The social aspects and manners that a family typically tries to inculcate in a kid has always astonished me. Welcome a guest by explicitly welcoming them and making a huge fuss about their arrival. Wish each other a good morning. Wish each other on occasions. Make it known that you are delighted at their son making it to the elite university in the US. Make it your business to know what each and every one in your immediate, extended, and even 2 circles beyond extended family does. While I agree some of these are basic manners, I was amused by the artificial charade of it all. I was the kid who would mumble an inaudible welcome and run off to my toys. I was the kid who didn’t understand why one should wish her brother a good morning when clearly they were going to make their mornings miserable for each other by fighting over who gets the bigger share of the omelette. I still am the kid who does not understand why I should make it my business to know what everyone is up to and tell everyone what I am up to.
Don’t mistake me, I am not against socialising and spending family time. But I’d rather it came naturally. Like sitting down with an uncle and talking about how I ditched a class in college to sleep. Like just patting a brother on the back and reminding him that he is getting older than wishing him a very artificial yet happy birthday. Like discovering that cousin is moving to a different country, just by chance. I like that spontaneity. This might be the case in some families, but not mine. So having been deprived of the spontaneity in the relationships that I so crave, I have become the cornucopia of social awkwardness (to quote Sheldon Cooper) when it comes to interacting with relatives.
The infinite number of WhatsApp groups that I have been added to don’t help either. The WhatsApp groups are honestly a nightmare for me. Forwards, updates every second, especially when there is a mix of generations involved. What elders don’t understand is that we would seen those forward messages (mostly fake) about 2 years ago and social media is just a junk yard where everything goes in and keeps doing the rounds. So in an attempt to avoid this junkyard, I try to avoid being pulled into groups but in vain. And that’s not the end of it. The followup questions about whether we saw a particular video that they sent. Sigh! How do I tell them without upsetting them that I have the group on eternal mute?
I don’t do this business of being a people-knowledge bank in the family either. But my dad is a veteran in this. Ask him what his great-grandmother’s granddaughter’s niece is doing, he will supply you with enough information that I doubt even she knows about herself. Having seen him hoard information about people, I seem to have run in the opposite direction very far and very fast. If someone informs me that someone else in the family is relocating, I’d probably ask where and leave it at that. Maybe a couple more questions that’d ensure I can keep in touch. That’s about it for me. But my dad would launch into an interrogation, a very successful one at that, that would put the CBI to shame.
It’s not that he just collects information like a data junkie but he uses it in suitable places. Something someone had done some umpteen years back would be described with great relish in a family function to show that he still remembers it. Me, I would just slink away from the place hoping to find a corner to take a power nap.
Surprisingly, I don’t find this an issue with friends. It comes naturally. I may not be the extrovert of the group but I am not the odd one either. I am just my natural self, talking what I have in mind, without having the obligation to remember, remind, or recollect stuff. My friends don’t hold me accountable if I don’t reply in a WhatsApp group for a while. It’s not the age factor either, I have friends older than me but still I find that comfort level with them that I don’t with my family. Weird? Maybe!
Well, I have to make some calls to update my relatives about how I am doing. Otherwise, I’d be facing a number of questions. So it’s best that I go and pull the band-aid. 😉
Until later 🙂