Tangent Conversations – Annoying!!!!

Foreword:  This is by far my favorite post of 2009 so far.  It will give you insight into how I work and engage myself with others online.  If you see yourself being pestered by me, or you see me irritated, it is because you are trying to engage yourself into a tangent conversation that I want no part of.  Remember that. ~ Versatile

This post will be easy for me to write, compared to the various tutorials I like to put up on this blog from time to time.  So what is on my mind this time?  Being a blog author, and an Internet enthusiast, as well as a person who loves to game and chat online, I meet a lot of interesting people online.  These people come from all walks of the Earth, whether it is a random occurence from hamachi, from this blog, e-mail, forums, Garena, and other social type networks.

I may not know the thousands of people that visit this site, but I”m sure they recognize who I am.  Are you one of these people?  You must be if you are reading this post. :0

Time to the meat of this conversation.  When I talk to people, there is usually one thing I like to ask, and that is where they are from.  It gives me the sense of this “global community” that we are participating in, and plus it helps out with timezones.  If a person I know is in Austrailia, and another person is in the Phillipines, I can time gaming sessions or talking sessions very easily based on my own time zone here.

These days I don’t try to ask how old people are, because sadly enough that may or may not change my percepton on the person.  If a person I am talking to seems to know what he is talking about, and eventually the age question comes up, I tell them mine and they tell me theirs.

A lot of my intereaction with the peers on the Internet is mainly teenagers, but there are also a handful of other people that are past their 20’s and higher.  I have no issues with that, in fact, I prefer the older crowd and now this is my time to tell you why.

I have no idea what it is. I”m in my mid-twenties, and I am a working professional.  I used to be a huge gamer in my younger years, but no longer.  Sitting at a PC playing games 6 hours straight is not very time productive.  As I’ve gotten older, I’ve developed my own personal mantras.  “Don’t be a tool” is one of them, and the second mantra I live up to is “Tiime is precious”.  We all have the same 24 hours, correct?  Some people spend a majority of that time working, or school.  After that, you got about maybe 6-7 hours before you sleep.

For sake of argument, on a typical weekday, a person has about 7 hours of free time, and on the weekend let’s bump up that number to 16 hours of free time.  For the typical teenager, perhaps 40 percent of that time is dedicated to school related items (plays, concerts, sports, homework, studying, etc.).  The remaining 60 percent is so called “free time”. Some people spend it by playing video games, maybe socializing, doing extra-currricular activities, working on a hobby, etc.

The same type of idea can be said for a college student, and a single adult, and a person in a family.  Bottom line is people more or less have a lot of free time on most occasions.  How you spend this time will depend on what you want to do in life.  As I have stated earlier, when I was younger, I was a huge gamer in my teen years because I didn’t have committments.  I had no job, school work was done, so I was bored.

Now that I finished college and I am working, my time is much for limited.  After work, I want to relax, or maybe read a book or study up for the future.  Playing games all the time is not that enticing to me anymore.  Time to me is important, and I am a big supporter of “Life multi-tasking”.

One of the biggest things I try to do when I am on the computer is hardcore multi-tasking. If I am writing a paper, I download stuff in the background.  I hate to WASTE CPU cycles. I run a dual core machine, and it makes no sense to run at full speed when I only need perhaps half the computing power for surfing the Internet.  Hence, that is why I own a netbook.

I try to utilize my time as wisely as I can.  I encode movies while I sleep, or I download stuff when I am at work.  I am very distraught and irritated by people when I tell them to download something and they say “Sorry, I don’t have the time right now, I’m working on a paper.”

To that I say, “Why don’t you download in the background while writing the paper?  When the paper is done, your download is done. Simple.”

Am I totally off track here?

There is one mini rant, and I hope you can figure out that my time is important to me.  I will bring this down to earth with some of my real life examples.

Example 1

Chatting Online:  I like to chat online for chit chat, but most of the time if you are talking to me, make sure it is worth talking about.

