FRIDAY OPEN THREAD: Let’s Break The Ice!

Hi! I’m Valerie Anne! It’s my first time hosting a Friday Open Thread and I’m nervous but excited. I know some of you from over in my TV corner of this here website but mostly we just talk about whatever show I just recapped (which I love doing and I feel like we ~get~ each other, you know?) but it’s time to learn more about YOU. Because I am enchanted to meet you.

Cosima waves hello

I like your hairs.

I’ll admit, the getting-to-know-you portion of any group activity stresses me out. Someone says the word “icebreaker” and it feels like I am literally on ice that broke and I’m about to fall to my icy doom. Okay that’s a bit dramatic but I DON’T LIKE THEM is what I’m saying. I hate talking about myself in large groups without a VERY SPECIFIC thing to say. Like name and pronouns? Great, done, easy, I know that answer. Hidden talent? I DON’T KNOW?! DO I HAVE ANY TALENTS? DO I HAVE ANY SKILLS? WHO AM I?! It’s a lot.

BUT I have been in ice breaker situations that don’t suck, and it has been the biggest relief. For example, once we were asked to talk to the person next to us and find something we had in common, then eventually we shared those with a group. I’m much better at talking in groups of two or three, and there was a clear mission, but that mission lead us to talk about tons of other things along the way. So even if our share-out ended up being that our moms had the same middle name, we also learned each other’s favorite books, where we were from, sports we played, and other things like that.

Waverly Earp meets Nicole Haught for the first time

Okay technically this is a meet-cute not an icebreaker but WHATEVER

I also enjoy outside-the-box questions like, “What’s the weirdest fanfic pairing/AU/premise you’ve ever read or stumbled upon on the internet?”

So today my icebreaker is about icebreakers: Do you love ’em? Hate ’em? Have any examples of the best/worst icebreaker questions or “games”? (I put “games” in scare quotes because THEY’RE RARELY FUN.) Want to answer that question about fanfic? Also if you all wanted to find weird/odd/random things you have in common with each other right here in these very comments I wouldn’t be mad about it.

BONUS: If you have any pictures of you and yours doing some of those TRULY WILD icebreakers that involves physical activity (I still have nightmares about human knots from gym classes past) please, please, please share them.

a bunch of beautiful queer faces from camp

Here are some people I forced to do icebreakers with me just a few weeks ago at camp! It’s my cabin, Atlantis!

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Valerie Anne

Just a TV-loving, Twitter-addicted nerd who loves reading, watching, and writing about stories. One part Kara Danvers, two parts Waverly Earp, a dash of Cosima and an extra helping of my own brand of weirdo.

Valerie has written 400 articles for us.


  1. Ice breakers are the worst.
    I’m about to finish a class that was ruined for me on the first damn day because the instructor made us go around the room and say our names out loud and one interesting thing about ourselves in alphabetical order.
    I had to sit there and wait for like 700 minutes which was so stressful that during my turn I could barely talk anymore and all I could get out was something about how I have a severe anxiety disorder and I wish I could’ve been at the beginning of the alphabet because this was too fucking much for me and I would’ve taken an Ativan if I knew I was going to have to talk in a room of 50 people.
    Nobody talked to me after that, which is 100% the ideal outcome.

    But! TODAY is a good day because in less than 3 hours I will be participating in the second round of selection for my first choice dental hygiene program, the anticipation of which has been giving me anxiety for a month.
    And whether or not I get in I will just be happy the months-long process is finally over so I can go back to living at my regular anxiety level for a while.
    Happy Friday!

  2. I’m literally on my way to deliver a workshop right now and have to do an icebreaker at the start. I always feel super cringe doing them so PLEASE tell me about good ones you have done so I can steal them for use with groups of young people.

  3. I hate ice breaker games so much! I dread “all staff days” because they usually involve an ice breaker, which I think is silly because we should all know each other by now. My least favorite is one in which you give a surprising fact about yourself (i.e. something no one would know/guess). Those make me super uncomfortable and my mind always goes blank. I’m an introvert, damn it! Don’t make me talk to people/groups!

