Social Awkwardness?

  • Tutorialist

    This thread is for general things that are considered 'normal' or 'something a standard person does' but that you find awkward or uncomfortable for whatever reason.

    I'll start:

    Does anyone else find eye-contact uncomfortable? There's that word from the dictionary of obscure sorrows "opia".

    n. the ambiguous intensity of looking someone in the eye, which can feel simultaneously invasive and vulnerable—their pupils glittering, bottomless and opaque—as if you were peering through a hole in the door of a house, able to tell that there’s someone standing there, but unable to tell if you’re looking in or looking out.

    This typically feels pretty spot on for me. I'm not one of those people that looks away out of like shame, or feeling particularly submissive to the other person. It's just damned uncomfortable. I also generally don't even like looking at someone directly when I'm talking to them.

    I'm not trying to be rude, it's just-- uncomfortable. People's eyes creep me out.

  • That... specifically reminds me of someone. And that description could not have been more apt if it had been written about him specifically. He was a lovely sweetheart of a person, and was a complete stoner -- so he had a way of staring off into space or at something or someone at length without ever realizing he was doing it, because he really was off in his own little world in his head.

    He also had the most beautiful eyes any of us that knew him had ever seen. Ever. No models, no actors, nobody tops this guy; it's been 20+ years and I'd swear by this even today.

    We also all would have sworn he had a supernatural power of some kind that would stop people dead in their tracks when he was looking at them, even if he was just staring off into space. I watched conversations just trail off and die when he was staring at the back of someone's head and they couldn't even tell he was looking at them over the two years we were in college classes together -- it was just as surreal as could be. It was like the direct opposite of the 'cobra stare' (intimidate and hypnofreeze); it was instant floaty awkweird distracted silence.

    So while I'm not in the same boat by default, there are absolutely people I've encountered that can cause it (or something that seems like what that describes), and it is a feeling I can only describe as 'triggers the urge to shift from foot to foot uncomfortably as though doing the pee-pee dance in incredibly slow motion while trying to not ponder what it means that the universe is infinite and just how small we all are in it because... wasn't I supposed to be doing something else right now?'.

  • Pitcrew

    Not social awkwardness, but: people publicly spitting weirds me the fuck out.

    This didn't used to be so common ~20 years ago as it is now. I'm a woman IRL, and I'll see guys walking down the street, just spit like it's completely fucking normal, and it repulses me. I want to bring back spittoons and make them mandatory at every city block.

    Is anyone else weirded out by this? Why is it so prevalent nowadays beyond the obvious answers? I can't be the only one out there who finds it not only gross but odd. Also it's going on 5 AM and I'm still awake because ???. Send help please.

  • Tutorialist

    @fortydeuce I'm not really weirded out by it, but kind of like: Ew, that's gross. Especially if it's a giant snorting-snorgling lugie.

  • Pitcrew

    @cobaltasaurus Oh God, yes. I just don't know why it's become so public nowadays, besides the old canard that "people are just ruder now" (but I bet every generation says that in their time). It's freaky, and completely shameless, and I just... can't.

  • Tutorialist

    @fortydeuce I can't stand the sound of someone eating, or hawking a lugie. Basically wet mouth noises bother the fuck out of me.

  • Pitcrew

    @cobaltasaurus I'm fine with eating noises, just as long as people close their mouths (not a fan of the visuals of ABC food).

    In something at least less overtly gross, I'm still flinchy around Bluetooth phone conversations (even though it's been, what, ten years now that that's been a thing?). I have a bad startle reflex IRL because of boringmedicalthings, and every time someone starts talking out of the blue like that I jump a mile in the air. Bonus points if they look at you while they talk on the phone, leading to the inevitable "What the fuck do you w -- oh, you're just talking on your Bluetooth. Kay." song and dance.

  • Tutorialist

    @fortydeuce Slightly off tangent since most people agree that chewing with your mouth open or eating loudly is gross but-- an ex of mine used to eat so loudly and so slovenly that I would get embarrassed around our friends, and would get enraged when we were in private. Basically, I could hear him eating and it would make me angry.

    I really, really hate hearing people eat.

  • Pitcrew

    @cobaltasaurus "an ex of mine" = asked and answered. My sympathies!

    (Time to go to sleep. Or try to. Caffeine is a hell of a drug.)

  • Pitcrew

    @cobaltasaurus I have to go into the other room and put on headphones when a friend of mine and my roommate's is over to play D&D. Like, I want to literally rip my ears off when he eats/drinks/sometimes breaths.

  • My #1 Oh God I Need to Hide in My Cave and Never Come Out-ism is what I just refer to as 'The Newt Scream'. Yeah, Newt, Aliens, that noise, which is a noise plenty of kids make all the time for a variety of reasons: extremely shrill and high-pitched and generally a sign of alarm.

    As humans we are evolutionarily conditioned to respond to this sound. We can't not hear it. It's in our hard wiring: "One of the younglings is in danger, bigger human, protect the youngling!" I am completely and totally unable, for whatever reason, to tune it out to the 'dull roar, maybe glance up and see if there's a child in peril' that most folks can and do if they even notice it at all.

