Alejandro Moreno de Carlos

You're Probably Making Yourself More Awkward Without Even Realizing It


Comedian John Mulaney has this joke about the struggles of being social where he says, "In terms of like, instant relief, canceling plans is like heroin."

And it's true, canceling plans to do nothing or just be by yourself feels amazing. But like anything else that feels good, if you do it too much, it can turn into a bad thing.

According to new research, staying in too much instead of going out with friends is possibly making you more awkward than you already are.

Bring on the anxiety.

Based on this recent study published in Developmental Psychology, college students who chose to stay in to play video games instead of going out became even more withdrawn over the course of a year.

But playing video games isn't the issue. The findings proved that when antisocial people chose video games over socializing, it made them more likely to be depressed and get into trouble.

The study involved monitoring 204 students from two public universities. The students self-reported on their social lives in the beginning and at the end of one year. Based on the reports, researchers found that students who avoided social situations and used "problematic media," meaning violent video games, were worse off than other shy individuals.

Not all introverted and shy people are the same. According to the researchers, there are three categories of people: shy, unsocial and avoidant. Shy people want to be social but are held back by fear. Unsocial people have no problem interacting with others, but just choose not to. And avoidant people just avoid human interaction altogether.

What it really comes down to is motivation. Basically, not all motivation for social withdrawal is harmful or bad. But what the research found is that when you combine an avoidant person with violent video games, it's a problem. Based on the research, this specific group was more likely to struggle with depression and get into trouble (like crime and drugs) later on.

In general, no matter what type of "shy" you are, the research found that if you don't use it, you lose it. "It" being the ability to socialize comfortably.

If you already feel awkward being around other people, especially new people, think about what you're doing in your free time. Maybe those activities are affecting how comfortable you feel socializing.

Citations: The irony of awkward: Taking yourself out of uncomfortable situations makes you more uncomfortable in the long run (BYU News), The irony of awkward (Eurekalert)