Famzing is a critical aspect of social interaction in Lagos. But how do you get well acquainted with doing it without feeling super awkward or obnoxious?
I had not seen her in a very long time, so as you would imagine, we had a lot of catching up to do. Amongst many things we spoke about, this subject of famzing came up: she complained bitterly about some ill mannered behaviour she had noticed amongst some of our peers in Lagos.
As she is a very warm and friendly person, it was only natural for her to express genuine joy over seeing people from school she had not encountered since we graduated about 10years ago. Well, one would think so...However, in return for this excited greeting she would receive a much less enthusiastic "Hi...where do I know you from again?" Or simply just a slight wave from a distance.
This part of our conversation reminded me very much of a few of my own experiences when I first moved back and was completely unfamiliar with this very term "famzing". And like my friend, I was always very excited to see people I had not seen in a long time and also eager to make new friends. However, very much to my disappointment, I soon found out that the social environment in Lagos was not very warm; rather, it was much like the current dust infused dry and cold weather this harmattan season.
At first, I felt a little insecure about this particular behaviour where people you know, know exactly who you are (possibly due to Facebook or LinkedIn requests you received from them) but pretend not to when you see them in person at multiple social functions. I therefore fell under the social trap and began to feel paranoid that these people thought I was attempting to "famz" with them.
Famzing can be defined as the desperate attempt to familiarise oneself with those who think of themselves as - for lack of a better word - "cooler" than the person. (Anyone reading this who works for the Oxford English Dictionary, please take note).
I complained to my family and like-minded friends about this appalling behaviour. But I sought comfort when they told me they experienced the same thing, and funny enough, from the same person or group of people I told them about.
I immediately threw my insecurities out the window. So if you are in this state of paranoia about famzing, here are my recommendations to snap out of it:
Exercise some self confidence: According to some of my wise elders, it turns out that these people who you may think are snubbing you are actually insecure themselves.
Look amazing: Yes, feel free to oppress them at these functions with your gorgeous outfit (especially for women...but please don't go overboard to the point of discomfort).
Have a good time: At these functions, if you clearly appear to be having a good time, then you attract other new friends, and so who cares about that one or two people who may have thought you were famzing with them?
Be happy: Please don't get upset if you were not greeted as you expected. There is more joy to life than the reliance of people's acceptance of you.
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If you are really ever in doubt, here are a few tips I call Sam's Four Step process to avoid being perceived as a famzer :
Make eye contact with the person: Be subtle, but if the person is clearly trying to avoid you, then forget it.
Smile: If you receive a smile in return, then you're one step closer.
Watch for body language: If the person displays open body language, then you're almost there.
Approach: If you're a lady and are already seated at a function, sit your ass down (or if you're standing, just stay where you are) and allow the person (if male) make 80% of the approach (that's the way a gentleman should do it). You make the remaining 20%. (If it's a lady, you may go 50:50).
On the other hand...just so you are not perceived as a "famzee" (because really, sometimes you may genuinely not remember a classmate from your nursery school or someone you met during evening out at a poorly lit venue when you were deficient of Vitamin A):
Smile: Don't scowl at strangers, only children below the age of 5 should be given leeway for doing this. Otherwise, it is simply just rude.
Say hi: If you notice someone is staring (not in a creepy way), return with a smile and say hi. Then make the approach as I have described above.
Reciprocate: Please return and equal greeting gesture to what is offered. Don't fold your arms if someone offers a handshake (if the person's palms are at all exceptionally dirty, please procure those pocket size hand sanitizers or look for a lady who has one in her purse. Either way, they are not difficult to find).
So here you have it! There is no need to worry about famzing. Besides, how would we network and build relationships effectively if we are constantly conscious about what other people think about us?
Oyin Egbeyemi is an engineer-turned-consultant-turned-educationist, runner and writer.