Superficial Stereotypical Dorkiness Vs. True Social Awkwardness

This is a quick article on an observation I've made. Sometimes we meet people who come across on first impression as very stereotypically dorky. That's a vague term, but I mean things like:

When we meet people like this we can automatically assume they're socially awkward. After all, the societal image of dorky people is that they have poor social skills. For some of them the stereotype fits, but it doesn't in every case.

There's a difference between true social awkwardness and outer features that fit into the "dorky" category. In my mind real social awkwardness covers issues like:

Again, some people are stereotypically dorky, and socially awkward in the way I just described. They're nervous and inhibited, and their conversations tend peter out or go off the rails. However, some "dorky" people's core social skills are fine. They're confident with themselves and around others. They know how to keep a mutually-enjoyable interaction going. They've got a good group of friends.

Their appearance is "dorky". The content of their conversations is often "dorky". If you're not into "dorky" stuff yourself you may not want to spend a ton of time with them, but that doesn't change the fact that their underlying interpersonal skills are solid. They don't have a social weakness. They're just not to everyone's taste.

Another facet of this "Dorkiness" doesn't necessarily equal Social Awkwardness distinction is that stereotypically popular or mainstream people are often assumed to have good social skills. Once more, sometimes they do. At other times they look the part of a confident, charismatic person, but turn out to be shy, awkward, or grating once you get to know them.

Some people may argue that things like knowing how to dress and groom yourself in a broadly appealing manner are social skills too, which "dorky" people fall short on. I think fashion sense and grooming is mostly subjective. As long as you're not doing anything blatantly repellent like having bad breath or wearing stained, greasy clothes, no type of outfit or hairstyle is better or worse than another. Yes, most of society may hold the opinion that a well-fitted suit is "good" and a baggy anime T-shirt is "bad". Practically, it may be easier to reach certain social goals if you wear "good" shirts instead of "bad" ones. But in the end they're just different clothes. Watch some old TV shows or movies and you'll see outfits and hairstyles that were trendy at the time that are considered hideous now. The same goes for humor or hobbies. Just because something doesn't have mainstream social appeal doesn't mean it's inherently flawed.

So what's the point of all this?

Like I said, this article is just me sharing an observation, though here are a few small things you may take away from it:

A related question is, "What do you do if you have a trait that's not intrinsically flawed, but can be inconvenient because people look down on it?" For example, what if you know there's nothing objectively wrong with your outfits, but realize people would take you more seriously if you dressed differently? That's a call you'll have to make for yourself, after considering your goals and values. These articles should help you come to a decision:

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