To observe myself or others masking (a felt) awkwardness.
A lot of this has to do with rhythm and pacing; with temporally/dynamically adhering to established scripts so that we won’t get out of character/line and lose face . When I enter a space already occupied by others, like rushing into a closed store’s door or stepping into the street after a period of withdrawal or into a restaurant or belatedly into a meeting, I become very self-conscious of myself and my movements: with the others already a-rolling in a particular groove that I am just hopping right into/out of. The other day, for instance, I was walking down the aisle of a carriage of a train and when I asked someone if there was a free seat in the booth (to which the answer was affirmative of course) I found myself being carried by a slightly overwhelming momentum even after I have sat down. I was shifting frames. A sense of awkwardness derives basically from this. As if dampening or buffering and balancing somehow the tempo-difference I was fumbling and fidgeting about a bit, adjusting myself and looking around, checking things, feigning nonchalance – aware of the relative motionlessness of the other person who have already settled into his sitting and has already assumed the role of the earnest traveller. This is very similar to the dynamics of conversations where we say certain phrases and cliches or make specific nonverbal signs only for the sake of keeping the imperceptible but arresting beat of the interaction (undisturbed). We say and do things in such communicative instances only to keep the pace smooth enough and the expectations and the level of interest unexhausted, the engagement sufficiently poised. The temporal adjustment we attempt in these situations is conspicuous yet unacknowledged, and in a way amusing in my opinion.