  4. Icebreakers are one of my least favorite things on this whole entire planet (right up there with people who play games on the subway with the sound on). My least favorite of this least favorite thing is when they ask for a “fun fact.” Who gets to decide they’re fun?? Is my definition of fun the same as everyone else’s? TEW MUCH STRESS!

    I will say, not every icebreaker experience I’ve had has been negative. This might not technically count as an icebreaker, but I’ll share it anyway. At A-Camp X, “cabin initiation” was listed on the program, just taunting me. What did that mean? A masked candle ceremony? Sacrificing one of our own?! (okay probably not that one, but you get it.) To my complete surprise, my cabin sat around in a circle, and (after prompting from Heather) shared what we most hoped to get out of camp. It was so great to hear from everyone and even find out that other people shared your goals.

    That might have been cheating a bit, but I think it falls into the category of “GIVE ME A SPECIFIC QUESTION AND I’LL ANSWER IT.”

    • During a “one surprising fact about yourself” icebreaker we were specifically told that we could not use our “fun fact” from a previous icebreaker. I have one go-to fact and was devastated that I couldn’t re-use it.

    • Yes I agree so hard with all of this! What if people think your definition of fun is weird? Also our initiation bracelets were an awesome icebreaker! Especially because participation was voluntary instead of just everyone in the circle being forced to say something even if they didn’t want to/couldn’t think of anything. And also because it was an actually kinda personal thing that you might remember about someone/relate to them with, instead of a random fact that you’d forget immediately.

  5. I’m severely allergic to all ice breaker activities.

    One of the less infuriating ones I’ve encountered was at a friend’s wedding – the bride and groom had put the entire seating arrangement into the programme and added one sentence about each person under their name. It was a neat idea, but it also meant that no one spoke to me about anything other than that one thing the bride and groom found cool about me… which was a little annoying, but probably also safer given that I was a pagan at a really religious Christian function.

  6. It could depend on the situation too, right? If I’m in a work setting and someone asks for a fun fact I’m probably going to give a different one than if I’m in a new group of queer folks.

  7. I too detest icebreakers! The worst I’ve had to do was “tell us about the one moment/event in your life that has defined who you are as a person”. How am I supposed to think of something like that off the top of my head in a high pressure situation?? Also I feel like it’s really weird to assume that all college-age people would have had a single defining moment already (or at all)?

    I also think icebreakers where you say something about yourself in a large group are kinda pointless in general because who actually can pay attention to what everyone else is saying? And at least for me it doesn’t make me feel more comfortable. I think that the silly activity ones can be good for that sometimes. Talking to one other person to find something you have in common also sounds like a good one.

  8. Urgh. I am not a fan of icebreakers in general. If a group is doing “Two truths and a lie,” I can handle it as I know each item I’ll use (I’ve been using the same ones for years as they’re effective). Anything else, especially ones that require actual activity out of me, and I just have to hope the organizers won’t be offended if I just walk away.

    This is one of the things I love about being an astrophysics major: none of my classes spend a day with icebreakers. On the first day, we go over the syllabus and get started on the first lessons (sometimes we are also handed our first homework of the semester, usually due later that week).

      • That’s why I’ve been using the same ones for so long. People can’t tell which is the lie because I don’t stumble coming up with it. The first time, however, was just as stressful as you describe.

      • The trick to 2 truths and a lie is to use three things on the same subject that are equally detailed. The lie doesn’t even have to be good, then, because it’s easily camouflaged by the length and similarity of subject.

        For example,

        1. I call square-dances for the “Active for Jesus” senior citizen club at the local Methodist Church.

        2. I waltzed with the bride at a wedding while her mom seranaded us with “Sunrise, Sunset.”

        3. My mom made my sister and I choreograph and perform a ribbon dance before she let us have our cars.

        This formula has never failed me.

    • I also have my 2 truths and one lie that I have been using for years. Although one of them is not nearly as effective now that I am 8+ years removed from high school. (And I just realized hat I have to come up with another truth.)

