can't tell Mary not to use the phrase without coming off like a real pill. Best thing to do is not to say it around her and gloss over it when she uses it. Hopefully she'll get the hint.
Title: Re: Outsiders latching onto inside jokes
Post by: gramma dishes on January 09, 2013, 12:27:28 PM


...    It can feel odd and awkward for someone to pick up on a shared experience they weren't there for.  ...

But she not only didn't "share" the experience, she apparently wasn't even told about it.  They just told her what the word meant.  Not how it came to be used that way.  So she isn't trying to emulate or place herself in their shared experience.  She just thinks she's learned a new usage for a vocabulary word.

Yes, she's doing it to try to 'fit in', but that's a compliment isn't it?  If she knew the story and then latched onto the word, I'd admit that maybe I'd find that a little more annoying because it would be her more or less pretending that she was part of the story and she clearly wasn't.
Title: Re: Outsiders latching onto inside jokes
Post by: ladyknight1 on January 09, 2013, 01:00:25 PM
I would find an "inside" phrase used repeatedly as in the OP to be exclusive behavior and not welcoming to new people. I wouldn't do it, as I think it is rude.
Title: Re: Outsiders latching onto inside jokes
Post by: Kiwichick on January 09, 2013, 01:38:00 PM
But, I do think that this depends on the nature of the joke. In the example given in the OP, using the phrase "That's spicy!" as an expression of surprise is vague enough that it could simply become a phrase. But if it was something much more specific then I think it might emphasise the 'falseness'. If, for example, the OP and her friend had a phrase like "wait a minute... this isn't water, it's hot sauce!", then I think it would be slightly more off-putting, because it's more a phrase of reminiscence than an inside joke, and by using it, the second friend would almost be pretending they were there for the initial incident.

I think this is an interesting distinction. Let's say Sally and Sue are sisters, and Mary is their brother's fiancee. They want her to feel welcomed into the family. One day, in front of Mary, Sally and Sue use the phrase, "wait a minute... this isn't water, it's hot sauce!!!" and then start laughing. Mary's confused, because there's no water or hot sauce around. Again, in this scenario they want her to feel welcome, so Sally and Sue happily explain the incident from a few years ago that inspired the phrase. Now Mary knows what they mean by it, and where it comes from.

I still think it would be weird for Mary to actually use the phrase herself, because it suggests she was present at an event that happened before her time. It's like she's artificially trying to build history with the group. If she does this kind of thing often, it could be viewed as a bit insecure and desperate, like she thinks she won't be able to form new memories with the group so she's trying to insert herself into old ones. If I was Sally or Sue, I wouldn't be thinking so much that Mary is rude, as she is insecure, and if I generally liked her and wanted her to feel welcome, I would try doing other things to make her feel included and make new memories with her, so she doesn't feel the need to rather obviously co-opt situations she wasn't in.

Now, if this entire phrase has become a catchphrase of the whole family, and is already being used by people who weren't there, it would be rude to make Mary feel awkward for using it herself.

See, if my brother's fiancée actually used one of our in jokes in a context we'd use it in I'd think that she's just like us and 'gets' us too.  I absolutely wouldn't see anything insecure about it at all, in fact I'd be pleasantly surprised that she got it and wanted to join in.

I don't think understanding the joke implies she's pretending she was there either.
Title: Re: Outsiders latching onto inside jokes
Post by: TootsNYC on January 09, 2013, 03:26:15 PM
IMO, Mary is trying a little too hard to join in, but you can't shut that down without being a complete hag, so you're stuck with it...

Such a succinct summing-up!
Title: Re: Outsiders latching onto inside jokes
Post by: Lynn2000 on January 09, 2013, 03:39:55 PM
See, if my brother's fiancée actually used one of our in jokes in a context we'd use it in I'd think that she's just like us and 'gets' us too.  I absolutely wouldn't see anything insecure about it at all, in fact I'd be pleasantly surprised that she got it and wanted to join in.

I don't think understanding the joke implies she's pretending she was there either.

I do think it depends somewhat on the exact phrasing of the joke, too. Let's say that one time, the sisters had to go somewhere in Cleveland, and Sally was so confident she knew where it was that she didn't bring the directions. She and Sue got horribly lost. Looking back, it's kind of funny; so whenever Sally gets overconfident that she knows where something is, Sue says, "Hey, remember what happened in Cleveland!" as a reminder to bring the directions. Other people in the family may understand the reference, but let's say that no one but Sally and Sue actually say it to each other--it's not just a family catchphrase meaning "bring the directions."

I think it would be weird if Mary suddenly said, "Hey, remember what happened in Cleveland!" when the situation arises. She doesn't remember what happened in Cleveland, because she wasn't in Cleveland. And to me, this phrasing really implies that she was there, and she's referencing this specific event that she was part of (but she wasn't). Also, it suggests she hasn't been around the family enough to realize that no one but Sally and Sue say this.

