Awkward. It was the sighting of a woman that cannot be described by anything other than the word “awkward” that got me thinking how prevalent that expression has become. Usually, the expression is used in the past-tense: “Oh, that was awkward!” But now popping up obnoxiously in the silence between any kind conversation presumably to fill the void while simultaneously raising awareness to the fact that one or both of us is socially retarded:
Recently, a close friend of mine disclosed to me that her entire life can be summed up with the word “awkward”. What an ubiquitous yet strange word indeed! Even the English word itself is kinda awkward eh? I mean… the ‘a’… and the ‘w’… and then the ‘k’… and then another ‘w’… it just looks kinda funny, no? In any case, I want to get to the bottom of why this word is used so much nowadays to characterize our day-to-day existence.
I think most of the time that word is used today to describe some social situation that does not go as smooth as expected or simply unplanned for: “That was an awkward encounter!”
It can be used to describe a person: “She sure is one awkward-looking person”.
And it can also be a feeling: “Geez, that sure felt awkward”.
Generally, the word conveys the sense that something just isn’t right. But I think that’s not actually the case at all. It’s not just that “something” isn’t right, but rather something doesn’t feel right. Awkwardness has to do more with our internal feelings than the external circumstances we find ourselves in. One tentative hypothesis is that we feel awkward when we unexpectedly become aware of ourselves as fully autonomous human beings that should be capable of speaking but find ourselves unable to form meaningful sentences. We have unintentionally nurtured an autistic culture where picking up the phone and calling someone seems rather intrusive and impolite. Text messaging and facebook is easier. No need to read social cues and no need to reply on time like in a “real” conversation. One can spend that extra time crafting that perfect, witty response to send to that cute girl you just met… wait, but awkward people don’t go out to meet people… so forget that example… makes no sense. Awkward…
Let’s be honest with ourselves, having a real conversation with someone is hard. It’s especially hard when the other person is unfortunate-looking, utterly stupid and, which by the way, just also happens to be your boss. I mean, why should we talk to them, right? It’s fuckin’ disgusting, mate. (Read the above with a British accent.) There’s also the problem of intentions. Are you talking to me just so you can get into my pants? Or are you talking to me because you don’t really want to talk to me… what? Awkward…
Add to losing our basic conversation skills, I just think that we’re just so used to not feeling anything at all on text messaging and facebook (other than misplaced envy) that whenever we experience any feeling or emotion we automatically assume something is wrong… but we just don’t know what… nor sure of why… until we realize, fuck, it’s okay to feel uncomfortable and uncertain sometimes, it’s a normal part of being a human fuckin’ being.