In person interactions sort of feel like a thing of the past these days, don’t they?
We all go out and get our daily errands done. Some of us get these errands done weekly or bi-weekly — monthly, even, but how often do we stop and chat with the person beside us? Pre-covid, Vancouver was often called “the unfriendly city” because people always tended to keep their heads down and go about their days without interacting with strangers. Now, things are heading even more in that direction, don’t you think?
Personally, I’ve never liked interacting with strangers.
I’ve always been that shy girl in class who hid from everybody and kept my mouth shut. If I could do anything to avoid standing out and drawing attention to myself, I would go out of my way to do it. I would lose games or keep my opinions to myself in class, on purpose, to avoid being the center of attention, even for just that brief moment.
I was the wallflower.
These days, with everything being online and having a legitimate excuse to avoid speaking to people face to face, I’ve really become a little bit of a recluse.
But I’ve gotten better at online interactions. As bad as it may sound, I’ve started to live my life on social media. I’ve been talking to people more and I’ve become so much more open with them. It’s easy when you can hide behind a screen and take the time to craft your thoughts and express yourself exactly the way you want. People take the time to respond back as well. You might have longer conversations with them, regardless of how well you actually know them. Even if they don’t reply back immediately, they often get back to you later and continue the conversation. You’re given the time to share who you are and what interests you with these people. I find myself sharing parts of my life, little bits of my day, and all of my favourite things with anybody who wants to listen.
On the downside, however, I’ve forgotten how to interact with people when I see them physically in front of me — as if my social anxiety and social skills weren’t already bad enough!
I happened to come across a girl in a store the other day who decided to make small talk about the products they were selling. I used to work there. I used to have so much to say, but this time, I felt myself clam up a little. Conversation flowed smoothly, but I found that I wanted it to end. We talked for a mere minute or two before she was called away, but I had already had enough and I found myself overthinking the words that had come out of me.
Not that there were many.
It’s not that I didn’t like her. I felt that we could’ve had a good conversation if we had kept talking. Maybe if we had worked together, we could’ve even been friends.
But things are different when you meet somebody for the first time — either online or in person.
The gap between online and offline interactions has widened even further this past year.
It takes me a long time to open up to people when I see them. Sometimes, it takes me months to become comfortable around people. I can be friends with somebody for a long time and still be shy when I see them in person.
But I’ll happily be friends the first time we talk online.
How funny it is to think about the way people communicate.
How do you feel about talking to strangers?