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How to Ruin a Date With an Academic in 5 Words

Academic life can be lonely. Professors, postdocs, and doctoral students spend their lives holed up in libraries, labs, and lecture halls, becoming intimate with words and ideas that are liable to alienate them from other people, especially nonacademics.

That can make dating awkward. The latest evidence of this has coalesced around the Twitter hashtag #RuinADateWithAnAcademicInFiveWords. Over the past day or so, people have been contributing phrases they say would raise red flags.

In hundreds of tweets, clear themes have emerged. Apparently, a sure way to kill the mood is to speak admiringly of astrology, Fox News, homeopathic medicine, The History Channel, or Malcolm Gladwell. Disavowals of coffee, evolution, and Oxford commas might not play well, either. And God help you if you suggest that academics get to “take summers off.”

Not surprisingly, ignorance and philistinism aren’t sexy. But some of the most distressing utterances can come from fellow academics.

Since the game went viral, a competing hashtag has also emerged: #AceADateWithAnAcademicInFiveWords. It is much less popular. There is at least one phrase, however, that has been submitted under both hashtags:

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