You probably wouldn’t know it if you know me ‘online’ but I’m a huge introvert. And nerd. I’ll save that for another post though. As the 3rd and final child, only girl and complete shrimp of the family, I was often overlooked. My mom listened to my opinions, but being so outnumbered I gave up even WANTING an opinion when I was a kid. It was never going to go my way anyway, so I may as well just get on with it. I was recognized in college every single year for an award called ‘quiet leader’… I never won because only seniors won. But of course they had to nominate someone and usually it was a behind the scenes person.. me. Then my senior year rolled around and everyone forgot I was graduating so I wasn’t nominated. Yeah. I’m invisible a lot. This has continued to this day. Unless you know me fairly well, you’re probably not even going to notice me in a crowd. My kids? You will totally notice in a crowd. Me? Not so much.
Online though, it’s a whole new ballgame. I can plan out what to write. I can phrase things aloud until they sound right and then type them. I can ask my husband to read something before I send it off. I can sit and think about my opinion before posting it. I can look things up to present a good
discussion reply. No one can see my embarrassment when something inappropriate is posted. Or hear me saying ‘what a bunch of morons’ <—I do that a lot! It’s like when I worked in an office and I’d hang up the phone and just say all sorts of grumpy things under my breath–if anyone heard me, I’d have probably been fired. Multiple times. I imagine most people that have to deal with the public do the same thing, whether they admit it or not. I used to have to write down what I wanted to say when I called someone at work or I’d get completely flustered and embarrassed. I’m not sure if it would happen anymore, or not, but I literally got a pen and paper out and wrote down the question that I needed to ask or item I needed to convey. I feared sounding stupid. I feared judgement. A lot. Using social media, be it Facebook or twitter, or even just good old e-mail has made quite a difference for me. I sound confident. I feel more confident. It’s a catalyst.
For some people, this really backfires. They forget that there are humans on the other side of the computer screen. They rant and rage and say hateful things IN CAPS SO YOU KNOW THEY MEAN IT!!! They hurt feelings, take things personally, and assess payback. It’s a mean girls playground. Introverts, though, can use social media to break down barriers that one on one interviews or phone calls put up. It can be their saving grace. It’s my saving grace.
It’s a springboard to integrating into the community. With so much information online, even the worst introvert can be armed with all the information needed to avoid awkward questions from not being ‘in the know’. There’s not much worse for an introvert than being forced to make small talk for 5 minutes just to get one piece of knowledge that’s a mouse click away. Better only to have necessary conversations, in the introvert’s mind, than multiple unnecessary ones. After all, a major part of being an introvert is NOT having unnecessary discussions. Because other people are evil. Just kidding. Kind of.
Let’s face it, most people fall somewhere along the bell curve of personality. They adjust themselves to meet the situation. You’ve met those at the high end of the curve. The overtly friendly and talkative to the point of obnoxiousness–they’re fun, for all of about 5 minutes. I fall on the other end. I’d rather sit back and listen. If we’ve learned only one thing from Downton Abbey it’s that the servants always know what’s going on…and they don’t go running their mouths to the gentry. They (and I) do ‘it’s better to be seen and not heard’ all too well. If you’ve learned only two things from Downton Abbey it’s that the gentry would be nowhere without the servants. So the next time you interact online, consider the people behind your conversation. They may be as extroverted as they seem, OR, they may be the biggest introverts, just trying to break out of their shell, with social media…as their saving grace.