This is about how I wonder why I still live here at times. This is about how I lack social skills. This is about me ranting about my generation, again.
In first grade I was given the insulting name “Barbie girl”, this stemmed from my apparently age inappropriate fondness for Barbies and Barbie merchandise (yeah, in first grade). To this day I cringe whenever I hear that Aqua song. This morphed into a plethora of other nicknames throughout the years until I stopped caring and started dyeing my hair odd colors. I was a very sensitive individual and an easy target. Making me burst into tears wasn’t a very hard thing to do. I kind of wonder how much I have changed over the years in retrospect, but more on that later. [see also: thicker skin]
I don’t find myself comfortable in crowded places. Things like New Year’s Eve in Times Square honestly give me nightmares. The normal day to day crowded spaces I encounter don’t bother me. I either keep myself glued to a book in the subway or on my phone scrolling through one of many unnecessary playlists I’ve created in the past year. It’s incredibly dangerous and anti-social but I feel I keep my ear buds in so much as some weird defense mechanism.
I get scared and ask myself things like:
“What if I run into someone I know”,
“What if I have to deal with the actual world and hear the beggars on the street as I stride down the sidewalk towards my workplace knowing very well I’m nowhere near mentally equipped enough to deal with human beings yet today”
“What if my earbuds become unplugged and I don’t realize it and it’s like that day the people on the subway car heard me listening to Jawbreaker at an uncomfortable volume?” (Since then I of course double check my connections before I leave)
When I should be asking myself things like:
“What IF I run into someone I know”
“What if strangers actually feel like interacting with me like other normal human beings sometimes do when they’re not constantly sleep deprived creatures like myself”
“What if I get mugged?”
I moved to Philadelphia in late 2011. I wanted to escape Berks County and most of my close friends had already completed the migration normal 20-somethings do from a more boring town to the closest metropolitan area. The difference is that now I feel like for the most part I’m not even included here.
I know I’m an interesting person. I know I over utilize puns and think my jokes are about 1000x funnier than they actually are. Lately I’ve started noticing my tendency to talk with my hands. I caught myself giving someone a “thumbs up” sign at work and just stopped. Thumbs up signs are what the cool guy in 90s cartoons are known for, not me. If I act polite like always I “say sorry too much”. I didn’t know there was some book where these social cues were written down, if found please clue me in on its location.
Sites like MeetUp.com exist to help other anxious people like myself in part but even then I’m sure there are cliques. THERE ARE ALWAYS CLIQUES.
Casually saying things like “oh that’s so awkward” and “oh, I’m so awkward” is not cute. Neither is using the word gay in a negative context, so stop doing it.
My social awkwardness isn’t some cliché 20-something problem you see people complain about between tweets about how excited they are for some overpriced makeup line and kale smoothies. I would much rather have a conversation about gentrification and it’s negative effects on Philadelphia over whatever “twerking” is, which I’m still not entirely sure of.
Part of me kind of wonders if our culture of narcissism from things like social media perpetuate this issue. Especially as products of the “Myspace Generation”. There was an even smaller subculture of Myspace kids and we (not legally) trademarked our display names. We took really pretentious portraits with even more terrible captions. Basically the years 2005-2009 were a big mess of eyeliner and angst. The point behind this all is that we amassed these friend lists containing thousands, literally thousands of friends. Despite the 17,000 “friends” you have, you might know less than 50 of them in real life. Myspace kids are still around and are the only reason Hot Topic still continues to stay open at one of many convenient locations for suburbanite children to buy hot pink faux-extensions. The point is we liked the attention. The point is we thought we were cool. We just moved on from these services and evolved.
We are constantly connected to these digital portraits. Much like a painter with a canvas, we craft our personas with pixels and clever phrases. There is no Instagram filter for our scars and no comedy writers for things that spew from our mouths. The main thing missing from our generation is authenticity.
“Oh, it would be great if I could just deal with it”