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Social Interaction is Ridiculous

people-apple-iphone-writingI’ve long been extolling my thoughts on how ridiculous I find the rules of social interaction and no matter how hard I try I can‘t stop thinking about it. I guess it’s because I face it every day of my life and I’ve had no choice but to learn and master the rules so that I make myself known as a confident stable human being.

It’s so ridiculous though, so completely absurd. Take for instance eye contact, if you make too much, that can mean something and if you don’t make enough that can also mean something. You have to find the prefect balance and it’s only after years of practicing that I finally feel like I’m ok at it. I still mess up sometimes which makes me wonder what the other person thinks of me and then makes me guilty for doing it wrong, as if there’s a correct way of doing it.

I don’t know, I just feel like after years of living with schizophrenia I’ve had to relearn all these social cues. I don’t know what caused me to forget them other than the intense emotional weight of being told that you’re crazy, the point is though, that I’ve spent years trying to master social interaction in an attempt to be perceived as normal as humanly possible and it’s only led me to glaring conclusion that there is no normal.

I only say this because I’m in constant awe of how people conduct themselves when their social interaction isn’t perfect. It reinforces in me the fact that it’s all a ridiculous game that I’m playing and the fact that I don’t have to be perfect.

I’d be lying if I said I haven’t been hard on myself about all this stuff, probably much harder than I need to be and I don’t know why.

The simple fact of the matter that I’ve been to be inherently true is that the practice of social interaction comes most naturally, most easily when you relax.

For years I was so tense that I wasn’t doing it right and then something clicked in my head and I realized that I didn’t have to be perfect.

Social interaction is a series of cues followed by a series of actions, of course there are the go-to’s like asking questions and smiling but when it comes to the exactly correct amount of eye contact or body language like where you should put your hands or the way you should walk I had an incredible amount of trouble.

Every little interaction, even those with cashiers or gas station attendants was a practice in social interaction and I got good at it, I’d still curse myself when I didn’t get it right but I was good.

And then I realized that nobody cares anyway.

Even if you do screw up the worst they can think is that you were that weird guy who they’ll probably never see again. I just questioned why I was practicing so hard when it didn’t make any difference.

I even read books on etiquette.

It occurs to me now though, that relaxing and not caring about what other people think is the most surefire way to get good at social interaction and to make people think you’re normal.

If nothing else, just make them smile, it’s not what you said or how you said it, it’s how you made them feel.

Social Interaction is Ridiculous

Michael Hedrick

Michael Hedrick is a writer and photographer who has lived with schizophrenia since he was 20. His work has been featured in Salon, The Week, Scientific American and The New York Times. You can purchase his book 'Connections' here or Follow his blog on Living with Schizophrenia here.

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APA Reference
Hedrick, M. (2016). Social Interaction is Ridiculous. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 6, 2020, from


Last updated: 5 Mar 2016
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