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What Does It Mean to Be "in the Loop"?

By Cynde Gregory
Updated May 23, 2024
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People who know they are in the loop have every right to be confident. Someone who is this position is an essential part of somebody’s in crowd. Whether the loop those folks are in involves exclusive party invites or hush-hush business meetings, being there means others go out of the way to ensure they are notified about plans, changes of plans, and anything else that might be important.

Being in such a state isn’t entirely up to the efforts of others, however. While top-dog types, like bank presidents, heads of state, and rock stars are likely to be kept in the loop by a bevy of individuals for whom keeping them there is a full-time operation, most people who are in the loop are fully aware that this isn’t necessarily a lifetime appointment. Should they miss an appointment or fail to understand the subtle nuance of a social predicament or even a glance, being in the loop can quickly become being out of it. This means that those in the loop have to keep a sharp eye out for changes in structure, pecking order, or purpose and adjust their own behaviors and expectations accordingly.

It’s a bad sign, for example, when one business partner "forgets" to let another one know about an important meeting at which major decisions must be made on the spot. There’s a good chance that the partner, who was previously an integral part of the loop, is about to get booted out of it. A once-devoted lover who neglects to let the beloved know what’s going on this evening might be edging that person toward the door.

Being in the loop not only means watching out for bits of information that might change one’s own position, but it also carries a certain amount of responsibility. Someone who is part of the in crowd has the responsibility of passing along information that isn’t for public consumption to other members of the group. Information circulates from one person to the next, all the way around until the loop, or circle, has been closed.

Someone who isn’t invited in is, of course, out of the loop. Things go on that such an individual isn’t privy to and may, in fact, have no inkling about at all. As most people remember from high school, being on the outside doesn’t always feel so good and can bring with it a sense of shame or a plunge in self-esteem.

Being out of the loop, though, can also be self-inflicted. Claiming to be out of the loop has been many a person’s excuse for missing a deadline or date, for not knowing about an important moment in a friend’s life, or failing to come through. It’s the modern-day equivalent of "I got off at the wrong bus stop," and while the excuse is generally recognized as such, it’s usually accepted with a graceful smile because being out of the loop is a state most people can identify with.

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