Is social media making us socially awkward?

I always hear my older family members say that “technology is making you kids socially awkward.” My response to that is usually to tweet about how much I hate family dinners.

But is technology actually making us awkward?Quite honestly, I don’t think so. But maybe my definition of awkward is a little different than most people’s definition. I feel awkward when someone gets on the elevator and starts blabbing about the weather. But when I get on the elevator and everyone looks down at their phones, all is well with the world.

Don’t get me wrong, I like human interaction. I just hate small talk — I always have. When I see someone I know and love, I don’t want to drone on about the weather or “what a lovely day it is!” I want to have deep, intelligent conversations.

Adorable or awkward? Photo by Stephen Furtado.

Social media may distract us sometimes when we’re with friends we’re comfortable around, but it also opens doors. I love when I meet someone at a party or through a mutual friend and find a nice little friend request from them on Facebook when I get home. Then we can “like” each other’s statuses and maybe even get to talking. I have several close friends who I originally befriended online. It can also speed conversations up. It’s so easy for someone to tweet about something you agree with and next time you happen to run into that person at a kegger, bring that topic up.

Keeping up with friends from your past is also easy with social media. Not that it’s incredibly hard to call your best friend from fifth grade from time to time, but with social media you can keep up with not only your long-lost BFF, but your entire fifth grade class. I know that when a new social media site has its moment of fame, the first people I add to my friends list are the people I never want to lose touch with.

As someone who grew up in a military family and has moved several times throughout their life, I’ve made hundreds of connections throughout my short time on this earth. Without social media, it’d be impossible for me to keep up with all of those people. With social media, you can see what an old friend is doing every day. When I reunited with my best friend from Florida a few years ago, reconnecting was so easy because we already knew what the other one was up to. She already had a list of my friends that she had seen on my Facebook page that she had wanted to meet, and I already knew what kind of topics interested her after the 5 years that we had been separated.

Social media can be very distracting. Because of this, I have a certain etiquette that I follow as far as using my phone goes: I don’t text at the table, I try not to text too much when someone is telling me something important and I try to finish a story before falling silent as I text my mom back. But let’s be honest, all manners are forgotten when I’m hanging out with my closest circle of friends. I regularly have to lecture some of my friends about how rude it is to start watching Vines while I’m in the middle of a story.

Some may like to argue that social media has turned us into socially awkward hermits, but I really don’t think that’s the case. Social media can be distracting, and there are some ground rules we should all have, but all in all, social media has opened more doors than it has closed.