I do think this is far from a universal discomfort, though. Some families would think it was great that she was trying to join in with their traditions and phrases, and would be understanding if she didn't quite have them right yet (e.g., not realizing that only Sally and Sue say this phrase to each other). Others would be more like, "Huh? That's a little odd. It feels like she's trying too hard." And then hopefully they would say, "What can we do to help her relax, and feel like she doesn't have to try so hard?" I.e., respond in a kind way that continues to welcome Mary, because responding coldly to her misappropriation of the phrase would not bode well for relations between her and the in-laws.

I do realize I've changed the original scenario somewhat. But as it was a hypothetical/generalized scenario, I think it's okay to explore other options.
Title: Re: Outsiders latching onto inside jokes
Post by: kitchcat on January 09, 2013, 05:51:58 PM
OP back again!

To clarify: the scenario I presented was a hypothetical, general example.

I think it would be weird if Mary suddenly said, "Hey, remember what happened in Cleveland!" when the situation arises. She doesn't remember what happened in Cleveland, because she wasn't in Cleveland. And to me, this phrasing really implies that she was there, and she's referencing this specific event that she was part of (but she wasn't). Also, it suggests she hasn't been around the family enough to realize that no one but Sally and Sue say this.

I still think it would be weird for Mary to actually use the phrase herself, because it suggests she was present at an event that happened before her time. It's like she's artificially trying to build history with the group.

This is what I was thinking when I made the OP, but I couldn't seem to word it out. 

The actual reason I made the OP was because someone decided to use an inside joke between DH and I that originated from an experience on our honeymoon. It was really awkward because...

Hope that explains more what I was trying to express as opposed to "mean girl" clique-ishness.
Title: Re: Outsiders latching onto inside jokes
Post by: AnnaJ on January 09, 2013, 06:10:00 PM
OP back again!

To clarify: the scenario I presented was a hypothetical, general example.

I think it would be weird if Mary suddenly said, "Hey, remember what happened in Cleveland!" when the situation arises. She doesn't remember what happened in Cleveland, because she wasn't in Cleveland. And to me, this phrasing really implies that she was there, and she's referencing this specific event that she was part of (but she wasn't). Also, it suggests she hasn't been around the family enough to realize that no one but Sally and Sue say this.

I still think it would be weird for Mary to actually use the phrase herself, because it suggests she was present at an event that happened before her time. It's like she's artificially trying to build history with the group.

This is what I was thinking when I made the OP, but I couldn't seem to word it out. 

The actual reason I made the OP was because someone decided to use an inside joke between DH and I that originated from an experience on our honeymoon. It was really awkward because...
  • The joke is very specific and would make no sense at all unless they were told the story behind it. (Not like the more adoptable "That's spicy" example.)
  • I never directly said this inside joke to the person. They overhead me using it with DH. However, they had been told the story that inspired the joke, so they obviously connected the dots and decided to use it when talking to me.
  • This person was obviously not present at our honeymoon. It was really awkward that they were trying to get "in" on such an intimate joke.

Hope that explains more what I was trying to express as opposed to "mean girl" clique-ishness.


When you say 'overheard' do you mean you were having a private conversation with your husband and the other person heard the word/phrase, or were you all participating in a general conversation and you said the word/phrase to your husband as part of the general conversation?

If the person overheard you use it with your husband once, that person is definitely overreaching their boundaries.  If you have repeatedly used the word/phrase in front of this person then it may seem 'off' (to you) for them to use it but  I can see why they would not think of it as personal or intimate if you had used it openly.
Title: Re: Outsiders latching onto inside jokes
Post by: bah12 on January 10, 2013, 10:01:21 AM
OP back again!

To clarify: the scenario I presented was a hypothetical, general example.

I think it would be weird if Mary suddenly said, "Hey, remember what happened in Cleveland!" when the situation arises. She doesn't remember what happened in Cleveland, because she wasn't in Cleveland. And to me, this phrasing really implies that she was there, and she's referencing this specific event that she was part of (but she wasn't). Also, it suggests she hasn't been around the family enough to realize that no one but Sally and Sue say this.

I still think it would be weird for Mary to actually use the phrase herself, because it suggests she was present at an event that happened before her time. It's like she's artificially trying to build history with the group.

This is what I was thinking when I made the OP, but I couldn't seem to word it out. 

The actual reason I made the OP was because someone decided to use an inside joke between DH and I that originated from an experience on our honeymoon. It was really awkward because...
  • The joke is very specific and would make no sense at all unless they were told the story behind it. (Not like the more adoptable "That's spicy" example.)
  • I never directly said this inside joke to the person. They overhead me using it with DH. However, they had been told the story that inspired the joke, so they obviously connected the dots and decided to use it when talking to me.
  • This person was obviously not present at our honeymoon. It was really awkward that they were trying to get "in" on such an intimate joke.

Hope that explains more what I was trying to express as opposed to "mean girl" clique-ishness.

The clarication is very different from the scenario in the OP.  Not so much because "That's Spicy" is easily adoptable, but because your example in the OP had two people use the phrase in front of the third several times.  That's not the same as not using the phrase in front of the third party and them overhearing.

For this scenario, I think the third party is a bit socially awkward.  I would never ask someone (much less adopt) something specific about a conversation I was not meant to hear.
Title: Re: Outsiders latching onto inside jokes
Post by: Yvaine on January 10, 2013, 10:14:04 AM
OP back again!

