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// At Le Moyne College

The Plague of My Generation: Awkwardness

Before it was public policies, not feelings, that overcame society.

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It is truly tragic how every generation preceding mine has experienced some disease, war, or affliction on society. In the 1920s, polio gained infamy. In the 1940s, World War II made everyone question the power of influence. Then came the 1950s, which saw the reign of tuberculosis. Civil Rights of the 1960s followed, proving the assertion that social constructions may be changed. At one point, everyone was convinced their neighbor was a spy. Even running away from home, protesting a war, and joining a group of stoners was in style. Now, what do we have? Marriage equality, OK, great. More of a focus on saving the planet—cool. But we have a very silent, very tragic problem in society—one that allows us to hide.

Awkwardness has shifted from being an uncomfortable feeling of cluelessness and tension to a social construct. When someone asks how to describe yourself, it is now acceptable to say, "I'm awkward." Had we not built this, it would not exist. So why did we build it? We live in a society where about 20 percent of teens and 18 percent of the adult population will experience Depression. Any lessening of pure social interaction, we accept.

I can recall once, a friend and I were FaceTiming. He had wanted to ask me something, but couldn't seem to find the words for it. So he opened up the chat box, and messaged me his question. All decorated with emojis, the question surprised me. Not because of its relation to the conversation, but because here I was, right in front of him, though we were actually miles apart, the sound working perfectly on both of our computers, and he could not ask me the question—he had to type it.

Awkwardness has become an excuse. My friend felt more comfortable typing than talking. Before, it was something you felt, not something you were. It is now more than being shy. It is knowing you have the option and going with it.

It is more infectious than any disease, but it is curable. Developing social confidence is key. Once you feel you can undertake the situation to your benefit, you won't be as scared anymore. But knowing social norms, too. Maybe you are at a friend's house for the first time. Watch what everyone else does, learn from it. It's not about being right or wrong, it's about conforming, unfortunately. Once you conform, you are no longer the "odd man out." Use this and put yourself in social situations to apply it.

Awkwardness is sad to think about in the broader sense, because due to our Twitter accounts, Snapchats, texting etc. it is easier to send a winky face emoji than articulate what really needs to be said. No generation before us was able to "get away" with such a societal problem, why should we?

I prefer my coffee scalding hot, with shots of Austen and Locke.

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