One of my friends at university was the sort of autistic who had total recall. He could tell you what neighborhood you lived in just from the zip code. It was an amazing party trick.
I lived at 80304 for a time. He would say ok well that’s obviously Colorado and this bit indicated Boulder and this bit suggests it’s actually the northern edge of it and I think you are in the neighborhood with the Ideal Market above Kalmia and oh I think it is “Old North Boulder.”
Now while he’s doing this bit with you he would obviously nudge your reactions for details. There are other neighborhoods in the zip code but he knew what to ask to guide you in because he saw the whole map.
You didn’t necessarily notice he was doing it because you couldn’t see it. But he saw the entire geography of it and could rotate it in. He just had that kind of mind.
I think a lot about it now as I start to notice more of how my mind works. I think I do a similar kind of social geography hat trick as my friend did. If you give me a few details about you, your background and your opinions I can telescope in very quickly on very specific social details you may not even clock about your own life unless you are very self aware.
I almost hesitate to discuss it as a super power as it can sound manipulative. The reality is more like a social courtesy to help you see the whole board of what you know about yourself and how you react to me in what you reveal. It’s a beautiful social dance and I enjoy making people feel comfortable expressing a story in a context that makes it easiest for them.
If I’m very good at my job I can then reverse this process. I can learn about who you are and what you really value and I can turn it to another angle so someone else who can’t do the social geography telegraphing in and out can see who you are. You might know the term code switching.
Imagine that but for some of the finer grades of social signaling. It is hard to do so because doing so usually has to do with coming to terms with the many ways in which you “pass” to fit into a life someone else told you to live. It’s rarely reflective of the whole picture. But sometimes because the world imposes systems, like my friends zip codes, which don’t always reflect the full reality. The map is not the terrain. The system is just a map.