How’s the weather?  How do you do this PC issue?  What is a good program to use for this type of application?  Can you help me with L4D?

These type of questions are OK.  I can deal with them. The conversations that really bug me are the ones like below:

So yesterday I went to Wal-Mart and standing at the stereo section was this big fat lady! OMG, she was huge!  The red dress she was wearing, I could have sworn it would bust at any minute!  I told my friend “Hey, they are giving out free popcorn!  Can’t you smell the butter?!!!!”  And the fat lady said “Popcorn!!!!  Where?!!!”

OMG, it was hilarious!  Jake and I just busted out laughing and we ran.  How was your day?

*groans*  This type of story is unsolicited.  In many cases, people just IM me and start chatting on random stuff. I DID not initiate the conversation, they did.  It is as if telling me their stories is supposed to be entertaining or something.  Honestly, I do not care.  In instances like this, I may make an attempt and say “LOL, thats awesome!”  But deep down I don’t care.  Stop wasting my time, seriously.

Example 2

Hey, are you there?  Check this out!  <inserts some video link or joke link or whatever>  Pretty cool eh?  So today I did this and that and …… (5 minutes later)

The person’s story just stops. Rather than ask continuing questions like “Oh yea, what happened?  Go on.  Tell me more?  Or other tangent questions, I just stop talking.  Make it a one sided conversation.  Let the person tell what he needs to say and then move on.

I make no attempt to reply back, because:

  • Don’t care about the guy’s story.
  • Not worth my time to respond.
  • Don’t have a good answer to respond back with.
  • Other pressing issues I cannot discuss at this time.

Example 3

Sometimes I get into some good discussions with the other person on a particular subject.  And then somehow the person asks a question or brings up a new topic, that could easily get both parties off track for another good hour or so?  Ever been in that situation before?  People who have girlfriends or boyfriends, you know exactly what I am talking about.  You talk about school, and then somehow it transforms itself into movies, which then leads into politics, and then into music, and etc.

The same kind of randomness does occur on the Internet. I don’t mind it, but most of the time these days I am getting fed up about it.  Part of it is my fault too.  Someone says something, and I ask more questions or what if questions to get their mind rolling.  These are called Tangent Conversations.  This is so important I am going to go more detail in the next section.

What is a Tangent Conversation?

A “Tangent Conversation” is a conversation that you did not envision yourself talking about, but somehow after X amount of time later, you find yourself talking about some thing you never wanted or intended to talk about.

Example:  Xbox is better than PS3!  No way man, PS3 is better, and this is why….

As you start debating Xbox versus PS3, the subject of games come up, and your friend starts talking about RTS games and how they are awesome for the console gamer, but you are a PC gamer so you start ranting about how the keyboard/mouse owns the controller anyday.  Before you know it, you are on a new Tangent Conversation!

Originally, you may have only decided to talk a few minutes about the Xbox vs PS3 debacle, but somehow you guys talk about gaming in general for over an hour!  Is that what you wanted to do, considering you have more important things to do?  Of course not!  But yet, you got suckered into the heat of the discussion with the tangent questions.

Below is a capture of a text log of a Garena chat where I got suckered into a real life Tangent Conversation.  In this discussion, a person says that “Pirated L4D sucks”, and then we start talking about it, well almost.

