Stop trying to escape from reality, social interaction


Graphic by Brooke Dembin 22

Technology worsen people’s social skills by isolating themselves from interactions that they wish to avoid.

Does the thought of having to speak to a total stranger send butterflies straight to your stomach? Do you feel a lump develop in your throat before you go to a party with a ton of people? Do you feel like everyone is judging you? Well, I can confidently tell you that these are things that happen to me on the daily. You might be wondering how I cope with these unsettling feelings, and the only answer I have for you is technology. 

Technology allows for people to escape their anxiety, providing them with a sense of privacy, safety and relaxation. 

But while technology allows for people to isolate themselves from the world around them, and in many instances, help them destress, it can also worsen people’s social skills.

The thought of having to interact with strangers and make small talk raises anxiety in some people. So, those with social anxiety may use headphones or cellphones as convenient crutches because wearing headphones or staring at phones makes it clear that they’re not up for socializing and just want to keep to themselves.

But using technology as an excuse not to socialize only worsens the problem. 

We all know the uncomfortable feeling when we’re about to walk by a group of people and want to avoid the awkward eye contact and stare downs. Every time I’m faced with this situation, I glance down at my phone and scroll through it meaninglessly to make it appear as though I’m occupied, when in reality, I’m doing it to avoid interaction. 

Talking to new people or even big groups of people can be extremely overwhelming because of inner thoughts that race through our minds, making us paranoid about how we may appear to others, or because people may have a fear of change and the idea of being vulnerable with another. 

Social anxiety isn’t something that one can easily overcome; however, taking baby steps can lead to both improvement and, potentially, success. 

For those who may be hesitant regarding interacting with those who are unfamiliar to them, starting off simply by preparing for the social situation that they will encounter will allow them gain more confidence in their ability to socialize.

For example, let’s say you plan on going to a party and are extremely nervous. Finding a friend and asking if you can stick by them for the night will allow you to expose yourself to a social situation while providing comfort in that you have someone to rely on. 

So, next time you’re presented with a nerve racking social situation, challenge your negative thoughts and worries and own who you are.