This weekend I have been reading “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking” by Susan Cain. The book is explaining about what introverts are like, how are they different from extroverts, and how as introverts, we prefer quiet, minimally stimulating environments, enjoying small companies than large ones.
One of her main points is that we moved from an era of character to era of personality, and nowadays introversion is frowned upon. Currently we are being thought that team work and engaging with others in real life is essential part of our work life and a prerequisite of being successful. The author holds a different opinion in the matter – even though collaboration sometimes is useful, especially online, some of the most creative people that produced the most incredible innovations in art and science, had worked alone.
So while I was reading the book, I started thinking about myself. I took the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator some years ago, finding out I’m INTJ personality. I’ve also always known I am introvert – I get extremely tired if I talk with a lot of people, or when I am in a large crowd, public speaking is a nightmare for me, even though when talking on a subject that I know, I am good at it. The best way to relax and spend my time is to have a book in the evening, sometimes with a beer or a glass of wine and music. In the mornings I prefer to make my coffee, have a cigarette out in my back porch, listening to music and thinking about what I’ve read, or what I have to do during the day. When some people find it horrible to sit alone and eat – I have no problem. They rarely understand that this is by choice, and I am not lonely – I am actually constantly entertained with ideas, thoughts, books I’ve read.
And because I know my limits, I have always chosen jobs without working with too many people – I was a cook, I was working on databases, I worked as a system administrator – everything involved meeting people, but they were limited.
Currently I am working as a graduate assistant in an office in a university, while I am finishing my master’s degree. Work is good when I am sitting in my cubicle and not being too sociable. The problem comes when I have to talk with a lot of students, teachers and other members of the staff too much – it just drains me. One of my mistakes was that I could not explain to them correctly that I am introvert, so I just told them I hated talking to people and people in general. Which is far from the truth – I just don’t enjoy a lot of communication – it tires me down. I like to work on designing brochures, flyers, digital strategy (social media strategy, web site design and policy) and the database they are currently using, without engaging in a lot of conversation with people.
Many people there find it odd that I am asocial and still I am responsible for the social media part of the department. Unfortunately, I had no way of explaining how this is possible. For me it just made sense. Until I found in that book a quote from Pete Cashmore, the founder of Mashable, who states that “perhaps social media affords us the control we lack in real life socializing: the screen as a barrier between us and the world.” And I could not agree more.
As an introvert I like social media especially because it gives me limited amount of interaction with people, while taking the maximum of it. I love finding new information and knowledge, following interesting people, sharing stuff I have found online, or I have written. I prefer reading and listening online to writing, but that is mostly because sometimes I am afraid I have nothing important to say and prefer not saying anything at all.
Additionally, Internet, social media and all the tools available, give me a door to the thing I love to do the most – research. The subject of research varies according to my interests – but I am never alone in the universe of so much information.
Finally, I love social media also because it is asynchronous and I don’t need to be near other people to talk to them. I can take my time crafting the message, usually rewriting it 101 times because I am always thinking it is horrible. I don’t need to experience engaging in small talk, which is something I dread. Also it removes the awkwardness of introduction, which I generally mess up greatly in real life situations.
There was a great article in the Atlantic about introverts – “Caring for your introvert” and I highly recommend it along with the book by Susan Cain.
This blog here is something I plan to develop further about social media, social media analysis, research, strategy and policy ideas. Please join me and share your ideas about social media regardless if you are introvert or extrovert!