Friday, July 18, 2014

Social Media for the Socially Inept

Most of the time, I'm bad at being a people. In person, this is especially true, as when faced with another human I tend to become a giant shitshow.
Stuttering, stammering, sweating profusely, and internally freaking out that my hair/face/clothes/makeup/shoes/teeth/breath/weird hand movements are all working against me to turn me into a freak. You know, because freaking out hasn't already done that. Externally, I know I must look like I have at least some of my shit together, as people trust me with their children and money. If there's one thing I know people don't trust others with easily, it's their money.
Unlike the majority of people, for me small, intimate gatherings are the absolute worst. Because nothing about me can be normal, I handle public speaking remarkably well, and actually prefer it to having a conversation with another person. Of course, what I really prefer is to not have to interact with other people in real time at all.
Enter social media.
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, email, blogging, even texting all allow me to respond to people in my time, after having carefully chosen my tone of voice and the words I'll use. There's no one looking at my facial features or checking my body language for clues. All a person has to go on are my words.
You'd think, giant ball of narcissism that I am, that I'd revel in and enjoy the spotlight. And I do. Only not in person and not with people I can actually see.
Public speaking only works for me because I'm in charge of whether or not my audience reacts. There's this unspoken code of conduct that requires a group of people who are being addressed by one person to hold their counsel unless and until invited to do otherwise. I simply never invite them, and luckily, at least so far, no one really breaks the code because the rest of the world has better manners than I do.
I can't imagine living in any other era. I rely so heavily on my internet-connected devices to communicate with any and everyone that I truly can't imagine having to actually interact with other people face to face. The very thought of having to make individual phone calls if there's a scheduling change makes my palms sweat.
This is why getting a new comment or like or twitter follower- or even better- engaging in a conversation with another person via some type of online media is so thoroughly enjoyable for me. First, there's the human interaction everyone needs- even me, even though I don't want to actually see or hear any humans. Then there's the narcissism that kicks in, telling me I'm obviously beautiful and smart and funny if someone else takes the time to comment or respond. Clearly this makes life worth living.
It's quite the dichotomy: my desire to be left alone mashing up against my desire for outside forces to validate my very existence. I'd say I'm not alone in it, but frankly, I wouldn't know, as I tend not to talk to strangers. Or friends. Or the mailman.