I’ve always been socially awkward in my life. I never talked until I was nearly 4 years old. I’ve never had someone to call my best friend, because all the people I’ve known haven’t wanted to hang out with me. I’ve never enjoyed being around large groups of people, and not comfortable around public spaces like malls. I’m horrible on the phone and can’t even talk on the phone while people are in same vicinity as me. Even in person, I screw up language by mumbling, mixing up words in the order of a sentence, mispronouncing words, and so on.
This part of me is probably the only constant in my entire 26 years of life. I’ve changed physically (a rollercoaster of weight on/weight off), I’ve changed reading styles, changed directions on where I’d like to go with my career (as a kid it was a paleotologist, to archaeology, to sociology, to theatre now) and have changed clothing style. I’ve had different tv habits over the years, changed where I’ve lived by choice, have had different eating habits, and even flirted with different sexual preferences. But being socially awkward is always with me.
For the past ten years, the internet has been a large part of my life. I’ve lurked everywhere imaginable in the online world, from the text world of muds, irc, ICQ (before it was even at version 1.0), MSN, AIM, Yahoo, to experimentations with 3D virtual worlds and interfaces, web browsers (Mosaic and Netscape, Internet Explorer, Firefox, Maxthon, Opera, Flock), downloaded software, music and movies with HotClient, Kazaa, Bearshare, Limewire, bittorrent… subscribe to rss feeds, have tried to write on several blogs, have websites, etc. This lifestyle has been very comfortable for me. I’ve met a lot of people over these years, some good friendships that ultimately end for some reason. I’ve learned a lot about life while talking with these people, reading stuff on the web, etc. I’ve discovered a lot about myself, and have become fairly comfortable with talking with people.
But the past two weeks, I’m becoming more and more aware of how awkward my communication skills have become in all aspects of my life. Conversations with people using MSN and such generally stall because I can’t think of good things to say. Conversations with me are becoming more like interrogation sessions than a discussion between two people. I ask a question, and either make some dumb or obvious comment about the response that it leads to nothing, or I ask more questions. I’m getting more frustrated with all this but I don’t seem to be able to break out of this funk.
My reliance on the internet has made me wonder why people like me would evolve. Humans are such social creatures, why would quiet, introvert people show up who fail miserably while around people or in positions where they have to talk? And what happens to people like me who are horrible with people in person, but then also fail with their communication with people online? Do I become a hermit and just watch tv all day? How do I change this?