Monday, October 17, 2011

Social Interaction - Going Unnoticed.

I’ll admit that I’m not a social person. I know that and I don’t have a problem with it. I’ve never liked one-on-one conversations except with people I am very close to. I always feel awkward and tend to feel responsible for keeping the conversation going. At which point I end up fumbling for things to say. The end result is an awkward train wreck of a dialogue that onlookers want to shield their eyes and ears from but feel compelled to witness the horror as it unfolds.

Me: So… how ya been?
Innocent victim of conversation with me: Great. My wife and I are expecting. You?

(Note the clearly and conveniently provided segue. Taking this avenue would often lead to a stimulating and healthy conversation. However, I often will miss turn-offs such as these and continue careening wildly into conversational oblivion.)

Me: Good… I’m good… Crazy heat we’ve been having these days, huh?
Victim: Yeah, crazy.
Me: Yeah… So… How’s work going?

Believe me, it’s that painful. Situations like these are probably the only reason why I, as much as I dislike them, find crowds useful. It’s very easy to get lost in one. While in a one-on-one conversation you have no choice but to participate, when you’re in a group you can easily step back and let the ones who like the sound of their own voices do their thing while you just nod or grunt in affirmation at the appropriate juncture. In most cases I prefer to just blend in to the background.

Don’t mind me. I’m just sitting here being part of the scenery. Just another innocuous prop here to make the scene more lifelike. Please carry on.

This is something I’ll have to work on when I become a journalist. As a reporter, you’re supposed to be a talker and, especially, a listener. You’re supposed to ask questions and dig deeper and often be the one to initiate a conversation with complete strangers. I guess it’s about time I learned to be something other than scenery.

This is something I have to change, but it won’t be easy. Over the years I’ve developed a very effective chameleon-like ability that allows me to do just that. If I did it just right, the most people would say about me is, “Vinny? He’s quiet and keeps to himself most of the time, but he seems like a nice guy.”

(Interesting side note: if you say that in the past tense, it would basically be the same thing people would say about someone they just found out was a serial killer or who went postal and gunned down his coworkers. I, however, don’t plan on going postal… I think.)

Recently, though, I’ve been beginning to get the impression that people have been misinterpreting my standoffish demeanor. Instead of seeing me as just quiet, they think I’m actually being unfriendly.

Can you believe that? Me! Unfriendly?! Of all the..! This is exactly why I don’t like most of those sons of bitches and when I do if I were to finally snap they’d be the first ones I’d…

Ahem! Sorry.

Anyway, as I was saying, I’ve been noticing people’s behavior towards me seem to suggest that they think I’m not a friendly person. When did I start giving off this “unfriendly” vibe? Oh sure, I can be *cough* a teeny bit *cough* passive aggressive when I’m ready, but I wouldn’t go so far as to say I’m unfriendly.

Those assholes!


  1. I'm one of those kind of people who would meet you then run home and wonder why you hated me. I'm very social, but often it's to overcompensate for the anxiety disorder. Conversation is something I crave. It's interesting to read the other side.

  2. Oh Vinny. You and I, we're basically brothers.

  3. I'm like you...without the potential serial killer leanings. Small talk is just brutal. If someone opened a conversation with "want to know how I lost my hand" or "I got the nickname Jingle Balls..." rather than something about the weather, I might be friendlier.

  4. "if you say that in the past tense, it would basically be the same thing people would say about someone they just found out was a serial killer or who went postal and gunned down his coworkers"

    Haha! That's exactly what I was thinking!

  5. So, It's serial killer than? You mentioned not going postal but left the Serial Killer thing all up in the air. See how you left that open for me to jump in and put my measely 2 cents in. That's a great conversation to be had.
    psst.. I would probably walk away and tell my hubby that your kinda an asshole or just weird. I'd have to come back for one more go before I made my final decision.

  6. I agree with the antler'd pickle here. Small talk is an art, and most people do it wrong. It's painful to watch some try.

    Let's have some fun with it, shall we? Pick a taboo topic and just start railing someone on it?

    "Excuse me, sir... are you for or against anal sex on the first date? I'm for it, as long as I'm the pitcher and not the catcher... HAHA, KNOW WHAT I'M SAYING!?!? HAHA!!"

  7. It takes soooo much effort to converse and I was much better at it when I was younger and my conversations didn't consist of saying things like "How about we go poop in the potty today?"

    Funny post.

    Thanks for stopping by my neck of the woods!

  8. Or try.....
    "Can I talk to you about Jesus?"
    Unless they think you're talking about someone on the Yankees, they'll leave you alone.

    Or end any conversation with "But, life's been much better since I've gotten a handle on my rectal ooze."
    Come to think of it, that'd probably work a whole lot better than a Jesus thing.

  9. I am very non-confrontational.. and I'm not really into crowds either, but that's due to my bad

  10. Nice post - Totally feel your pain. I've had not one, but TWO friends in my life tell me that when they first met me, they thought I was a bitch. Not because I was "bitchy" but because I was aloof, which is really just shyness because I'm physically incapable of satisfying small talk... The "just keep asking them to talk about themselves" trick helps...

  11. Still waters run deep, or something like that;)

  12. You? Unfriendly?

    How dare they think that...Don't you just hate people?

  13. @ ALL: Due to the same lack of internet problem I won't be able to respond to all of your comments individually. It in no way has anything to do with my allegedly not being friendly.


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