I’ve come across quite a few articles and blog posts lately that raise the question “Is social networking an introverted or extraverted activity?” It’s an interesting topic that I touched on briefly last year in a post called Social Networking: Introversion vs. Extraversion.
An unidentified author at oneIndia claims that social networking sites are turning extraverts into introverts, because people are increasingly using these sites to communicate with friends and family members in lieu of staying in touch by telephone. I have to disagree. For starters, extraverts don’t become introverts simply because they’ve chosen to communicate in writing (an introverted preference) rather than by telephone (an extraverted preference). They may prefer social networking because it allows them to easily communicate with many people and expand their social circle beyond those that they know offline. Actually, any credibility this author may have had was destroyed when they went on to say that people are watching less television and spending more time on social networking sites, since watching television is clearly a more introverted activity than social networking, so I won’t waste any more time on this article, which was brought to my attention by Patricia Weber, Business Sales Coach for Introverts.
Patricia responded to the article with her own post, Social Networking Tip – Social Networking Sites Cannot Make Introverts, in which she states that because social networking involves interacting with others, it is a form of extroverting. She backs this up by reminding us that introverts get their energy not from interacting with others, but from being alone.
Russell Miyaki of Social Media Today shared his own take on this subject in a recent post, Are Introverts more active in social media than Extroverts? He believes that social media may provide “the ultimate communication platform for people that are more introverted” because “they can be connected with their own world online and be by themselves at the same time.” I can say absolutely that is one of the reasons I find social networking so appealing.
Although we may be engaging in conversation, we’re doing it in writing, not face-to-face or over the phone. This gives us a chance to process what we want to say before we respond, taking hours or even days if we need it. We can even just stop the conversation and it’s unlikely anyone would even notice, due to the steady noise that’s prevalent, whether you use Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or another site. You sure can’t get away with that offline!
In my opinion, social networking is the middle ground between introverted activities and extraverted activities. It gives introverts a chance to network with others, on a business or personal level, while remaining in our own comfortable world, and it allows extraverts to stay connected with the outside world at times they would otherwise be alone.