  9. I was just talking about this with a friend last night! We both agreed that icebreakers are the WORST.

    A common icebreaker that I was forced to participate in was “Two Truths and a Lie” – in which you tell three things about yourself, two of which are true and one of which is false. People then guess which of the three things is false.

    Because I did this so many times, I eventually developed stock answers for two truths and a lie, but it is super stressful to try to come up with two things about yourself that people wouldn’t know, as well as a third thing that isn’t true but is believable enough that it might be true. Why do people do these things?!?

      • One of the true things I always used to say was that I had once shaved my head. This is much more believable now that I have short hair but was less so for the many years when I had hair past my shoulders!

        I think I would have to completely revamp my stock answers now. Thankfully, I have not been subjected to an icebreaker in a LONG time.

  10. I am not really a fan of icebreakers as I’m never sure what to say, plus I’m shy and awkward at first. I’m even less of a fan when it’s in super big groups(say 100+ people). Now if there was a ice breaking game, that might work. I’ve even heard people using icebreakers on dates, which I guess might work for some?

    How is everyone’s week? Mines has been okay. I feeling better than last week, as in I am more & more getting over her. I’d still would like to be good friends with her as was implied a while back, but I am not sure where I stand. Time will usually tell. On the plus this qtwoc I’ve been speaking to has been really helpful friend to me, and really appreciate her listening and talking to me. I started speaking to her through the app Hey Vina, which is a friends making app for women(it has an lgbtqi section). Mary Jane and Autostraddle have also been helpful year with AS years of wisdom and articles.

    On the more positive side, this weekend is Venice Beach pride, and thinking about going to an event(there is a lighting ceremony instead of a parade and a ladies dance party) as it smaller and hopefully less corporate than LBC pride. I am also going to Cuties this Sunday for their month queers, coffee, and donut, and hopefully make new friends there. Speaking of icebreakers, their Sunday event, at least for me, are like the icebreaker if that makes sense. Like introducing oneself, and talking to people is way easier and friendlier there, and I always have a positive time there.

    I was under the weather Sunday so I wasn’t able to go hiking, but did go to the beach monday with my mother to get sun and relax. It really upped my mood, that a driving on PCH is always beautiful, though at times frustrating(because of traffic).

    Thank you for viewing and reading my thread. Have a positive weekend!

    • Wish there’d be something like Cuties where I live, anyplace that serves alcohol and has cis-women in it straight men invade and make unsafe because where’s the alcohol there’s predatory opportunities that just can’t be missed out on.

      Also we respect quality coffee down here and love sweets.

      • I haven’t notice many if any cis-het men at Cuties so that’s positive there. However, I have seen men who aren’t cis-het make women and trans people(me included) feel unsafe at a gay club. I think men who like women and alcohol aren’t always the best combo.

  11. I’m more neutral on icebreakers. I know some people with social anxiety hate forced social activities but I don’t really… I get that they’re awkward but it helps me to have a script to go by.

    Although if someone asked about a “defining moment” as an icebreaker I would die!


      This is the opposite of an ice breaker but once at work we did this “culture training” and it was all very chill and great and had some fun activities but then for the very last activity every single person had to, one at a time, stand in the middle of a circle and choose two people to give you a compliment. So you are not only a) standing alone in the middle of a circle trying to pick someone you HOPE WILL HAVE SOMETHING NICE TO SAY ABOUT YOU but you also b) have to try to avoid contact with other people so they don’t pick you so you don’t have to give them an awkward compliment in front of everyone. It was a nightmare.

      • Oh no no no no no. That would be so stressful!

        Freshman year of college, the first ice breaker we played on my dorm floor was a “stand up if these things apply to you,” and that made for some awkward moments.

          • It was horrible! The RA would say “I am [insert something here]” and you would stand up and she would tell everyone to observe who was standing. Then you would sit back down and wait for the next “I am.” I think the point was to not make presumptions about people because of their looks? I don’t even know…

          • I could definitely be remembering it wrong (18 year old Caitlin was so long ago!), but I do feel like we had to actually stand up. Incidentally, it was during this “game” that I was told I couldn’t be gay because I didn’t look gay.

