Saturday, August 4, 2018

Social Interaction by Christine DePetrillo

So it’s August already. Sigh. Summer is slipping away so swiftly.

I’ve re-watched the Twilight Saga, binged on new Netflix shows, read my way deep into J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood world, and fallen into the go-to-bed-at-1:00 AM-and-get-up-at-9:00 AM schedule that appears to be what my body will do naturally if given the chance. This is all characteristic of my typical summer leisure experience, but one thing I’m trying to change up is the social interaction.

An introvert since birth, I tend to prefer staying at home instead of going out into the world. When my parents would say, “Go to your room,” I’d skip down the hallway, happy to hide away in my safe haven. I loved being in my room and never saw it as a punishment. If my parents had told me to go talk to people instead, I would have felt far more inconvenienced.

Let’s face it – it’s scary “out there.” Social events also require getting ready. Doing one’s hair. Putting on makeup. Wearing clothes. Ugh. So much work. Chilling in the backyard requires none of these things.

Well, except wearing clothes. Probably.

I’m trying this summer, however, to push myself to interact with more people. I recently saw something online that said social interaction was the number one thing that led people to live longer. Even more than diet and exercise! Needless to say, when I saw that, I panicked. According to that study, I’m going to kick the bucket like… tomorrow!

I also listened to a show on the radio where it was stated that talking to people for as little as ten minutes a day boosted memory. The DNA in my family suggests that boosting one’s memory is definitely something I want to be doing. I felt compelled to call someone up and chat on the spot. (Of course calling people on the phone is an entirely different phobia I’m not ready to deal with at the moment.)

So, yeah… social interaction. I’m trying. It’s kind of exhausting though. The orchestrating schedules. The planning what to do/where to go. The gathering of stimulating conversation topics.

The relinquishing of time with my fictional characters to see real people…

I have to remember, however, that each social interaction has its benefits. Living longer. Boosted memory. And my favorite, story ideas. The more people I spend time with, the more tidbits I pick up and add to my writing notebook. Setting, plot, and character ideas have come to me as I surround myself with different people. I’m amassing quite a collection of words, one-liners, and character traits just by hanging out with my fellow humans.

Hopefully, by the time the summer is over, I’ll have filled my notebook and have reaped the benefits of getting social. If not, I’ll just go back to having full conversations with my dog at home. That has to have benefits too, right?

What tips do you have for me about social interaction?



remullins said...

Do social interactions with 2 dogs and 2 kittens count? As caretaker for my mother, I talk to her daily. As for friends or other family, my interactions come in concentrated doses when they visit or I go to see one of them. So, I don't know how I stack up on the longevity scale.

Jannine Gallant said...

If it wasn't for work (where I'm forced to engage in brief, polite chit-chat with boaters), I'd never talk to anyone outside the family. Since the girls left the nest, all those mandatory school social situations went with them. However, there's still the grocery story where I invariably see people I know, and we catch up over a stack of produce. It's social interaction without any planning. Perfect for author introverts! My advice, Chris... Go to the store to get your shot of memory booster, add a couple years back onto your life, and observe odd human behavior. LOL

Leah St. James said...

Does the study address the effects of negative social interaction? I get that pretty much from 8:30 a.m. to about 6 p.m., Monday through Friday, January through December at my "day job." To be fair, it's not all negative (I love my co-workers!), but I answer three phone lines (include the top executive's line and the newsroom "tip" line). I can assure you that not many people call to give compliments. By the time I run to my car at the end of the day, I'm done with my fellow humans (except for my family) until I have to face them again the next morning. Anyway, glad you're enjoying your summer and getting some down time!

Christine DePetrillo said...

RE - I used to think interactions with animals counted (believe me, I prefer animals to humans on most (all) occasions), but I think those "conversations" offer different benefits. Like lowering stress levels because the animals can't talk back with words that hurt so it's a win-win chat every time. I know I'm not going to stop talking to my furry friends.

Jannine - Go to the store? Did I mention how much I hate grocery shopping? Ugh, combining social interaction AND shopping is like an invitation to Dante's Ninth Circle. LOL.

Leah - Negative social interaction is what turned me off in the first place. It can be really hard to "undo" those effects. It's good to have those safe havens though like home.

Brenda Whiteside said...

Christine, I don't share your fears and/or being an introvert. I've always been quite the opposite. But I thoroughly enjoyed your blog and your ability to entertain us at your expense. I'm quite happy to keep myself company. I don't need much social interaction. If it wasn't for FDW, I might not get "social" as much as I do. But I have found the more I cloister away, the less I want to socialize. Since I realized this, I'm trying to do a few things now and then so I don't lose the knack.

Margo Hoornstra said...

After so many years working in an environment where suits and panty hose were the norm, i’m not a fan of dress up social occasions. Give me casual any day. Clothes, conversations. Campfires. Family, friends and co-workers are my usual conversational fare. Lately, i’ve had quite a few stimulating dialogues with my granddaughter. She’s eight, you know. Going on thirty-five.

Rolynn Anderson said...

Extrovert here. Know that we get tired of being 'on' all the time...people expect that of us. People are dying to talk about themselves, so asking questions about their lives is the easiest way to go the low-stress route. I prefer subject/object-oriented social interactions...around golf, writing, gardening, etc. Those friendships are the most fun and natural. I'd say, join a group sharing a common interest. A fun way to 'get out there.'

Diane Burton said...

I feel like an introvert but act like an extrovert. Weird, huh? I love talking to my grandchildren, even the 9-month-old twins. They smile and babble in return. So much interaction. Rolynn is right about asking people questions. Great conversation starters. I did a book event yesterday. Nothing like sitting there waiting for people to buy your book(s). I smile, say hi, ask about the weather (it was beastly hot), ask what they like to read. Anything to keep them from passing by my table.

Brenda Jackels said...

I agree with you about social interactions. I have a fairly firm rule for myself that I'm not allowed to turn down invitations. Obviously if I already another social interaction planned for the same time, I have to turn down the new invitation. But having an evening planned at home by myself does not count as "already having plans". :D

I did recently have to turn down an invitation even though I had no other plans. I was invited to go fishing and beach walking and paddleboarding, but I was on medication that required that I stay out of the sun. I was actually kinda bummed about having to take a pass on that one. I am not by any means an outdoor person, but I enjoy spending time with the inviter, and the activities would have been fun, too.