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.
Jack Grubb writes an incredible blog, Losing the Internets, which is read by at least 37 people and over 2,100 Russian SPAM bots. In his spare time he helps small companies find their marketing voice. Jack currently lives deliberately in Appalachia, Kentucky with his wife, two daughters, Jack Russell and a Lego collection beyond compare.