[19:11:52] <litogoodboi> pirated l4d sucks
[19:11:57] <litogoodboi> real one is better >.>
[19:12:00] <Ettokun> Uhh..
[19:12:02] <versatileninja> in what sense
[19:12:03] <Ettokun> They’re the same?
[19:12:05] <versatileninja> its the same game
[19:12:06] <versatileninja> minus
[19:12:07] <versatileninja> the steam part
[19:12:23] <Ettokun> He’s just trying to attack piracy with flawed logic.
[19:12:37] <litogoodboi> steams got more people playing
[19:12:56] <Ettokun> Hahah, you obviously don’t spend much time in the underground scene.
[19:13:08] <litogoodboi> uhh
[19:13:09] <litogoodboi> tf?
[19:13:23] <versatileninja> look at it this way
[19:13:25] <Ettokun> I bet the amount of people who have Left 4 Dead nonsteam rival the people with a legit copy.
[19:13:53] <versatileninja> anyone keep up with the demigod story? on release day, 18k legit players, versus 120k non-legit players,
[19:13:56] <litogoodboi> nice to know
[19:13:59] <versatileninja> the demigod servers crashed on launch day
[19:14:05] <versatileninja> so you see, piracy has a huge backing
[19:14:07] <versatileninja> even l4d
[19:14:25] <versatileninja> people will find a way to sustain
[19:14:29] <versatileninja> steam is not the answer
[19:14:30] <Ettokun> In any case, why would you come in here with that line? “Pirated l4d sucks”?
[19:14:40] <Ettokun> As if you’re trying to teach us something.
[19:14:42] <versatileninja> garena is not the only answer
[19:14:49] <versatileninja> but ppl will find their own personal answers to make this work
[19:15:16] <Ettokun> Stab yourself for eternity then.
[19:15:17] <versatileninja> hypocrites?
[19:15:29] <versatileninja> you say pirated l4d sucks, yet , i am assuming you are using pirated l4d?
[19:15:55] <versatileninja> beggers cant be choosers, i know people who are damn happy to be playing l4d online right now, what have you say to those ppl?
[19:16:00] <versatileninja> want to crush their spirits? their gaming dreams?
[19:16:43] <versatileninja> if that is what you want to be, a hammer, then go ahead
[19:16:46] <versatileninja> not me xD
[19:18:04] <versatileninja> I was hoping for an enlightening resposne from someone?
[19:18:21] <Ettokun> Maybe he wants to be a better tool.
[19:18:26] <Ettokun> Like a saw.

It’s a shame that litogoodboi didn’t respond, or is it?  If he did, then I’m sure Ettokun and myself would be bickering for another good 15 minutes easily!   This is a tangent conversation.  Before this conversation started, I was helping someone learn to host, and then litogoodboi comes in talking about pirated L4D sucks and here we are now. ;0

Now let’s see what we can do to fight off these tangent conversations.  You need to know how to recognize a tangent question, and how to react to these type of situations.

What is a tangent question?

Definition: Tangent question maybe a deliberate or unintentional question that invokes a response on a subject that you were not planning to talk about.

Tangent questions come in many forms.  Most of the time they come in a form of a question.

Example: Are all terrorists evil?

Sometimes a tangent question can be hidden inside a comment and not be a question, yet invoke other tangent questions.


Person A:  My dog is awesome.  He can pick up my shoes, chase out the rats, and best of all, turn on my xbox!  Thank God I did the special Leo trick.

Person B:  What is the Leo trick?

Can you identify the mistake here?  Person B asked a tangent question!!!!  The mere act of asking “What is the Leo trick” invokes a story to be told by Person A.  Honestly, 20 minutes from now, do you care?  I don’t!

If I was Person B, you know what I would do?  I wouldn’t even bother responding.  Let it be a one sided conversation.  If you are willing to be engaged and spend time discussing the topic, that is OK.  However, if you really don’t have the time to get into the details, or don’t care about the topic, then don’t engage yourself!

How Do I Stop Getting Involved Into Tangent Conversations?

This is easy.  Here are the methods that I use from time to time:

  • Let it be a one sided conversation.  Do not engage unless you WANT to or want to learn about the topic further.
  • Do not ask open ended questions unless you want to drag out the conversation longer.
  • Do not invoke the other person. Do not insult, or make fun of them, as they will retaliate and get you into defensive mode and then the conversation starts to get longer.
  • If you are discussing one subject, and the other person tries to start another subject without finishing the previous one, tell him to stop until the current subject is done discussing.
  • If you have an answer to someone’s question, and you have a choice between the simple answer and the long answer, go with the simple.
  • If you want to learn more about a particular subject but don’t have the time to go over it now, don’t bother talking about it until next time.
  • If you find yourself asking a question that can lead into a possible tangent conversation, don’t bother asking it.  Searching on google may find your answer faster on the topic than asking your buddy about it.

