Joanna Young has a great post up on Why Comments Count. In it, she says that "comments suit introverts":
I'm still thinking this one through, but I think there's something about this form of communication that suits us introverted types. It certainly suits me.
As an introvert myself, I had to agree and pointed out in a comment on her post that I think that the entire practice of blogging, as well as other online social media tools have really been a Godsend for introverts in terms of providing them with a platform for equal expression with the extroverts who seem to rule the "real world."
I've had this conversation before with Christine Martell and now with Sue Waters and it got me to thinking about whether or not our preferences for introversion or extraversion carry over into our online behavior and how we manage our social lives on the web. First, a little background.
Introversion and extraversion come from Carl Jung and, later, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. They refer to the attitudes that people use to direct their energy. Introverts direct it inward and extraverts direct energy to the outer world. From the Myers-Briggs Foundation:
I like getting my energy from active involvement in events and having a lot of different activities. I’m excited when I’m around people and I like to energize other people. I like moving into action and making things happen. I generally feel at home in the world. I often understand a problem better when I can talk out loud about it and hear what others have to say.
The following statements generally apply to me:
- I am seen as “outgoing” or as a “people person.”
- I feel comfortable in groups and like working in them.
- I have a wide range of friends and know lots of people.
- I sometimes jump too quickly into an activity and don’t allow enough time to think it over.
- Before I start a project, I sometimes forget to stop and get clear on what I want to do and why.
I like getting my energy from dealing with the ideas, pictures, memories, and reactions that are inside my head, in my inner world. I often prefer doing things alone or with one or two people I feel comfortable with. I take time to reflect so that I have a clear idea of what I’ll be doing when I decide to act. Ideas are almost solid things for me. Sometimes I like the idea of something better than the real thing.
The following statements generally apply to me:
- I am seen as “reflective” or “reserved.”
- I feel comfortable being alone and like things I can do on my own.
- I prefer to know just a few people well.
- I sometimes spend too much time reflecting and don’t move into action quickly enough.
- I sometimes forget to check with the outside world to see if my ideas really fit the experience.
- I prefer online interactions to face-to-face in many instances, particularly if I'm trying to develop an idea or need some time to respond to what someone else has said. I find that in the real world, (which in the US is dominated by extraverts) I can barely hear myself think because the air is filled with the voices of extraverts, who must think out loud. But online, I have time to really hear my own thoughts and respond thoughtfully to what other people are saying. I've come to prefer it for most thoughtful conversation.
- I have a harder time "visiting" other people and "talking" at their places, then I do having people visit me here and responding to their comments. I have to remind myself that I can't just stay at home on my blog and respond to things here--that it's good for me to get out once in a while and talk to people at their blogs.
- Even online, I still tend to spend a lot of time "alone." I'm more interested in blogging, less interested in Twitter, which to me seems like an extravert's online dream. If you're an extravert, who wouldn't want to know what 500 other people are doing right now, getting a constant stream of "chatter" coming into you? On Facebook, I have about 70 "friends," unlike others who seem to have hundreds. I don't know if they're extraverts or not, but I'm suspecting that the more extraverted you are, the larger your friend network. And I don't even use Facebook that much, or any of the other social networks, preferring to interact one-on-one with people (another introverted tendency), rather than wall-to-wall, which I'm guessing is an extraverted invention. Again, why wouldn't you want the world to know everything you're doing and saying?
I'm sure there's more here--these are just some of my preliminary thoughts as I'm mostly interested in starting to open a dialogue about this with people to see what they observe about themselves.
If you're an extravert, do you find that your online behavior is more in line with your extraverted nature? And if you're an introvert, do your introverted tendencies play out online, too? Also, I'm wondering if you think that there are more introverts or extraverts online? Could it be that social media adoption is being driven by introverted types who finally see for themselves a social outlet that lets them be heard, too? Let me know in comments what you think--I'm curious about this.