Socially Awkward Social

I recently attended SMCSYD and prior to that I have attended several other “social media” orientated conferences and functions and the one thing I am always blown away by is the amount of people who are heavy social network users that are completely and utterly useless in real life social interactions. At first this always surprises me and I am a little shocked at how it is possible that people who are so good at interacting online can be so bad at interacting in the real world. Then it hits me, the reason these kids are so excellent at interacting online is because that is where they have always spent all their time and while communicating behind a screen they are given a long list of benefits one doesn’t get when in a face to face conversation.

1) Time – When you’re behind a screen you have much more time to think about things to say and if you don’t have anything of value to contribute it is easy to leave.

2) Contact – In the real world physical contact plays a major role in how we communicate, a handshake hello, a gentle brush of the hand when flirting, these are all familiar to people who have always been active in the real world but for people whose primary contact is online these norms may not be so comfortable. Which leads to…

3) Body language – I personally believe this to be the most important of the traits that influences this social awkwardness. Eye contact, facial gestures, the movement and positioning of the arms and torso, these all have a major impact on how we connect with people.

Now I’ll be the first to admit that if I am in a bad mood, or have had a shit day I’m not the most friendly of folk, but I will still make eye contact when talking to a person, shake their hand when I meet them and smile at their jokes (though I am guilty of crossing my arms when annoyed).

With that said its not all bad, I have also met loads friendly and fun people, many of whom I now catch up with regularly for coffee and booze (not at the same time, I’m a drunk but I’m not that bad).

How have your experiences been?

Have you experienced this socially awkward situation?

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8 thoughts on “Socially Awkward Social

  1. I totally agree, i got some subtle glances in my direction with people potentially recognising who i was from my blog picture etc…but no one approached or said ‘hi’.

    I have had the same issue with several other gatherings…my main gripe is lack of eye contact…stop looking at the floor or your phone and look at me!

  2. Welcome to the internet.

    Of course people are going to be generally more attentive, witty, intelligent, attractive & desirable on the internet. You can carefully control the way you appear online & it is difficult to falter without your subconscious being in play. In person-to-person contact, your true nature is going to show as it is much more difficult to carefully select your reaction to social situations. Some people are just naturally awkward, and these people are even more likely to flourish socially online as it gives them an avenue to social acceptance that they otherwise wouldn’t have.

  3. I think this just evens out all those people who are perfectly normal in real life, but have the online personality (and writing skills) of a brick wall.

    Having said that, me and my friend recently wrote a song called “I don’t do well IRL” which is about people who are funny and great online, but then shit in real life. You always feel cheated somehow.

    I do find it interesting to compare people to their profile photo of choice though. Usually there is about 30% resemblance, possibly less.

  4. The biggest problem with real life is that you cannot specify angles from which people are permitted to view you from.

  5. I purposly use photos where I look like shit so that people will recognise me IRL.

    I don’t need to pretend I am more pretty than I actually am, that doesn’t help anybody.

  6. @Jayphen yes but you have a lot more tools at your disposal IRL (facial expressions, body language, tone, accents, funny voices, etc, all the stuff Joel mentioned.) If you know how to use them 😉

    Look at Dave Hughes. He’s a professional comedian, but his Twitter feed is about as interesting as a bucket of dog shit.

  7. I have had similar experiences at SM get togethers however I also try and remember that not everyone is as confident as I am. I do not feel uncomfortable when meeting new people at events like this because I genuinely am not out to impress anyone. I just want to go and meet people and have a chat. If someone doesn’t like me then so be it – different strokes – no big deal. But not everyone is like that.

    However, the one thing that shits me to tears is people who can’t shake hands properly! Firm grip people, quick shake and that’s it. NO GRABBING OF THE ENDS OF PEOPLES HANDS! It is suppose to be palm to palm.

  8. I’m personally a big fan of the palm slap and grab followed by knuckle punch… however it is generally not reciprocated and I just look silly…

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