Panic tangible as you attempt to navigate social situation
By Michele Provenzano, Staff Writer
It started out like any other day. You were minding your own business, strolling across campus to class when it happened.
Down the hall, you saw that guy from one of your classes. Luke, you think his name is. Okay, who are you kidding? You know his name is Luke. But he never actually personally told you that his name is Luke—you simply heard the professor call him by his name. You feel weird knowing this. Are you allowed to know this? More precisely, are you allowed to admit that you know this?!
You two don’t know each other very well; you have only spoken once when you were placed into the same discussion group in class. Would he remember you? Surely, if you recognize him, he must recognize you… right?
As you both walked in each other’s direction, you kept looking at him—waiting for him to look back at you so that you could gauge his reaction. Maybe you’d see that spark of recognition in his eyes.
He just kept on looking down at his phone. Crap.
You had nothing to go on. You kept debating whether you should follow the standard social protocol of pretending you don’t know people who you actually know. You didn’t have much time; you were mere feet away from each other. You don’t want to seem rude, but you don’t want to seem—
“Hey!” You just went for it as you came face-to-face with the guy you barely know. He kind of looked up at you, confused, but didn’t say anything before you passed each other.
Yikes. Just keep walking and don’t look back, you told yourself. He must not have known who you were. It was so naive of you to think someone would know you just because you know them. You should have acted distant and detached, like every normal person does!
The situation forced you to decide between authenticity or putting on a facade. You chose the more sincere (and therefore, less cool) option, which led to an awkward situation.
You wondered whether he, upon seeing your face, went through the exact same train of thought. Wondering if you recognized him, debating if he should acknowledge you or if that would seem weird—only to decide to bury his face in his phone so as to avoid the decision altogether (illuminating the harmful and isolating effects of the dominant social norm of acting aloof which is possibly to blame for high rates of loneliness and lack of strong social connections among young people today.)
Or maybe he just didn’t recognize you. Yeah, it was probably that.