A lot of people have been talking about a new trend rampant on the internet, which we all seem to attribute to the use of tumblr. It seems that, in teens and young adults, it has become the new “cool” to be “awkward”. People seem to boast of being socially inept and preferring the company of their computer to the company of their peers. They circulate literally thousands of tumblr text posts, Facebook statuses and tweets commenting on “awkward moments”.
A lot of these same self-proclaimed awkward people are actually really quite socially inclined. They seem to have a solid group of friends, a constant stream of romances, a pretty full agenda. For all their talk of being “awkward”, they don’t seem to fully grasp what it means to be “socially awkward”. To quote a cultural gem “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”
Do you know what it’s really like to be socially awkward? It’s failing to figure out the basic means of making true connections with other individuals. It’s the literal fear of leaving one’s home because one feels unable to function as a normal human being while in public. It is a sickening humiliation due to saying and doing really ridiculous things due to being uncomfortable and unable to adapt well to one’s surroundings. It’s laying in bed at night after a social interaction and feeling crippled with the embarrassment of your own words or actions to the point of considering never leaving the bed again.
Being socially awkward is not glamorous. It’s actually really difficult to go through life without the ability to react normally to basic interactions. It’s loneliness due to feeling that you can’t connect with others on a personal level because you’re so incapable of communicating. The socially awkward do tend to find their solace in books and in online communities, because we are more comfortable with textual communication as it allows us to really think before reacting or responding to others. That doesn’t mean that anyone who enjoys reading or the internet is socially awkward.
Social awkwardness is actually a real mental disorder, which some may know as Social Anxiety Disorder. People who truly suffer from this disorder are crippled by it. It affects their lives, their relationships, their ability to cope in very serious ways. It’s a disease of distorted thinking, which forces the sufferer to muddle through life with a constant sense of trepidation. Individuals living with SAD aren’t likely to have a group of close friends with whom they partake in activities. They can’t easily laugh at their own embarrassments and would probably not post a status which says “I totally just fell on my face. I’m so awkward.” They don’t like to draw attention to themselves, and especially would not want to point out something they did which embarrassed them. They might have one or two people in whom they confide; people they can trust with their day to day humiliations in order to gain a little relief.
You might be wondering why I’ve decided to even write about this. Am I that concerned with a fad among people a decade younger than myself? Not really. But I always think it’s important to spread awareness about mental diseases and disorders. They should never be taken lightly or brushed off as something to which anyone can lay claim. Making it into this trend really belittles those who truly suffer; it takes something that people struggle with in a real way and turns it into a joke. That’s not alright.
Educate yourself. Don’t self-diagnose yourself with mental disorders/diseases. Be aware that mental disorders are not only serious, they are also truly crippling to those who are suffering with them. It’s hard enough being in a constant battle with one’s own mind without outsiders making light of it. Make a decision to be part of the solution, not the problem.