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Breaking my silence on awkward silences

October 8th, 2009

Usually, when it comes to this topic I just sit there and wait for it to be over with (and yes, that’s what she said), but I’ve decided that I can’t ignore it anymore. It’s time to address it publicly.

Awkward silences are a sickness, and they plague communities such as JCU.

With a student body as small as ours, you end up meeting a good portion of your fellow students when you go out to the local establishments. Meeting a lot of people, however, can be a gift and curse. Think about when you run into those people you met last Saturday, but under more sobering circumstances. Questions arise, and things get awkward.

The biggest victims of this disorder are semi-acquaintances. People who know each other, but don’t really know each other. You met one time at a party through a mutual friend, but didn’t talk for more than 10-15 minutes. Where does that relationship stand now?

You walk past that person in the cafeteria on your way to get some of Jeff the Chef’s pasta. You see the semi-acquaintance approaching and your mind is racing faster than Usain Bolt before the last 10 meters of a race as you wonder, “Do I say ‘hi’? Does he/she remember that we met?”

I know you know the feeling you get when looking at the person walking towards you, then looking away, then looking back at the person, and so on. You wait for them to look back at you before you say anything, but what if your timing is off and eye contact never happens? Boom, friendship/semi-acquaintanceship over.

The worst part is that once one person gives another person the cold shoulder, the recipient of that icy shoulder feels slighted and then begins ignoring the giver.

It’s a complicated and vicious circle.

I’m not just calling people out for no reason, I experience this on a daily basis. Also, don’t confuse this for a one-sided accusation, I’ll freely admit that I’m guilty of doing it too.

As a matter of fact, this weekend several friends of mine were discussing how I tend to ignore people sometimes. They even invented a new term to describe me and others suffering from the same affliction: a meeter-non-greeter. If nothing else, it was a clever combination of rhyme and insult.

If I were expected to remember everyone that I’ve met here at JCU, then I would not meet that expectation. I mean, I can barely remember the names of my fellow CN staff members and all of their names are printed in a section of which I’m the editor.

To be fair, I’m under a lot of pressure due to the number of people that I come into contact with. I’m sure you did answer the Wonderword last April, but I have no recollection of our encounter. Stop being upset that I don’t ask you how your day is going when I pass you on the way to my 10 a.m. class.

Given my not-so-recent ambitions for the spotlight and political offices, I probably shouldn’t be avoiding contact with others (except for Thetas, I’ve heard they don’t like me too much). So I’m making a commitment to get better at not ignoring people.

If you legitimately know me, i.e. we met at a social event and I looked like I tried really hard to remember your name, then don’t be afraid to say something. Sometimes I don’t pay attention and end up not making eye contact with people when passing. My bad, I can’t help that I’m oblivious.