By MOLLY SULLIVAN
I was sitting at a computer in the library this past week when a boy I know fairly well sat down at the computer next to me. When I say I know him fairly well I mean that we have been to each other’s houses and have had many conversations. I could recognize him in my peripheral vision, but he seemed not to notice me, so I opted not to say hello. It seemed as though he did the same, because neither of us acknowledged the other during the hour we were seated side by side in the library.
Odd as it may seem to any outsider to the UMW community, I find this library incident unremarkable. I experience this sort of situation multiple times each week, which has led me to wonder: why do students intentionally ignore each other when in the presence of an acquaintance? Oftentimes, I pretend as though I do not see my acquaintances because I’m fearful that I will appear obnoxious or even fake if I address them, which is irrational, but a fear that it seems I am not alone in having.
In this awkward situation at the library, I tried multiple times to catch his eye to say hello, not wanting to appear aloof. I assumed there was no way he could avoid noticing that I was sitting next to him. Perhaps I was wrong to assume this, but regardless we sat next to each other and acted like complete strangers.
Going to this school is like living in a small town, everyone knows everyone else. With a student body of approximately 4,000, two people are never more than a degree or two separated from one another. I find the small, close-knit feel of this campus to be a great asset. Having come to UMW as a transfer student I was randomly thrown into an apartment with two older girls, and this connectedness made my transition to a new school much less overwhelming.
In other cases, I’m unsure of whether an acquaintance remembers me (seeing that many of my acquaintances are made during wild Saturday night throw downs) so I do not want to make them feel uncomfortable by saying hello. Also, I often like the reasoning behind this relates to seeming “cool.” “Cool” people lead busy lives of socialization, and subsequently have no time to remember insignificant names and faces. Although trivial, there seems to be an interesting process leading up to the choice to say hello—or in this case, not to say hello.
I think I can speak for us all when I say that everyone appreciates a friendly greeting. I am particularly flattered when someone I hardly know remembers my name and seems happy to see me on Campus Walk. Having reflected on this inconsequential library incident, I have resolved to make more of an effort to be warm and outgoing to all the people I know—regardless of whether we are close, or mere weekend acquaintances.