To clarify: the scenario I presented was a hypothetical, general example.

I think it would be weird if Mary suddenly said, "Hey, remember what happened in Cleveland!" when the situation arises. She doesn't remember what happened in Cleveland, because she wasn't in Cleveland. And to me, this phrasing really implies that she was there, and she's referencing this specific event that she was part of (but she wasn't). Also, it suggests she hasn't been around the family enough to realize that no one but Sally and Sue say this.

I still think it would be weird for Mary to actually use the phrase herself, because it suggests she was present at an event that happened before her time. It's like she's artificially trying to build history with the group.

This is what I was thinking when I made the OP, but I couldn't seem to word it out. 

The actual reason I made the OP was because someone decided to use an inside joke between DH and I that originated from an experience on our honeymoon. It was really awkward because...
  • The joke is very specific and would make no sense at all unless they were told the story behind it. (Not like the more adoptable "That's spicy" example.)
  • I never directly said this inside joke to the person. They overhead me using it with DH. However, they had been told the story that inspired the joke, so they obviously connected the dots and decided to use it when talking to me.
  • This person was obviously not present at our honeymoon. It was really awkward that they were trying to get "in" on such an intimate joke.

Hope that explains more what I was trying to express as opposed to "mean girl" clique-ishness.

The clarication is very different from the scenario in the OP.  Not so much because "That's Spicy" is easily adoptable, but because your example in the OP had two people use the phrase in front of the third several times.  That's not the same as not using the phrase in front of the third party and them overhearing.

For this scenario, I think the third party is a bit socially awkward.  I would never ask someone (much less adopt) something specific about a conversation I was not meant to hear.

Especially between romantic partners--I'd worry it meant something really intimate!  ;) ;D The accidental overhearing and it being a married couple change everything!
Title: Re: Outsiders latching onto inside jokes *clarification post #68*
Post by: NyaChan on January 10, 2013, 10:17:18 AM
I agree with Yvaine and bah12 - the actual situation is exactly the sort where using the inside joke is uncomfortable and inappropriate.  1) the joke was overheard, 2) it was between romantic partners, and 3) it was connected to a private, romantic event - nothing that anyone other than those two partners has any business referring to or horning in on.
Title: Re: Outsiders latching onto inside jokes *clarification post #68*
Post by: TootsNYC on January 10, 2013, 10:21:50 AM
I can totally see my MIL doing this sort of thing. She'd have heard the story; and then I'd say the phrase to my husband in a semi-private conversation (we're talking to each other in the living room and she's by the kitchen door doing something else, so of course she can hear but she's not really in our conversation).

It would bug me.

And in that situation, I think I would say, "That's a joke that's just for us, because it came from our honeymoon. Please don't use it."

Even if it wasn't romantic--it's ours.

It's not like we included her in it--and she's going to sometimes witness some intimacy between us. That doesn't mean she gets to be in the middle of it.

My MIL has done something sort of similar--not as intimate. My DH and I used to use the "shave and a haircut, two bits" code on the apartment-buzzer to mean, "don't ask who it is, just come straight down, it's your spouse and I need you down here right now." (usually because I had to go back to the car at the curb where the little kids were sleeping, so that I didn't leave them unattended, or perhaps because I'm double parked and unloading groceries, or something)

She saw me do it one time when she was with me, and I explained what it meant (bcs I had to explain why I didn't wait for him to say something through the speaker). And the next time she visited, instead of just pushing the buzzer once, she did the "shave and a haircut" rhythm.

After the third time she did it, I told her that this had a specific meaning and we didn't want her to use it unless she needed us to come down and help her carry something.

But I can see her trying to be part of our couple-dom by using some little code phrase like that. And I'd say something nicely. Even if it wasn't romantic or sexual; it's ours, it's part of our couple bonding.
Title: Re: Outsiders latching onto inside jokes *clarification post #68*
Post by: Lynn2000 on January 10, 2013, 12:57:01 PM
I remember the MIL and the buzzer story. That would be annoying especially because it's a semi-emergency signal--you hear it and you hurry downstairs to help your spouse with something, only to see your MIL standing there going, "Hi, it's me!"  ::)

I do think the modified scenario from the OP falls into inappropriate/weird territory--an overheard phrase used once by a couple? However, unless there are practical consequences--like with the buzzer example--I'm not sure you can really say anything. Just kind of blink at the person in surprise and not really respond otherwise. And of course be sure not to use it at all around them again. The novelty of it will probably wear off for them after a while, especially if it doesn't seem to have the desired effect of drawing them into your circle more.
Title: Re: Outsiders latching onto inside jokes *clarification post #68*
Post by: Bijou on January 10, 2013, 02:22:00 PM
I think the original post was nothing like the clarification in post 68.  I stand by my opinion of the original post sounding clique-ish.
In post 68 it is an entirely different scenario.  I don't think the outsider can be blamed for using the joke when it and the honeymoon story were shared with her.  Sharing it took it out of the area of being private.  Maybe not your intention but I can see how she feels that she is now an insider to the joke.  (I wouldn't, but some people may).