    • When I was 11-ish I went to a Children’s International Summer Villages selection camp, because I was majorly into languages, foreign cultures, UN, EU and stuff… and that’s the part that almost gave me a nervous breakdown. Imagine 100 preteens you don’t know, and now you have to prove that you remember all their names or you LOSE, both face and the game, and you not only suck at names, but you haven’t spoken to anyone you’re not sharing a room with yet. I still kind of want to cry, just thinking about it.

  12. Okay let’s try this on for size. Tell me ANY (or all if you’re feeling feisty) of these things:

    Hogwarts House (what you’d choose, not what Pottermore said)
    Astrological Sign (star, moon, rising, whatever you feel most connected to)
    Meyers-Briggs Personality
    Enneagram Number
    Where you were living (like what city/state/country/general geographical location) in your thirteenth year of life.

    I’ll go first. And do all because, well, Head Girl.

    Hufflepuff Head Girl
    Capricorn with a Taurus moon and we have officially reached the end of my knowledge on the subject
    I was living in Everett, MA (USA) when I was 13

  13. I am one of those terrible people who ask difficult icebreakers, and because they get turned back on me I have a few stock answers to them…

    “What sorts of mischief do you usually get into?”

    “What are the things you most want other people (or me) to know about you?”

    For what it is worth, I do at least sometimes feel guilty, if that helps?

  14. I’m sorry all my pictures are different sizes in this post. It’s bugging me every time I re-load. I promise I’ll be better next time. (WHAT SHOULD MY TOPIC BE NEXT TIME?? We have a few weeks to plan it don’t worry.)

  15. Heyyy,

    I’m not sure but maybe Ravenclaw?

    We have the same first and middle name (other than the “e”) and whenever I see someone saying your name on twitter I get confused for half a second and think they are talking to me. I was also hoping one of us would win the GLAAD donation contest where they name a character after you on Wynonna Earp, because then we would both win. Thanks for inviting us to comment! <3

  16. My icebreaker:when you spot someone you admire and follow on Twitter(because you love her writing and the fact that she is an amazing human being) ,in the ClexaCon crowd and you find some strength to introduce yourself and you Just stutter the little english you know cause you’re French and you make a fool of yourself. Thank you Valerie for being the kindest. I’m Just so shy and was super impressed by you. Does it count as an icebreaker ?

  17. Valerie Anne!!! This is such a sweet Open Thread! I love it (and you!)

    Hufflepuff (technically, HuffleClaw, but it’s fine because the Sorting Hat let’s me decide!)
    Cancer who doesn’t anything about suns, moons, or rising whatever
    Living in Detroit, MI on my 13th birthday
    ME!!! <3

  18. I realize this is an unpopular opinion, but sometimes I like icebreakers(!?). Or at least, I like to facilitate them as a TA. I get to ask my students something semi-related to the class (what topic do you most enjoy debating about? What do you over-analyze?) and then get to go through and have a mini conversation with each person. I get to know who has a Bowie tattoo, or loves Buffy, or who would not like to be put on the spot again.
    But the “one fun fact about you that not many people know” thing is still evil. MY LIFE IS AN OPEN BOOK THERE ARE NO SURPRISES. Also please don’t make me play “never have I ever”. Ever.


    i lowkey love icebreakers as long as i care about one of the people in the group

    like high school, there was this thing where you volunteered (for what? we’ll soon find out!) and the teacher would ask you like twenty questions in the front of the room and like its weird but im also self-absorbed without getting the chance to always talk about myself and also my crush was in this class and i was like if she knows this sHE’LL HAVE TO FALL IN LOVE WITH ME

    actually i take it back icebreakers are fun for me as long as they arent about me, so like learning about other people is cool and i dont have to think of the questions??? bless i like having a script cause autism but i couldnt do it and be excited and also be truthful for like…………………………………………………………………………………………………..a group of straight white men everyone else though im game

    • Yeah I like learning about other people. At camp I played two truths and a lie but didn’t actually have to play and just got to hear people tell stories and I LOVED IT. I like answering questions about myself in small groups but too many and I P A N I C.