    I hear this noise, and my whole body tenses enough to painfully cramp in an instant. I involuntarily flinch and shudder; I cannot NOT flinch and shudder. I feel an ache in my head pounding away as my blood pressure spikes right through the roof that is painful enough that sometimes my eyes will tear up. Essentially, even from a long distance away or over the din of a chatty crowd, my body responds to this noise the way a normal person would respond to someone firing off an air horn right up against their ear and I can do roughly jack nor shit about it.

    No, I don't hate your kid.
    No, I don't think your kid did something bad for making a noise that is as involuntary as my response to your kid's noise is.
    No, I don't think you're a shitty parent because your kid made a noise kids often make simply because they are kids.

    I can't filter background noise and I have exceptionally sensitive hearing (both of which I was in years of therapy with an audiologist for when I was a kid myself) but even with that in mind, nothing ever made so much as a dent in this one.

    ETA: tl;dr: My worst fear is probably seeing The Babadook in a theater with a good sound system turned up to high with the doors locked. I would not simply shout "fire" to escape, I would set one and hope I burn to death before the film ends.

  • Pitcrew

    Yeah. I am on the autism spectrum and have always struggled with eye contact. I have to actively think about trying to make eye contact in order to do so and always have. I never been able to just naturally make eye contact without effort and awkwardness.

    I have lots of other socially awkward traits, but it would be a huge tldr list.

    One of the most out there is when I get up and bounce suddenly without fully realizing I did that. I will be like daydreaming about fighting evil on Arx or something and start hopping about while thinking of the excitement. I am able to now mostly keep this to my house though. Although I have broke my arm and sprained my ankle before, tripping over things while bouncing. That can be so awkward.

  • Eye contact is def. a big one. I have to put extreme effort into it, which I save for job interviews. Otherwise... nope, not doing it. Too uncomfortable.

    My mind makes connections in weird places, so I go off on strange tangents. Which means I fall into the 'makes very odd, often inappropriate comments' category. This might be why I find myself more comfortable around male-identifying folks than female, because they're often more forgiving. They'll laugh it off, maybe tease you, or sometimes even roll with it.

    I've had women carry it like a grudge that I made an off-hand comment they were bothered by and hold it against me for months, even years. (And please don't come after me for generalizing; I've just never personally had a man do this.)

    Being on the spectrum, even high functioning is hard. Hell, being high functioning is almost harder at times because most of the world isn't aware you are, so when you have your bad days or your triggers... people don't know 'okay, this is just a moment, it'll pass.' They think 'this person is consciously being shitty.'

    I have days where certain sounds (usually high-pitched, repetitive ones) bother me. They make me really irritated and prone to anger. And I'll get to where I can't even articulate myself clearly. I just know I'm really, really upset and I don't have words for how upset I am, but I can't trace it back to that barely audible whine the HVAC is making every other minute.

  • Eye contact is a funny thing. When I was in school I was definitely on the shy side, so eye contact was very uncomfortable for me. And then school turned to work, and it became a bit more important to appear more "professional", so I had to force myself to do it.

    Funny thing is, after a few years I moved into management and by then I had enough practice that eye contact doesn't bother me anymore. So I do think this is something that can be overcome.

  • Pitcrew

    I have a problem with staring.

    I tend to zero in on particular item in my eyeline, and more often than not that ends up being a person's face. And it's not that I'm trying to get their attention, it's just a sort of weird hyperawareness of my surroundings. I have a similar problem with hearing; conversations around me tend to become sharp and it's hard to disengage from having reactions even though it has nothing to do with me.

    I know it just sounds like I'm nosey, but honest to betsy if I could turn it off, I would.

  • I totally get drawn into locking on to faces/pictures of faces. Usually when I'm way too far in my own head. Not very situationally aware at all, though.
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  • Hovering behind me is my big 'do not do' thing. It legit freaks me out and ramps my anxiety up tenfold if there's someone just... lurking around behind me looking over my shoulder. I had to tell my boss to stop it because it makes me nervous. Not because its him, but just.. A person standing behind me.

  • Pitcrew

    @cobaltasaurus said in Social Awkwardness?:

    @fortydeuce I can't stand the sound of someone eating, or hawking a lugie. Basically wet mouth noises bother the fuck out of me.

    Did you know there's an actual disorder? Not saying you have it, but legit....

  • @miss-demeanor said in Social Awkwardness?:

    Hovering behind me is my big 'do not do' thing. It legit freaks me out and ramps my anxiety up tenfold if there's someone just... lurking around behind me looking over my shoulder. I had to tell my boss to stop it because it makes me nervous. Not because its him, but just.. A person standing behind me.

    I can't stand sitting where people even have the opportunity to walk/stand behind me. I'll end up in the state of shaking with anxiety from it. :|

  • Pitcrew

    @miss-demeanor said in Social Awkwardness?:

    Hovering behind me is my big 'do not do' thing. It legit freaks me out and ramps my anxiety up tenfold if there's someone just... lurking around behind me looking over my shoulder. I had to tell my boss to stop it because it makes me nervous. Not because its him, but just.. A person standing behind me.

    My entire setup at home is to avoid this, I even have a screen divider to lock away my computer corner. Save for when the wife and I are watching shows. That seems to be the loop hole, she has the recliner a little to the left and behind, and we sit and watch things together. usually with dinner. But if she lingers or hangs out while I am MUing or Gaming or Drawing... it sets my skin crawling and my anxiety through the roof.

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