I think we’ve been experiencing this weird new thing over the last few years, which is an increase in introverted behaviour. The thing is, I’m not sure that all of these people are really introverts.
In the past, to have contact with people we’ve had to leave the house and actually go and see them. The only way to have contact with another person was to call them on the phone, or actually go and meet up with them. That is no longer true.
I’ve noticed a rise online over the last few years in celebrating introvertedness. Now don’t get me wrong, being an introvert is wonderful and good, and it’s great to celebrate it, it’s just that I don’t think a lot of people identifying with the memes about staying home and binge watching TV are actually introverts.
The ability to connect in so many and varied ways with people online means that extroverts don’t always have to leave the house in order to make a social connection. Me writing this blog is, in a way, extroverted behaviour. I’m writing with the purpose of communicating to a wider audience and I’m expecting interaction with others as a result, even if it’s not in person. It may not meet all my needs as an extrovert, but it certainly helps me connect with people. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, Tumblr, Blogs, all of these things are essentially extroverted behaviours without face to face contact; they all require interaction with other people.
I notice that introverts are often the least likely to be constantly online, which drives me to think that online addiction is usually a trait of the extrovert. Now of course there are exceptions to every general social conclusion you can make, but this pattern seems to fit when I think about the people that I know. I’m interested to hear what you think and what your experiences are.
I’m also aware of the social anxiety issue, but that’s a completely separate topic.
I love that the internet has given introverts a way to interact with others on their own terms, and has taken away some of the social anxiety associated with being with lots of people. That’s a great thing. The movement I’m talking about is extroverts masquerading as introverts.
I’m not sure that people even realise they’re doing it. I suspect that because they’re getting a dose of connection, the extrovert thinks they like being alone at home. Is that really true? Would you still like being alone at home if you couldn’t interact with others on your laptop or your phone? I know I sure wouldn’t! At least most of the time. There are times when I like my space, but as an extrovert, I usually prefer the company of others.
Side note: Since moving overseas I have become more introverted, and this article perfectly explains why. That piece was very helpful for me in realising what was happening to my desire for social interaction. I suspect I’m still suffering from that a little now. I’m sure it’ll all even itself out eventually, but the need to withdraw is still a part of my life at the moment.
Take note of all the introverted memes you see (especially on Facebook) and think about it. I honestly think it’s a really interesting movement. I’m not saying it’s good or bad, I think it’s pretty neutral as a movement, but I do worry that it could have negative consequences.
I hope we aren’t pushed further into our homes and our bedrooms, locked away from each other and our families. I hope we continue to get our social fixes from people face to face as much as possible, and don’t neglect our physical relationships for ones on a screen. I say this as someone who spends a lot of time on the internet. A screen is not a replacement for a person. Let’s make sure we respect people’s introvert/extrovert preferences, but still spend time connecting in person.