      I love “she’ll have to fall in love with me” haha so relatable

  20. I have a love/hate relationship with icebreakers, as I have terrible social anxiety but also have to plan lots of icebreaker activities for the kids I work with (which I actually really enjoy!).

    #1 worst icebreaker experience would have to be in 9th grade science. I was brand-new to a school where everyone had grown up with each other since kindergarten, and part-way through the year we had a long-term substitute who made us introduce each other as a weird sort of icebreaker so the substitute could get to know us. Well, being shy, no one knew much about me to introduce me, so I was the second-to-last person chosen and the girl said something like “this is Stephanie and she’s really nice.” I then had to introduce the last person, the kid with a disability who was honestly not very nice. Awkward, to say the least.

    Favorite icebreaker was in a psych class in college–we had to “prove” the person sitting next to us was our long-lost twin by coming up with as many commonalities as we could.

    Least favorite icebreaker is always “if you were a (random category), what (random thing) would you be?” They make no sense to my logical brain. Once I said “if I were a kitchen appliance, I would be an oven, because I like having cookies inside of me.” People gave me weird looks, I don’t know why.

    As for the other questions…
    Leo (supposedly)
    INFJ 4 lyfe
    No clue about Enneagram stuff
    Small town in Northeast Michigan

    …and I may be slightly obsessed with drapple fanfic right now…

  21. I don’t want to be controversial… but icebreakers are great!

    No one is left out. Everyone is included. Everyone sits in a circle like equals. Everyone talks for an approximately equal amount of time. It’s the office activity of my socialist dreams!

    It’s also just the most efficient way to get to know multiple individuals within a large group of people. There are guidelines, rules, suggested topics of conversation, structure! So equal, so efficient, so excellent.

  22. I don’t know what’s weirdest fanfic pairing/AU/premise I’ve ever read or stumbled upon on the internet because weird means thing for different people and my standards are hanging with Pluto.
    Sea-monster AU doesn’t seem that weird nor does a Bucky/Toni Stark Mulan inspired high fantasy AU to me.

    The word icebreaker makes me think of an ice pick that’s just how my brain works and is not an actual attempt to creep someone out.

    I hate talking about myself because I know I’m going to mess up and say something that’s going cause a problem in some way even things that SHOULD be innocuous. Talk about talents and then I’ve got the “dance monkey dance” situation and peer pressure makes me ornery or on a bad dad makes me lash out. (Also secondly there’s this old distrust of social interactions as a way of gaining information to use against me in some future context)

    It gets worse with one on one human interactions.

    I can’t do friendly and open when I could encounter a person again except like at a party or something very informal where people have looser inhibitions and it’s fun when I say something strange.

    The only reason I’ve any gotten better is because I cook and that’s a very normal thing people like to exchange anecdotes and information about.

    My normal is not everyone else’s normal and I have to be on guard for that and I HATE it.

    I will never forget the in highschool where in class someone was going to tease the quiet kid(me) for having a hickey and finding hickies to be beneath me and childish I snorted, “No, that’s a bitemark.” complete with an eyeroll like I was Cordelia Chase and someone just mistook couture for off the rack from Sears.
    The only way I lived that down was when my whole grade and some underclassmen mistook myself and a friend as being part of a triad relationship after senior prom.
    That was real awkward given the Catholic nature of my school and if it had happened in junior year there would have been quite a conference with my parents, her dad, administration, the chaplain and maybe even the deacon.

  23. One on one I can talk to you for hours from topic to topic, I’ve used anything and everything to break the ice. And then when we’ve been talking for hours I realize I never got your name and has too much time gone by for me to formally introduce myself. I am super awkward that way.

    In a group setting, I strut in like I own the joint but then really hang out off to the side icebreaker person. And then I’m the invade others conversation icebreaker and chime in and when they asked if I said something I say no but then I do say something because now they’ve included me in the conversation. I am the Shy Ronnie in any group setting at least to begin with.

