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Getting over being Social Awkward

Social media has created an entire subset of social awkwardness that has not been helped along by Covid-19. We used to be taught in school how to interact, be polite speak when spoken to, make polite conversation. Now we have people who will sit at the dinner table with their families and text under the table because they don't want to speak to each other. We have lost the art of interaction by our most basic means of speech.

Learning how to once again interact with people can be as simple as just saying hi to someone. Now the we are all wearing masks, its hard to smile, but we can still make eye contact, nod our heads and then say 'Good Morning" or "How are you?" These are lost social graces that keep us connected and make us feel that everyone has importance and value. Too many of us are separated by our own fears and failures that we suffer in silence and do not know how to reach out to others when we are feeling sad and lonely.

this is the whole premise behind a '5 minute friend'. Having an interaction with a total stranger that is completely superficial but allows you to share a conversation with someone and feel connected even if it is only over something as insignificant as a head of cabbage in the grocery store. Human connection is so important that solitary confinement is a punishment in prisons. We need to converse with others, we need to feel connected to others and to interact in more ways than walking next to them as if we are all being herded into some large cattle loading zone.

The next time that you are at the grocery store, speak to someone for longer than 10 seconds by saying hello, good morning (or afternoon/evening) don't just say excuse me and walk right by; if you are not hurting and need some kind of human interaction, maybe that other person needs it. We don't know what someone else may be going through and our short little greeting is the only interaction that they have had all week.

I think one of the most beautiful places that I've lived in has been Germany.

Early in our marriage we lived there for several years and I became functionally fluent in German, and was able to interact with the people that we attended church with. One of my greatest times in serving at our church was being a greeter to welcome people into church. Because the main sanctuary was upstairs, we had two greeter; one on the door downstairs as the first contact and then another outside the sanctuary. This was a non-denominational German/American church located in Heidelberg Germany. I felt it was my job to be enthusiastic, shaking someones hand, giving them a big smile and saying "Guten Morgan, Wie gehts!"

My friend had once told me that they put me on the door downstairs to get the people shaken out of their stupor and excited for church, and then they have enough time to to compose themselves while going up the stairs.

As I was so overly excited, (which most older Germans are not) my friend had told me I shocked them and they had to have time to recover. I told my friend that the reason I was so excited and happy to engage them was that this may have been the only opportunity that someone actually took the time to shake their hand, tell them that I was genuinely glad to see them, and cared enough to wish them a good day. Many times this is the only happy interaction they have had all week.

Now this is not to say that all Germans are quiet and do not interact with people, they are just more reserved than Americans are and will wait to decide if they want to be friends with you. I just happen to think that human interaction is too important to wait for. I have met too many people who are sad and isolated with no one caring about them at all, and they go through life feeling lonely. This is getting worse and it does not have to be our reality.

Learn how to have a 5 minute friend, speak to someone in slow interactions so that you can get used to at least saying 'Hello' then move your way up to 'How are you?' Then add another sentence, and each time you do this you will feel rejuvenated!

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