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Embarrassment Manifest

One of the reasons I love Ask MetaFilter is that I often come across questions that I’m very curious about, but would never have thought to articulate. This question is one of those:

When I think of / remember something embarrassing from my life, I compulsively make some kind of noise. It seems to happen unconsciously, before my censor can catch it and stop myself (it even happens when I am in a quiet or inappropriate place). It’s not especially loud, in fact it’s often under my breath. The sound is usually just a quiet grunt, or a word/syllable or two. … It usually only happens when I’m remembering something palpably embarrassing or humiliating from my life — not for mild everyday kind of stuff. … So what is this, do I have some kind of low-grade tourette’s syndrome? Is there a name for this phenomenon? Does it happen to others or is it unique to me?

This happens to me sporadically, and from the dozens of responses on Ask MeFi, it’s not uncommon.

August 3, 2008 / Uncategorized


Omg. I do this too. There should be a name for the noise.

And I usually scrunch my face a little, like a wince.

There are some super-interesting variations in the MeFi thread!– this obvs belongs in the “Braiiins” category too. Brains are weird.

Ben says…

omg so true. just happened to me this past weekend, completely out of the blue. i think i stomped my foot, then looked around to see if anyone noticed.

My nominations for a name: a shamezinger, shamebubble, cringepop …

You know when you’re walking one way, and another person’s walking the other, and you both try to get out of each other’s way, and you wind up actually stepping in the same direction, once, twice, three times (but never more than three), at which time you both laugh nervously (flirtatiously, if you’re attracted to the other person) and one of you stops altogether to let the other person pass?

Well, I call that dance a “faux pas de deux.”

Therefore, I think that the nervous self-embarassed snort should be called a “faux pas d’un.”

Tim: Although incredibly cheesy, I still find it charming when men say “shall we dance” when that happens.

Re: blog post topic: I do that all the time. It’s usually a quick sucking in of air or bringing my hand up to my mouth. Like if I can somehow psychologically reverse the memory I can undo the embarrassing moment.

Alexis, you would find me irrepressibly charming. Because that’s what I say.

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