Talking is not my strong point. That is why I write instead. When people meet me for the first time, things will go one of two ways. The first one is what I’m usually shooting for. It’s where you are introduced to me, I force a smile and say hello. I then spend the rest of the conversation forcing eye contact and clenching my teeth. You then walk away thinking “What a snob. She hardly said anything to me and just grimaced the entire time.”
Trust me, this is far better than the second way it can go.
The second way is usually where someone catches me off guard and introduces you to me. Or you start randomly talking to me somewhere. I look like a deer caught in the headlights. I then realize that a look of pure panic makes things awkward, so I start talking to fill any and all silence. This does not go well as I will just ask all the questions that pop into my head. These questions are usually not appropriate and rarely relevant. I will also blurt out random things about myself. Again, usually not appropriate and rarely relevant. This usually ends with you walking away thinking “What a horrible person! Who says those things?”
I do not like being thought of as a snob OR a horrible person, but if I have to pick one, I’ll go with snob.
Writing is a whole lot easier for me because you can go back and proofread. When I proofread I can look at each of my sentences and think about how relevant they are. Then I can delete if necessary. I do a lot of deleting.
I cannot delete the things I say, unfortunately. The Pastor can do this. He says that when in a conversation, sometimes you can have a thought pop into your head and delete it BEFORE it comes out of your mouth. I do not have this super human power. Obviously The Pastor is a social genius.
I am not a social genius.
I’m not even a social media genius.
Part of the problem, if you want to call it a problem, is that I don’t really care too much about being appropriate. What I do care about is being real and honest. This gets me yelled at by strangers. As long as I am being real and honest, I don’t care about being yelled at. Okay, I might have a small anxiety attack after being cyberly yelled at by a stranger over something I posted. I always get over it. What I do not get over easily is the horror of accidentally posting something that is not true or that nobody wants to read. Because of this I made a few rules for myself about posting on the internet. Maybe they will help you too!
Rule number one: Make it at least slightly interesting. Unless it’s a highly unusual experience, nobody cares that you just took a shower or just went to Target. If you shower less than once a month, go ahead and tweet about it so we all know it’s safe to inhale in your presence. If your kid is looking unusually cute in the Target cart, go ahead and Instagram it. Otherwise, nobody really cares.
Rule number two: Learn to write or speak in your own native language. Many people don’t know what the words they use actually mean. For example, if you say that you “literally blew up”, I’m going to assume that your family needs to clean up your guts off the living room walls. The word “literally” means that you actually physically did something. Don’t paint images in my mind that I can’t erase.
Also, learn how to use quotation marks appropriately. Quotation marks are used to actually quote somebody. That is why they are called quotation marks. Sometimes they are also used to show sarcasm. For example, if you say that your daughter said “I hate you!” then I will assume that your daughter actually said that and I will throw you some sympathy. Also a high five for using quotation marks appropriately. If you say that you are going to “the doctor” or “Target” I will assume that you are actually going to see your drug dealer.
Rule number three: Learn the difference between fact and opinion. In elementary school, I spent a lot of time learning the difference between fact and opinion. I assumed everyone else also spent a lot of time learning about this. It turns out I was wrong. It seems a whole lot people think that anything they believe is fact and anything that they don’t believe is opinion. Please do not follow these people on Twitter or Facebook. Also, please do not be these people on Twitter or Facebook. Here is a handy little reference. If you can measure it, it is fact. For example “That woman has five children” is a fact. You can count the children. “That woman is a disgusting breeder” is an opinion. (Yes, to offend fewer people, I am using things that have been said about me) “Your son smiles when he is dancing” is a fact. You could watch my son dance and count how many times he smiles. Nobody can disagree with you because you have your measurements right there. “Dancing is silly” is an opinion. I will listen to you because I am a grown up, but I don’t have to agree because you are a grown up too and you can handle it when we disagree. If you couldn’t handle it, you would have kept your opinion to yourself. “Writing about boys who dance is dangerous and will create a nation of pansy nancy boys” is an opinion stated as fact. That means that you can’t tell the difference between fact and opinion and I don’t have to listen to you anymore.
Rule number four: Anyone can access what you put on the internet. This includes your children. This includes my children. This includes your future boss, your future spouse, your grandma and your pastor. If you would not say or show it to any of these people, then maybe don’t put it online. People will see it. They may not say anything, but it will form their opinion of you and that will last forever. Do you really want everyone thinking of you as just another angry idiot? Do you really want people to never leave their kids with you because they assume you are always getting drunk and having sex with strangers? Do you really want your grandma to be disappointed in you because the only Instagram post she has ever seen in her life was that one? Pause before you click and ask yourself “Am I okay with this being the only thing someone uses to form their opinion of me?” If it is, then go for it. If not, start using the backspace key. Oh, and those privacy settings? Those are mostly there to make you feel a whole lot safer than you actually are.
These four rules have helped me to be slightly less awkward on social media. I hope they possibly help someone else to also be slightly less awkward on social media as well. Also, I am trying to use them to help me to be slightly less awkward in real life, but I have to be honest. I am highly unlikely to ever be a social genius. You can “measure” the awkwardness so it is literally a fact. Shh! Don’t tell my grandma!
Do you know what would be super awkward? Not “liking” this or sharing it with everyone you know!