Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Why introverts love Facebook



Today is World Introvert Day, something I didn't learn until quite late in the day. Too late to throw a big party or anything like that, but not too late to share it on Facebook. I posted a link to www.introvertday.org, which garnered some amusing feedback from other introverts. 

My best friend Lulu (who shared the link with me) said she wished she could have celebrated World Introvert Day by spending it under her desk.

Belinda said, “We could have had a party and then found excuses not to go.”

Peggy said that explained why she hadn't wanted to do anything but curl up on the couch with a book today.

Burns asked if I had read Susan Cain's book Quiet (I have), prompting a discussion about the book's premise that most of the world is geared toward extroverts, and about some of the ways introverts have found to cope (like the college professor who retreats to the same stall in the men's bathroom for some much-needed alone time after each lecture).

I resurrected and posted a Dilbert cartoon from a few years ago:


Lulu remarked that World Introvert Day “is more an 'Understand Your Introvert' movement, but introverts already understand each other and extroverts just think we're no fun.”

I'll admit it: I love Facebook.

Facebook may have stolen my privacy, my self-respect, and more precious hours of my time than I care to contemplate, but it has given me something in return: a way to be connected to other like-minded human beings that doesn't require me to actually Go Among the People.

I don't need to go to parties and have seventeen stilted and pointless conversations before accidentally discovering that someone shares my point of view about something. All I need to do is post a photo of turkeys made from Oreos and malted milk balls, or my adorable cats (let's just admit that they're the cutest cats in the world, OK?), or a link to EqualityMaine or The Daily Show, and I discover, almost instantly, who among my acquaintances shares my passion for “Fun With Food,” or cute cats, or leftist causes.

Facebook has allowed me to become a member of not one but several on-line communities of writers, to chat with other people who believe Kris Kristofferson is the greatest American singer-songwriter ever (and not just that old guy who plays Whistler in the Blade movies), to learn more about local history directly from people who have lived some of it than I ever would have gleaned if I'd had to do the research myself.

These people are my “friends.” Yes, Facebook tosses that term around rather lightly, especially to someone like me who has mostly subscribed to Henry Brooks Adams' theory that “One friend in a lifetime is much; two are many; three are hardly possible.”

I have one hundred and seventy-two Facebook friends. I rarely, if ever, have exchanges with most of them. But others—some of them people I've never met, others people I've known “in person” for years but with whom I'd never really had a meaningful conversation—have revealed themselves, through the magic of Facebook, to be perceptive, funny, intelligent deep thinkers.

Many of them are introverts, like me. If we met at the post office, our conversation would most likely be limited to observations about the weather, or to inquiring about each other's kids. If we felt we knew each other well enough, one of us might bring up the Red Sox, but that's about as deep as it would go.

On Facebook, though, we've engaged in earnest discussions of politics, gun control, same-sex marriage, cute pets, and how to make a snowman out of cheese balls. And introversion.

I've found that many introverts love Facebook, for the same reasons I do.

Extroverts use Facebook to reconnect with old friends, and they post things like, “I’ll be back in town next weekend. Let's get together!” or “I miss your face—haven't seen you in too long! Gotta fix that!” 

Introverts, on the other hand, like Facebook because it gives us our “people fix” without requiring us to actually be around people.


By the way, extroverts will tell you that this is unhealthy and everyone should “get out more.” Ignore them. They don't get us. They also don’t get where they’d be without us.

“And let's not forget,” says the website for World Introvert Day, “that although introverts might be a minority, they are a majority in the gifted population. Most famous scientists, philosophers, artists and thinkers are introverted. Introverts shape the world we live in.”

No, let's not forget that.


(I should add that texting, along with Facebook, is an absolute godsend for introverts. Not only do we now not need to actually see people to communicate with them, we don't even have to talk to them on the phone. This is another thing extroverts don't get. Text an extrovert more than once or twice in a row, and your phone will probably ring and you'll hear, “I figured I might as well just call.” No, wrong. Don't be offended, but if I wanted to talk to you, I wouldn't be texting.)

2 comments:

  1. Amen (except the text thing, but then again my kids are teens and WON'T talk on the phone and I miss that).

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    1. Agreed...I make an exception for my kids because I do enjoy talking to them. Thanks for reading!

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