Socially Awkward at the Speed of Light

We live in a world that is always changing. Sometimes that’s a great thing – I’m a huge advocate of progress. Where my life would be without crucial necessities like indoor plumbing and drive through coffee purveyors, I shudder to think.

On the other hand, many contemporary cultural norms leave something to be desired. Instant communication and social media have significantly altered interpersonal relations. Restaurants are filled with people spending their time staring at phones instead of enjoying the company of a real live human being, face-to-face. There’s a prevailing sense of false intimacy, as people share with increasing familiarity in online venues, but falter and stumble gracelessly when faced with a conversation that requires eye-contact.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying technology is evil and I’ve certainly merrily succumbed to the time suck of social media. Who doesn’t love a good cat meme? I appreciate the fact that the “Interwebs” helps me touch base with friends and family who I don’t get to see regularly. Being able to send a quick text instead of getting mired in a lengthy phone call = super convenient and appeases my predisposition towards introversion. Moreover, of all things, Facebook solidified my conviction that The Douche was having an affair as it gave me concrete examples of the disparity between how he related to me and the attention he lavished on The Strumpet. (Granted, social media mien wasn’t my sole source of suspicion, but it clearly rang the warning bell.)

It concerns me though, when these modern conveniences cause apprehension. It’s bad enough being socially awkward when technology doesn’t facilitate it for you. Now we can be uncomfortable and maladroit 24/7, instantaneously. There’s a great article in the NY Times about anxiety caused by the little “typing awareness indicator” bubble you see when someone on the other end is composing a text response. It’s worth the five minutes spent to read.

I personally found my tender feelings bruised when I discovered someone unfriended me on Facebook shortly after my divorce. Did I offend them with something I posted? Was The Douche spreading untruths about me? Did they “choose” him over me? Maybe they never liked me to begin with and were only being polite because I was married to him? The mental athletics of supposed scenarios was exhausting. I never did have the hutzpah to simply ask the person outright, and now they are someone I just used to know.

I culled my friends list rather fiercely when I got divorced. Navigating shared friends post-break up is pretty vexatious when you aren’t an over thinker with a vivid imagination. I have the dubious pleasure of being the type of character who replays, rehashes, and critically scrutinizes nearly every social interaction. Sometimes I assign far too much significance to trivial things. Despite this tendency (or perhaps because of), I’ve recently come to the disappointing conclusion that someone has been pretty diligent in following my comings and goings, my doings and postings, and reporting them dutifully back to The Douche.

I don’t usually post things on social media that are overly sensitive; I know anything you put on the internet is “out there.” (Ok, occasionally my FB postings might be wine-influenced, but I do keep my drunken texting under tight reign!) Hypothetically, the point of getting divorced was separating our lives. I have absolutely no interest in his undertakings; no one is giving me a running commentary, solicited or otherwise, on his personal life. While I find it marginally creepy and annoying that he cares about mine, I’m far more offended that someone, posing as my friend, feels it’s acceptable to be brokering any kind of information about me to him. Worse, I don’t know who it is or how to find out. My habitual and obsessive inspection of social interactions has given me a few probable suspects, but suspicions are not truths.

Sometimes I well and truly hate people. The whole thing makes me want to give up the internet. But then where would I be without my daily dose of cat memes?


2 thoughts on “Socially Awkward at the Speed of Light

  1. Brilliant bit of writing. Sums up a lot of my feelings, so now I don’t have to :). I hope things settle down so you can focus on the vino and the cat memes.

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