These are the main methods that I currently use.  As new ones come up, I will update this list.  If you are have some good suggestions, leave a comment and I will add it to the list above too!

Humiliation Time!

I end this fair long rant with screenshot I had with a fellow undergrounder.  Actually, this person came from youtube, and then it evolved into exchange of MSN ids, and now look what I am stuck with! :/

Background story: “Paul” is chatting to me on MSN.  Apparently, his sister got him a virus on his computer, and he does not want to format his hard drive, which is understandable.  He did use AVG, but I told him to get Avira Antivirus.  He had the nerve to ask for a download link, to which I replied “Bah, isn’t this what search engines are for?!”

This response made him quiet for a minute and then he said he is downloading it, and he asked if this was free, which I *groaned* and answered yes.

Bottom line:  He didn’t uninstall AVG, installed Avira Antivirus, and is scanning the hard drive.  It stops at 97% scan at the System32 folder in which where the virus lives.  I told him to uninstall the AVG, reboot PC, and start the scan over in that folder directly.  The screenshot conversation then carries further by him telling me thanks.

paul msn

Let’s analyze this conversation, because in the short time I have been with “Paul” for the last week, I see he is a great tangent conversationalist.

  • He asks me to get on google talk.  My assumption?  He wants to voip.  I don’t have time to voip, and if I did, I know he will ask me more stuff or show me some of his gaming videos that I do not care about.  I tell him flat out no.
  • He asks why I said no.  I gave him a blunt answer.  He almost asks for a reason but decides not to ask.  Good.
  • I am irritated at this point, and told him I gave him the tools he is looking for, and that he does not need my presence any further.  Note: I am working on this blog post when this MSN chat came up. :0
  • Paul has the balls to ask “is the short scan thing Luke file walker?”

At this point in time, I am mad irritated.  First of all, I don’t care what is a frickin’ Luke file walker. Nor do I ask a tangent question for clarification.  You can see my methods in work here.

  • After I said what is a Luke file walker, he has the frickin’ nerve to say he doesn’t know either!!!!
  • WTF!  At this point I am pissed.  Why does he mess with me and my time, and even worse, he has no answer.
  • I am blunt and answer with “stop wasting my time with these petty tangents plz”.
  • He answers with “…”
  • Guess what? I don’t frickin care, and he stops pestering me.  Finally, I can focus and breathe!

This is a prime example of a tangent conversation, and one way to get out of it.  I have more important things to worry about in life than stupid gay Luke file walker.  LOL!  Oh well, life goes on, right?


I hope you learned something about me today.  This is a deep post, and I had a blast writing it because it is very real, and I think it is something that many of us can relate to whether it is online, at work, at home, or wherever.  Learn to not get sucked into tangent conversations.

In my research, the younger crowd (especially teenagers) are notorious for tangent conversations.  This is OK for certain occasions and for teens to talk among teens, but to have a teen get into a tangent conversation like myself you can expect irritation in return.

Thanks for reading this post guys, and if you have similar stories or methods to defeat tangent conversations, please leave a comment! Sometime soon I will have new polls on tangent conversations and feedback from the community on this topic.

Posted on May 8, 2009, in Advice, Life, News and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. This post is amazing..
    No one it was on the top 5 posts of 2009 list !!

    As i am a frequent user of YM, i think i’m a big witness to the whole tangent conversation scenario.

    And this post really does explain the unexplainable feeling !!

  2. A primer for those who do not know about tangent conversations.

  3. I was called out on for being tangent in a conversation. It was unexpected and I just couldn’t stop…perhaps trying to drum up some sort of conversation? Yes. But I reflected on it and saw what caused it. I am determined to prevent it from happening again. Thanks for your post. It is appreciated.

  1. Pingback: Underground 2009 – Versatile’s Top 5 Favorite Posts « Welcome to the Underground.

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