In Defense of Being Socially Awkward

Some of the friendliest, most sincere people I know have recently catagorized themselves as “socially awkward,” causing me to re-evaulate whether that’s such a negative thing after all. No longer does it simply connotate people who laugh at inappropriate moments (me. guilty), miss someone’s hand while high-fiving (or high-five in public at all for that matter), or shake during public speaking. As far as I’m concerned, we can all now blame that last one on caffiene, a favorite scapegoat for my antics. Chances are, unless you’re one of the chosen few blessed with the magical ability to summon unadulterated confidence at any moment, you’ve joined our ranks. Loving the evolution of colloquial language right now!

So, what exactly does it mean to be socially awkward in the modern world? Basically to be human, but that’s a cop-out, so let’s continue.

Awkward often implies embarassment pertaining to some percieved social gaff, so perhaps the phrase is redundant anyways. But this hyper-awareness that society’s unspoken codes have been breached is an essential point here. I find this utterly astounding, especially when paired with fun hypothetical scenarios about what is and isn’t considered “acceptable.” For example, in this fantastical undergraduate world, it is perfectly normal to get completely wasted and throw up on strangers or begin hugging everyone in sight (so guilty of this last one. I am infinitely grateful that I am a happy drunk). However, we would blush at the thought of openly, soberly acknowledging the presence of someone we’ve never met before. Maybe the innate tendency of alcohol to remove shame (at least temporarily) from the equation is at work in this particular example.  Or, radical notion, society has been and is and will continue to be molded by people- and we, as a human race are often hilariously incomprehensible!

This term has come to encompass so many of my self-admittedly socially awkward friends, that I feel obligated to take this train of thought one step forward. For those of you who answer my inquiry about how your day’s going with more than one syllable (hint: one of these is not “fine”), yes please! I absolutely want to hear, that is why I asked! Those of you whom I don’t know, but who I encounter every day walking to class- when you smile at me or murmur a greeting instead of glancing at the vacant screen of your cell phone in order to avoid eye contact…by Jove, I think you’ve got it! So, next time, dear readers, you catch yourself ruminating on some moment or other and think “Damn, that was on the awkward side of social,” follow up with “Hell yes, it was!” and buy yourself a cup of coffee. Because it is quite possible that you just made someone’s day.

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