Introverts and social media: It’s all about vibes
On the first listen, the phrase “introverts love social media” sounds almost moronic. Introverts? Those people who grow anxious at the site of a networking event invitation? The ones who avoid the mall on Black Friday like the viral plague? The people who wake in cold sweats from nightmares about strobe lights, club beats and shouted conversations? They love social media?
Yes, they do. I do. At first, I wondered if the “offline introvert, online extrovert” phenomenon resulted from thinking that “online” defined something different from real life.
But then I realized: online life removes one major offline roadblock that often deters introverts from truly opening up:
We act a little differently online than we do in person because:
Introverts tend to be very sensitive to other people’s body language, moods and tones. Someone having a crappy day can throw me off for a good hour…sometimes until I go to bed. Introverts pick up on other people’s energies very easily, so something as simple as a misplaced eye roll or a squarely folded pair of arms can put us in a funk.
Introverts tend to study people intensely. While they chat away, we size people up, making keen observations about their appearance and mannerisms. This can deplete our already limited energy reserves very quickly.
Humans give off an array of chemicals, hormones and feelings. Again, these stimuli hit introverts much more intensely, so we tend to experience sensory overload, and shut down.
But online, human vibes are filtered by text, images and emoticons. That’s why many people often misinterpret e-mails and text messages. You don’t get the full dose of all that invisible stuff typically oozing from people when you meet in person. So, there’s more energy to go around: lots of chatting, information-sharing, photo-taking and video editing. AND, you can always turn the volume down. Hooray!
Let’s be real, though. People who lead lives like the grandparents from Charlie And The Chocolate Factory (Grandpa Joe being the exception, of course) will likely not do well in social media careers. Just because introverts may prefer staying at home with a good book to going on a bender, that doesn’t mean they don’t routinely interact well with others — online or otherwise.
So, what do you think? If you’re an introvert (or even if you’re not), why do you love social media?