Sunday, June 5, 2011

Awkward

I've been told sometimes that I'm socially awkward. It's a criticism that I accept begrudgingly, but I know that it's mostly correct. There are certain things that I just don't "get" when it comes to humor, and I can put my foot in my mouth very often. Just a few weeks ago, I remember I posted a comment on a dear friend's Facebook status (or it might have been a photograph, now that I think about it.) Either way, the comment was intended to just be kind of a joke, but I suppose it was awkward enough that the friend deleted it. He politely told me why, and I have absolutely no beef with him about it. I know he's a great friend who cares about me, so that didn't bother me. What bothered me was that, once again, I had unwittingly made a social faux pas when I simply was trying to be, well, humorous.

Frankly, it's moments like that that make me not want to even try. Facebook can be one of the more unhealthy things when it comes to revealing one's social awkwardness, because I can easily compare myself to other people. I see friends posting inside jokes back and forth. I see them make comments about how cool they are. I see spontaneous comments about how certain people miss each other, and want to talk on the phone or hang out. None of these folks are doing anything wrong, but I can't help but feel like being left out most of the time, because even though I think I'm a good and loyal friend, that kind of expressiveness is beyond me. I want to be in on the inside jokes, the spontaneous messages, the random hangouts and visits... And yet I'm really not. And every time I try to become that kind of person, it usually ends up awkwardly and poorly. And since Facebook (and the Internet in general) seems very committed to the notion of tabulating and recording who we are and what our relationships look like, that can lead to some pretty heavy feelings of not stacking up to what other people do. Emotionally, but not logically, I tabulate who my real friends are by who writes on my wall, or who jokes around with me, or who chats with me spontaneously. Logically, that's silly, but social networking has become such a part of life in this century that I doubt I'm the only one who experiences this phenomenon.

This extends to my relationship with Christ, as well. Facebook, perhaps more than any other medium, allows us to see how other Christians in our lives operate, and it creates a lot of awkwardness (at least for me) because we also know that we're being watched by our brothers and sisters in Christ. I have some wonderful, expressive, loving Christian friends who daily put up a wise Christian status update, or a link to a Christian worship song, or a relevant quotation of a Bible verse, and each time it's liked by a ton of people and there are comments of "Amen!" or "Well said!" or "You're such a wise brother! I'm thankful to know you!" And it's not necessarily a bad thing, nor do I think it's disingenuous, because these people are wise brothers and sisters and I am very thankful to know them. But I also look at my wall, and see the general lack of those Facebook Christian tropes, and I end up feeling insecure. Just like a knack for witty Facebook comments and inside jokes somehow makes me feel like those who excel at them are more successful in life, socially, a knack for putting up relevant, poignant quotes and Bible verses makes me think of those who post them as "better Christians." And I look at my wall, and my random assortment of funny articles, indie videos and general randomness, and I go, "Oh, man... They must think I don't really care about Christ."

I do, of course. I care about him more than I could ever put into words (which might be a reason I leave it off Facebook, for the most part.) I've often had a difficult time expressing my faith. My testimony, last week at my baptism, had the general feeling of a horrified squeak on my part. I was just so nervous. I don't know the right contemporary Christian songs. I don't raise my hands in the air when I sing. I tend to be really cynical and sarcastic. It's not the kind of personality that really "fits in" to the chipper, emotional groups of evangelicals that I've known in the past. Yet I think Facebook gives us mirrors where we make side-by-side comparisons of ourselves and others. Just like I may look at the banter between two friends of mine and go, "Oh, I wish I could joke around with them like that," I can look at someone's wall and go, "Oh, I wish I knew as many Bible verses or quotes from popular pastors as that guy." The main difference is that I think it's fairly appropriate to try to joke around with someone in an attempt to break out of your shell and insert yourself into the conversation. To post "Christian stuff" on Facebook when I don't really feel genuine about it, but just because I want folks to think better of me, would be kind of gross. I should wait until I actually have something that I genuinely want to say, and I guess I'll just have to accept the fact that that's going to be less often than some people, and I just hope I can survive the awkwardness in between now and then.

5 comments:

  1. I think I would recommend a vigorous regimen of real life. Do you have a dog? Nothing like a dog to make you too busy for online social networking. An added bonus: the dog is always on your side. You decide to go someplace with your dog, the dog will have no problems with your wardrobe, your driving or your parking spot. The dog will express no objection to any pizza ingredient. (Although you want to avoid onions, which are toxic to dogs, and I choose to enforce a strict "No licking my plate within 24-hours of eating cat poop" rule.)

