When it comes right down to it, I'm a pretty antisocial guy. Not so antisocial that I'm squirting the neighbor kids with a hose when they come by the house (although I did have a dream that I lived in Cinderella's Castle at Disney World and was constantly yelling at the tourists to "Get off my lawn!"), but more socially awkward. I cringe when I talk on the phone to people I don't know, I pretend I'm not home when the UPS man comes to the door, and I'm not terribly comfortable with the small talk.
Here I am on this professionally designed chart:
I even just made a Hugh Grant joke. He hasn't made a decent live-action movie since Music and Lyrics in 2007. That's like using an ALF joke ("ALF's back, this time in Pog form"). Now I made an ALF joke. And now I'm talking about ALF jokes. Make it stop!!!
Social media, being the ultimate exercise in small talk, exasperates my awkwardness. What amounts to a collection of my nearest and dearest friends, some which I haven't physically seen or spoken to in over ten years, is pretty much reduced to invites to play Zombie Farmville or pictures of eggplant parmesan. How am I supposed to react to a picture of some kid using the potty for the very first time. "I'm proud of her," just sounds hollow since I haven't seen the family since 1997 and "I'm happy for your family" sounds like something your insurance broker would send you in a pre-signed card. So it's a poop joke, and then move on.
Even worse, how do you respond to bad news. I want to be supportive, but foot-in-mouth disease always leaves me speechless. Seriously, what can you say in a limited amount of space to the post, "RIP Mom, you'll be missed." "That sucks" frowny-face just doesn't seem to cut it.
I used to blame the platforms, but the more I help companies and non-profits establish an authentic dialogue using social media, I'm starting to think that my own insecurities made me shun my accounts. I should at least take my own advice and think of these mediums as a chance for conversation, and not merely a space for proclamations. Or if you allow my to quote Shrek: the Musical for a moment, I need to let my "freak flag fly."
So bring it on Facebook! Let's throw down Twitter! Intimating slang Google+! While you'd still get my witty banter, you'll also get my awkwardness. At least when I comment on your posts, I'll really mean it. And hopefully one day our old relationships can intermingle in the real world.