America Isn’t Awkward Enough

Our Anti-Social Social Norms Keep Us From Engaging in the Uncomfortable Moments That Lead to Real Change

Ever since vaccines became available, people have been joking that the return to normal life would be awkward. After more than a year of relative isolation, so the half-earnest predictions went, we would surely find our social muscles atrophied. Even small talk or maintaining eye contact would feel like monumental achievements as we traded in our sweatpants and tentatively crawled out of our shelter-in-place hideaways.

Since becoming fully vaccinated, I have found the opposite to be true. Instead of paralyzing me with awkwardness, returning to normal social life has been …