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Preventing Social Awkwardness in a Digital World

Updated: Oct 19, 2020

A person's hands holding a smart phone

Social awkwardness is a real thing that many people experience and unfortunately, the advanced technology we have these days aren’t doing us any favors.

In fact, many studies have shown that the prevalence of smartphones and social media has made us more anxious which can worsen our feelings of social awkwardness.

Yes, technology has allowed us to connect with almost anyone in the world and in an instant, but it’s not without its disadvantages. Social anxiety and technology can be directly correlated.

So, how does one prevent social awkwardness in the digital world?

Why do we experience social awkwardness in the first place?

1. We are forgetting how to socialize properly.

The digital world has made connecting with others easier and more convenient but communicating via a screen is vastly different than being able to connect with someone in person. It’s much more difficult to gauge reactions and social cues from texts and chats compared to when you’re spending time with a person in real life. That is why more and more people are having challenges in overcoming social anxiety because of technology.

Moreover, it’s easier to remove yourself from a situation in the digital world compared to in-person interactions where you can’t just get up and leave whenever you feel uncomfortable.

2. There are too many distractions.

When communicating via chat or text, it’s easy to simply switch to another app while waiting for a reply or multitask. As such, it can make us miss important details in the conversation which can lead to misunderstanding and social awkwardness.

Girl concerned by what she reads on her smart phone

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So, how do you prevent social awkwardness in the digital world?

1. Be more present.

It can be easy to become distracted when you’re only communicating through chat or text, and with the already diminished social cues, it can also be easy to miss crucial information in the conversation.

In addition, it’s best to avoid engaging in other activities while in an active conversation with someone, similar to how you would normally interact in person. Be more present in the conversation. If you must avert your attention, make sure to read the previous messages to ensure you don’t miss anything.

2. Think before you send.

The great thing about technology is that you have time to craft your response, compared to real-life situations where the person you are speaking to needs an immediate reaction or answer. So, to avoid social awkwardness, carefully think about what you want to say before you hit send.

After all, it’s much harder to communicate via chat and text than an in-person interaction, as there are no visible non-verbal cues to go on.

3. Ask questions.

If you’re uncomfortable or don’t know how to reply in a certain situation, then why not try asking questions? This will encourage the other person to express their thoughts and allow them to keep the conversation going while you listen, or in this case, read. Asking questions and learning to be comfortable doing it can eventually help you learn how to overcome social anxiety.

Final Thoughts

The digital world has made reaching others easier and more convenient, but this doesn’t come without its disadvantages. Social awkwardness can not only lead to anxiety and depression, but it can also cause self-esteem issues due to overall societal pressures.

However, being present, thinking before you hit send, and asking questions can help you deal with some of the awkwardness you feel in virtual conversations. Avoiding social anxiety is not easy, especially with the digital world blurring the line. However, as long as you stay genuine in making connections, you will begin to find comfort in this new practice of technological living.

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