    What's this about baptism? Is this your first? I've always had the impression (possibly mistaken) that Christian sects generally took a dim view of second baptisms even for a person converting from one sect to another. Although now that I think of it, there must be plenty of Roman Catholic converts who get double dipped even thought official church teaching is that a Protestant baptism is generally valid.

    But the "one baptism" principle has a lot of history. That's why it's in the Nicene creed, right? Council of Nicea wanted to nip that multiple baptism business in the bud.

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  2. Hey,

    reading your post made me think about my own journey. I have certainly felt the same, but mostly this was before Facebook existed. Often I would hear about a party that I wasn't invited to, or times that other friends had caught up with each other and I thought 'what's wrong with me??'... as for all the 'christian' postings on Facebook these days, I have one particular friend who has about 1000 'friends' and she is always just posting "christian" things, while I hardly ever do. It's easy for me to think maybe I'm not religious enough, but that would totally be missing the point!
    Last night in our bible study discussion we were talking about genuine faith, and why we go to church, and how God really desires our hearts, and giving because we *want* to, not just because someone might expect us to behave in a certain way.
    Maybe something to try could be a 1 week facebook fast? It always clears my head a bit when I go away on holiday without internet connection and realise how much I actually don't need such things :P

    But know that it won't always be like this! I think I've come a long way in not feeling so insecure about what people thought of me, and not doing the perceived right thing.. and now when I see those christian quotes I don't feel judged about my own. :)

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  3. Well, I was going to facebook you something, but I decided I might do a better job by responding here.

    To begin with, I can understand how you feel. I think, to an extent, it's only natural for us to compare ourselves to others. I was actually telling my brother earlier today about just how pathetic I feel that I am in comparison to some of my cousins. They seem to have things pretty well together in life and... well, I don't. It just sort of makes me wonder where I went wrong. But really that's not a very good attitude to have, because most all people have their own private struggles. Their's may just not be as obvious as mine.

    Like you, I am somewhat, and at times very, socially awkward. It's honestly a wonder I am ever able to speak coherently to people. And, again like you, my jokes never seem to be funny. I could tell a joke I've heard someone else say and get laughs a thousand different times, but if I say it, nobody gets it.

    Thing is, we shouldn't judge ourselves looking at others. Socially, you may be awkward, but look at how much better a writer you are compared to so many others. Everyone has his or her own strengths and weaknesses. In this regard, you are no different than anyone else. So, you're normal, really.

    Just don't beat yourself when you seem to not be fitting in. Social awkwardness is just a more obvious fault (if it really even could be called a fault--maybe annoyance would be better). Good thing about it though, is that often it can be dealt with by laughing. Flub up a joke, just laugh it off and say so. No one else laughs, you laugh (make them think they were the ones who couldn't get it, not that you didn't say it right). Say something inappropriate or all jumbled up, laugh it off and start over (or apologize, depending).

    As for the quotes, God knows where your heart is. That's all that matters. I know a lot of people probably wouldn't call me the best Christian out there because I don't do this or that, but God knows my heart is with him and that's all that matters.

    God bless ya! :)

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  4. Hello Jay. I've been where you are. I tried to be popular even though I didn't necessarily want to be popular that way. I tried to be popular because others are/were. I then realized that is so un-Christian. Why was I trying to be like everybody else? I know the jealousy of seeing friends and non-friends alike seeming to be popular and knowing that I'm not. The point is God made us all different. Popular and not so popular. Be happy how and where you are. Be happy in Christ without being Mr. Popularity. Let all the worldly trappings such as ego and wanting to be in like everybody else go. Just think of the many saints gone before us that weren't popular on Facebook but did the Lord's work. God is not calling for popularity but for people wanting God's heart. Look for that. Facebook won't seem to matter as much.
    Blessings!
    Eddie

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  5. I've definitely had an awkward Facebook moment that was very similar to yours, except there was beef between us after.

    No matter how much you succeed, there is always someone better than you and someone worse off than you, so comparing yourself to others in any sense becomes a never ending paradox. Others can look at you and wish they had what you had. You may not have friends on Facebook commenting on every thing you post, but many Christian bloggers, don't have the following and support that you seem to have and could easily look at your blog(s) and envy you as well and wonder what's wrong with them.


    This world is broken in so many ways. No one and nothing is perfect except God and people, life and yes, even pets, will continue to let you down because while we were designed to be flawless and are programmed to understand and strive for perfection, without God, we cannot achieve it. For Christians, God is there, repairing the wounds that sin has caused. If your friends online seem superficial, think about the one Friend who is very real, geniuine and is always there for you, loving you in all your awkwardness, because He understands you more than anyone ever will, even more than yourself.

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