Bluffton Today Column
February 17, 2010
I was at an event a few months ago where I didn’t know the majority of the guests. There, I was introduced to a woman who said, “I think we’ve met before, I am friends with so-and-so.” Ah yes, I vaguely remember, “good to see you again!”
Two hours and one open bar later and vaguely familiar woman and I started chatting. Then, she leans in real close and says, “I heard all about what happened with you and your husband”. The shock of her statement prevented me from saying anything at the time (however in hindsight, I can think of plenty to say). So she proceeded to provide me with all of the details regarding my break-up with my ex-husband. Which by the way, I was already aware of. I mean, it was my story she was re-telling me.
Aaaaaaawkward.Ok almost stranger, now where do we go from here?
Utterly infelicitous social moments happen all the time. And it is how you handle those moments that probably define you best. So, in a rare moment of self-control, I swallowed back the lump in my throat, blinked back my tears, tilted back my drink, high-tailed it to the bathroom, and immediately commenced breathing exercises in order to prevent gasket blowing.
But, I am not usually so well-mannered.
In fact, I avoid awkward moments and unwanted conversations every day. Every day. It is a skill. One that has been made universally easier now that we all posses a Blackberry, an iPhone, or whatever latest handheld technology suits us best. “Handheld” being the operative term here; because we are always clutching our devices in our sweaty little palms. We can’t put them down. We’re addicted. But, that’s ok. This obsession allows us to much more deftly perform a well-executed technology duck, or as my brilliant colleague dubbed it, the “tuck.”
You know the move. When someone that you have very little interest in speaking with, much less spending any quality time with, approaches and you raise your handheld device to eye-level and immediately begin pushing buttons. If you are lucky the phone will actually ring. If not, you can continue to pretend that you are taking some very important emails.
The “tuck” effectively deters any extraneous conversations. It also provides a security blanket. Meeting someone for drinks and you don’t want to walk into the restaurant alone? You’re not alone! Just hold up your handheld and it will be clear to everyone that you are concluding a very important business exchange, not a single woman hoping you haven’t been stood up.
This phenomenon is taking over society. In fact, 3,479,414 people are fans of “Pretending to Text in Awkward Situations” on Facebook.
In the old days, back when we used to walk up hill (both ways), barefoot in the snow, to get to school, we actually had to look someone in the eye and say, “I’m not interested.” Or, “please stop talking about that.” Or, “I’m not sure this is appropriate.”
Today however, thanks to the brilliance of the computer club kids (who walked up hill both ways with us), we can simply lift up our handheld and declare to the world with dexterous thumbs that text forty words a minute and declare, “I don’t give a damn what you have to say!”
Ironically, with the technology to text and email we are saying more … but communicating less.
P.S. I am still searching for the “friend” who shared all of the details of my life with an utter stranger. Of course, once I figure out who you are, and when I bump into you again, you can be certain that I will deliver a big ol’ tuck (to) you.
March Writing Assignment
11 years ago