“How social are you?”
I know that that seems like an odd question, but really, just take a moment to consider it; not simply as a “do you enjoy the company of others”, but is it something you need? Or do you avoid it with every cell of your being?
Personally, I’m somewhat social. I know that’s a bit of a cop out and generic as a response, but it’s late and I suppose I can’t really be bothered to try think of a better definition, if I’m being honest. I like the company of my friends; creating memories with them, the inside jokes, our thoughts, the works, you know? But that being said, I need at least a bit of alone-time throughout the day as well. I love these people and don’t know what I’d do without them in my life, but I also cannot physically or mentally withstand being around groups of people for too long either. Sometimes I deal with it better than other times, but otherwise, I can be dismissive and quiet. Which, in my opinion, is fine. I’m just “that” sort of person, and I guess I feel like there’s no need to feel guilty over it (so long as I go about it in a socially appropriate manner i.e. I don’t go lashing out). That being said, there have been many a times where I have wished that I was more social.
It’s not that I’m not “sociable”, but that having to maintain a social facade for extended periods of time can exhaust me. In addition to this, I have a slight case of self-diagnosed social anxiety. Again, this doesn’t mean that I’m not amicable or congenial in the social setting; it’s an internal thing. I guess my most applicable example is of when I went on a tour during a recent holiday of mine. This, in summary, involved 40-odd people including myself travelling in a foreign country by bus over 3 weeks. The people were friendly and bubbly, and I’d comfortably say that people either liked me or were indifferent towards me (you can’t win them all). I tried to smile and on the rare occasion chime in a comment here and there to ensure that they knew I existed. But my god, it was tiring. Yet, my friend with whom I travelled with simply thrived in this environment. He loved the interacting and the attention. And naturally, in such a situation, the other loved him back. In retrospect, it was a good trip and experience, but at the time, there were many times where I was crippled by the number of strangers surrounding me; in the simplest and crises way to describe it, my innards felt constantly seized up. My chest a little tighter than usual and that constant niggling of nervousness. But I had spent my entire life putting out to the world the best version of myself (at least to those I am not that close with). And I guess this in itself made matters a little worse, when my friend did not know how to empathise; the uneasy sensation I was living with was unfamiliar to him, and on top of that, he continued to mistake my concerns of the situation to be that of how I was coming across to the others and whether I was liked. I tried to sort things out myself, but then felt lonely. I tried to immerse myself, then felt overwhelmed. It did gradually get better, but I have to admit that I wished that it could have been better than it was.
So, this leads me to wanting to become someone who can be more social, not on an outward level, but an inward level, if that makes sense. What I mean is that, I know I can play the part if need be, but the real problem at hand is how I feel in these situations. I’d like to think of this as a self-improvement project of sorts; I assure you that this is no unhealthy obsession of mine.. Anyhow, this trip, in addition to various other ongoing of my personal life, led me to download several apps; a mix of social and dating apps.
I’m presuming that we are all aware as to how dating apps tend to function, so I won’t elaborate on these. The social apps are more or less the same thing but without the romantic prospects. So, here (unlike, say Tinder or Bumble), people remain to present the best version of themselves admittedly, but provide a much more helpful profile for you to essentially start a conversation if you wish. It’s weird in a sense, because in both realms, everyone is clearly there for distinct motives, but despite this, the way the conversation starts, continues and finishes is completely different. An example: if I was to ask someone how their weekend was going, 95% of the time I can tell you that the dating app responder (despite having mutually matched) will not respond. This sucks for people like me where this is how I’d start a normal conversation. Don’t get me wrong, I get that these people want me to start things off with something a little more interesting, quirky or funny, but the reality is, what difference does it make when I’m just trying to talk with you. Surely given our reciprocated initial reactions, it won’t hurt you to simply respond and take it from there. Why is it that as soon as this courtship moves online, what you’d do in person is just disregard – yes, a joke does well in-person, but if I was to ask how you’ve been in person, you wouldn’t sit there staring at me nonresponsive for the rest of the evening?
Similarly, I’m not talking about everyone that I’ve spoken with, but I’ve come to increasingly notice that these people that I match online are just as bad, if not worse, at carrying out these conversations. I confess that I am a male and there have been plenty of cases where my gender has been disappointingly sleazy or dismissive. But like any case, this isn’t all of us. And I feel that when I start messaging someone, I have put in the effort; I try and find topics to talk about and continue to ask questions as to keep the conversation rolling. But here’s the thing: many of these people I contact simply fail to bother. I don’t know how else to explain it. Here I am, trying to discuss and converse, but many of the respondents answer the questions in the shallowest forms and give nothing back. So, here’s the thing, everyone: it’s fine if you end up not being interested. At least have to courtesy and courage to let the other person know. And in the case that you’re interested, actually give a little something back; otherwise, it makes people like me feel stupid for wanting to try and gets us sick of trying. Not saying you’re not worth putting in effort for, but it’s a two-way street and it’s almost stupid to presume that you are entitled to these strangers to put in their time and effort for someone who will only reveal themselves 2 words per response.
So, I guess I’m just frustrated at people again:
1) dating and even socialising is not all about you. Be careful not to come across disinterested, dismissive, or narcissistic especially if you’re interested
2) put a little effort in. Caring isn’t too hard, and you clearly knew what you were getting yourself into
3) respect others. It doesn’t matter if you don’t agree with certain aspects of their lives, because it’s not for you to judge and act out on your judgement. No one declared you to be the supreme over-ruler of this world, nor them. You are one member of 7 billion, so don’t feel so entitled as to define someone else’s life. Enjoy your life, enjoy the company of others, and smile a little more.