So here’s the deal. You’re in the middle of your Contending Theoretical Perspectives class and your tutor starts talking about Communitarianism. Your gazes lock. You panic. You didn’t do your readings. Suddenly, you feel a tingling sensation spread throughout your neck, then your palms. You begin to sweat, your pupils dilate and then, before you know it, your head is slowly moving upwards and downwards while a serene smile spreads across your face.
You pause. ‘Did I go too far?’ ‘Was the smile too fake?’ Your tutor continues his speech. You decide to switch things up a bit and furrow your brow. Your face reads ‘Hmmm, interesting,’ while your mind asks ‘LOL what?’ Your tutor smiles before shifting his gaze to another unsuspecting student. It’s over in a flash. You pause once more, realising what you’ve done. You’ve successfully executed an awkward nod. You’ve beaten the system, you coy bastard, you. You exhale and mentally pat yourself on the back, then freeze as your tutor reminds the class the Communitarianism test begins in five minutes.
Short term gains aside, the awkward nod is a double-edged sword. It’s a game where no one wins; a long walk off a short jetty, a deal with the devil. The nod can, temporarily, feign understanding, compassion or even acceptance. But in the end, you’re doomed. For such a disastrous social action, it’s surprising to find the majority of society has experienced the awkward nod.
Perhaps you do it. Perhaps your significant other does it. Perhaps your pet does it. The origins of the awkward nod are still being debated, however many experts (my friends included) agree it stems from fear. Fear of not getting what one wants, fear of not understanding, fear of social situations, or fear of embarrassing oneself. Common places to view the awkward nod in action are university classes, first dates, retirement villages, beauty pageants, and therapy sessions. For your convenience, here are a few common awkward nods to look out for:
The ‘I don’t really get it, but I kind of get the general gist of what you’re saying’ nod.
This nod usually stems from an innocent misunderstanding or a simple lack of clarity. It’s easily the most common of the nods and consequently the simplest to execute. While your nonsensical speaker is speaking their nonsense, wait for a pause, or even better, a moment of eye contact. Then simply nod your head two times in succession, ensuring that your movements are succinct, yet subtle. For maximum effectiveness, pair the nod with a furrowed brow or, even better, a squint of understanding.
The ‘I’m sorry, I wasn’t listening because I don’t really like you’ nod.
This nod does two things. It shares the initial purpose of the previous nod while also giving off an unmistakable ‘fuck you’ vibe. Avoid using this nod on a whim, as a run in with a nod of this variety could lead to lifelong grudges, family breakdown, death threats and/or assassination attempts.
To execute, wait until the speaker is just about to reach the climax of their ill-conceived banter, then begin moving your head backwards and forwards in a fluid, calculated and incredibly drawn out fashion. Make sure you use your neck’s full axis of movement. For maximum effectiveness, lock eyes with your speaker and grin manically.
The ‘Yeah no idea buddy’ nod.
You don’t know and, quite frankly, you don’t care. You’re never gonna see this guy again anyway, so why the hell does it matter? This nod is the most creative and artistically beautiful of the nod family. Don’t know what to do? Who cares? The ‘yeah no idea buddy’ nod can take any form your heart desires. Feeling angry? Shake your head violently while frowning. Feeling calm? Stare into the speaker’s soul while bobbing your head from side to side, eventually lulling off to sleep. It’s a free country, do whatever the hell you want.
There is no denying that the mystical and magical world of nodding is a vast and endless sea, yet due to an annoying concept called ‘word limits’, our journey must draw to a close. If in your travels you encounter an awkward nod that captures your attention, please do not hesitate to share it with us (and our readers) at www.unilifemagazine.com.au.
So till next time, keep your neck muscles taut, your anxiety levels high, and if all else fails…keep on nodding.