Setting: College cafeteria, lunch hour, daylight pervades the room. Brain dead students scattered around tables.
Players: Two college students, not previously acquainted with each other.
Ready… and… ACTION!
Socially Adjusted Person #1: [Takes the open seat opposite stranger] Hi, I’m Socially Adjust Person #1.
Socially Adjusted Person #2: Hey, I’m Socially Adjusted Person #2. Nice to meet you. [Extends warm, friendly hand]
SAP #1: [Takes hand] Nice to meet you, too. So, what are you majoring in?
SAP #2: Political science. You?
SAP #1: Awesome. I’m majoring in underwater basket weaving.
SAP #2: [OMG face] Whoa, there’s a major for that?
SAP #1: Yep. And it’s totes amazing.
SAP #2: It sounds like something a writer would make up in an effort to be funny.
[We’re straying from the point]
SAP #1: Hey, let’s hang out sometime. I know this really cool italian restaurant served by dangerous convicts.
SAP #2: Sure! That sounds great! See you later, new friend!
What just took place? Based on extensive research conducted with large social samples compiled over the course of 18 years, my sources inform me that this is what is called “Casual Small Talk” or CST, as I like to call it. [No, English Prof, this is not a run-on sentence.]
Although I have observed CST for a considerable time, studied its nuances, and recorded its rhythms and patterns, the phenomenon still baffles me. What allows a human being to possess the incredible ability of CST? Is it genetic? Is it random? Is it caused by bites from mutated spiders? The research is ongoing.
As a member of Homo Sapiens Awkardiensis (HSA), I seem to lack the social component that allows me to interact like CST-carriers. The ease in which they engage in conversation with complete strangers is quite extraordinary. How do random topics come to them? How are they capable of voicing these random topics without difficulty? Have they no fear of rejection? Have they no fear of the “awkward pause” phenomenon?
Homo Sapiens Awkardiensis is void of the CST gene or whatever causes the development of CST. When faced with social interaction, particularly with strangers, HSA tend to exhibit one or a combination of these traits:
- Involuntary freezing
- Speech impedments (stuttering, sober slurring)
- Extreme volume levels (mousiness VS obnoxiousness)
- Blank mind (can’t think of anything to say)
- Lack of excitement/general reaction (mistaken for disinterest, actually signifies timidity)
And these are only a handful of attributes of the HSA in action (or inaction).
Even penguins are socially awkward
In college, the HSA is at its weakest. We are forced into entirely new environments in which we know absolutely no one. With minimal knowledge of our surroundings and of what to expect, we are Doomed. You see? I just capitalized “doom.” You know shiz is serious when it’s unnecessarily capitalized.
However, no guts, no glory.
Immanuel Kant wrote “Enlightenment is man’s leaving his self-caused immaturity.” Similarly, socializing is man’s leaving his self-caused seclusion. To survive, to thrive, humans must adapt. We must be able to at least pretend to be capable of keeping up with the daunting evolution of social interaction. Introduce yourself. Smile. Read HowStuffWorks and Cracked for interesting topics to randomly talk about.
The previous paragraph is an example of hypocrisy at its finest.
What do you think of small talk? Love it? Hate it? Share your socially awkward moments (college or otherwise) in the comments.
Read some more about social awkwardness:
How to NOT be socially awkward
Embrace Your Awkardness