  24. Okay so I have thoughts on this –

    I go to cuddle parties for queer women and they are SO fun and amazing and empowering. We do icebreakers by answering one silly question, although it’s not the first thing we do, and since it’s a silly question and not personal information it’s fun! Some of my favorites are “if you were a dog what breed would you be and why?”; “which cartoon character would you want to cuddle with and why?”; “if you had to jump into a swimming pool filled with food what would you fill it with.”; “if you were footwear what would you be?”, etc.

    My answers are Cavalier King Charles Spaniel because they’re small, cute, sweet, and have a ton of health problems; Rainbow Brite because I had a RB hoodie in college that I wore pretty much 24/7 and she has cloud friends; Chocolate pudding because I could eat my way out; Bare Feet because with me what you see is what you get and I also hate socks.

  25. I’m an orientation leader at my college, so I spend a lot of time trying to convince shy freshman about how fun ice breakers are!! Participating in them is a blast and a half, but leading them is the worst and not fun at all 100% would not recommend

  26. Oh! Also! Instead of messaging hi or hey or what’s up on dating apps I ask a random question (thanks to that Autostraddle article from last year about winning at Tinder). Today’s random Tinder icebreaker: which Disney movie is your LEAST favorite and why?

    My answer: Sleeping Beauty, because the notion that Aurora’s life LITERALLY DEPENDS on a man choosing to kiss her is fucked up. And it’s so passive! What if I want to do the finding? Ugh.

    So far today’s responses are Pinocchio and Mary Poppins.

    • I do the same on tinder and OKC. The one I have been recently using that I saw on Autostraddle(I think?) is what is the worst gift you have ever received. So, far it hasn’t brought in to many replies. I may have to try that Disney question though.

  27. The only downside to ice breakers is ususlly you say someting to the room then it moves on.

    I am a huge extrovert and would rather get to talk *with* people!

    I was totally that girl who in college when you’re supposed to just say your name, major, and hometown on the first day would ramble for an awkward amount of time about extra stuff. If I can’t have a coversation I’ll with someone I go off the rails and monologue to the room.

    Sorry, introverts :)

  28. I’m having a sudden mild attack of the feelings about how if I did change my mind on marriage and decide to marry someone it would break my mother’s heart even if it was a man because I could never consign myself to wear a white wedding dress or even white lady’s pantsuit.

    I could be convinced to have big family wedding with cake, but a wedding dress or church wedding never and that wouldn’t be enough for her.

    Being queer means killing your parents dreams and hopes they formed for you in their heteronormative bubble. I’ve known that for years but being an adult now who has gone to weddings as an adult it’s more tangible. It’s not just an abstract fact anymore.

    If I rewatch the Calzona wedding episode now I think I’d actually cry.

    • Tbh this sounds less like heteronormative bubble and more like the insane wedding industry and hopes and dreams formed by the capitalist machine. Like, if pissing enough money for a down payment in the space of one day represents anybody’s major wish for their kid, that’s entirely on them.

      I got married for practical reasons, no dress, mostly no family, they got over it, their place in my life is more than just showing up for one day of it.

      I don’t mean this to sound rude about your family, I just hate weddings.

      • Nah the white wedding dress is more of a cultural thing and expectations of femininity with my mom and her side of the family than wedding industry. She’d be okay if I got married in a public park and had the reception in a rec center or at my aunt’s ugly over sized house as long as the family was there in force and her “beautiful daughter” was in a wedding dress.

        If I eloped and got married in a court house without bio-family or her there it would take years for her to forgive me and even then she’d throw in my face now and again.
        That’s just how she is.

        I’m not offended I rather detest the standard industry weddings as well. Only one I ever really liked 100% was a nerd brunch wedding that had a box of padded weapons, set pieces and a green screen for all the guests to play with and a thing that is cousin to cinnamon rolls for a wedding cake.

  29. a little late but this is how our LGBT group did icebreaking on Saturday (your Friday actually) by hiking in Slovak mountains. It was another great weekend with this awesome people. And mind if I remind you my “Hot Take” t-shirt ;)

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