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Dear Hoskins Brothers,

I find that I often offend others. Are there any tricks to noticing when I am starting to cross the line? Social cues? Facial markers?

Thanks,

—Asked willingly, kinda, wanting any real direction

Dear AWKWARD,

You must be a computer science major. As a fellow computer scientist, I empathize — it can be hard to tell what people are thinking. Lucky for you, I’ve done my research. First, look around. Is someone you were just talking to crying? If so, it may be your fault. You might want to apologize and avoid saying whatever it was you just said ever again. Second, stop for a moment and check your body. Have you been punched in the face? If so, then you probably offended someone. You should avoid them — they’ll probably want to hit you again.

In all seriousness, if you do have problem understanding other people’s facial expressions and empathizing, you may have a mild form of autism, such as Asperger’s. If you feel this is a big issue affecting your life, you may want to see a doctor or psychiatrist.

Or it could just be that you’re just mean. You might want to try being nicer to people.

Look ’em in the eyes,

—Patrick Hoskins

Dear Hoskins Brothers,

I’m a first-year who made a group of friends at the beginning of Orientation, and I’m worried that we’re not meant to be. I keep finding out things about them that I don’t like, but I don’t want to lose them and have no social life. What do you suggest I do?

—Frequently rethinking Orientation social habits

Dear FROSH,

I understand how hard it can be to make new friends. However, you have to stop and ask yourself — are these the kind of people you want to be associated with for the next four years? If the answer is no, then you need to start making some new friends. It can be intimidating, but people are a lot nicer than you think. If you see a cool-looking person, just walk up to them, strike up a conversation, and ask if they want to hang out. Try joining some clubs or organizations around campus; they’re a great way to make friends. I know it can be intimidating and awkward to try making friends with a stranger, but remember: No matter how awkward it is, this is Carnegie Mellon, and there are always 10 people more awkward than you. And they’re usually pretty nice.

If all else fails, just take up WoW and join a guild. Virtual friends are real friends too!

Don’t be afraid,

—Brian Hoskins

Need advice? Send queries to advice@thetartan.org.