Despite the portrait I paint of myself here, one of social grace and effervescence, I am actually quite shy and well, awkward, socially. If I know you well, then I am talkative and friendly and outgoing. If I don’t know you then I am, depending on who you ask, solemn/intimidating/arrogant/rude/aloof/weird/quiet/moody/contemplative, or a combination of the above. Basically, if you’ve ever seen the sitcom Scrubs, I am Dr. Cox.
I have all the social grace of brooding wolverine. I’m sure those that live with me consider that a kind description. I don’t intend it to be that way, it’s just the way nature created me. I admire those with social charm and the ability to just jump in anywhere and be a part of the group. I am terribly jealous of your capacity to go from stranger to part of a group in just a few minutes. I’ve tried. And usually it always ends up the same way.
Which brings me to my point. With social media I am a lot better. A lot. Which is to say, only a minor catastrophe. I expected to be a lot better. A lot. I read your posts, and I like them. Then I hit the comment button. Annnnnnnnnnnnd the mind goes blank. I just have no idea what to say. I feel oddly voyeuristic, like I am reading something that I am not supposed to. Peeking through the curtains and eavesdropping on a conversation that really wasn’t meant for me.
I have no idea what to say. And I very rarely have any idea what to say or do when jumping into a conversation. I don’t know how to insert myself into a social situation. Any social situation. Every of a virtual nature. So normally I walk away with a five-minute long writing and rewriting, backspacing, erasing, reconsidering, thoughtful and insightful reply that usually looks something like this:
Great post! Thanks, I enjoyed it!
Wow, Joe. Way to convey your appreciation. But I assure you the product in no way reflects the attention and effort that went into the production of it.
It’s a weird sort of writer’s block, I suppose, since most of the time, as disturbing as it might be, when I write a post, I am talking to myself. I actually don’t even consider the fact that someone might read it until I hit the publish button. And even then I am kind of (pleasantly) surprised when someone hits the ‘like’ button or comments on one of my articles.
So, I guess it’s going to have to be one of those things I force myself to do. Because I fear it. Honestly I do. That anxiety that comes every time I walk up to a person in public I don’t know, flipping through my catalog of possible responses and/or greetings, and selecting one that makes sense. I am tired of being oafish and apprehensive with it. Next time a stranger greets me with a warm and kind “Hello, wonderful day isn’t it”, I am going to try not and reply with something like “Umm, LEGO blocks are cool” or completely lock up like I sometimes do and give my smile, which according to my oldest daughter resembles that of the villain, rubbing his palms together, when he finally figures out how to kill Batman.
I’ll keep trying. I’m sure it doesn’t seem like a big thing to those that are great in social situations. But it’s very uncomfortable to those without that ability. Without that grace and charm and charisma. It’s a terribly awkward and sometimes distressing thing. But, as I said, it is one of those things I really fear. And I am trying to overcome those. So, next time you walk by someone like me, in a store, at a party, at work, or on the street, and they give you that awkward smile or that comment that makes no sense or they don’t even comment at all, give them a break. It’s not that they’re always rude or that they don’t want to talk to you.
Sometimes it is as simple as not knowing what to say.