Discomfort by proxy: introverts and social networking

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I quit Facebook a couple weeks ago because I was sick and tired of the obligation it represented. It makes me wonder: can introverts become uncomfortable by proxy? Is it possible that online social networking could pose the same problems for the shy that overcrowding and over-stimulation in physical space do?

Here's the rationale: As a more introverted than extroverted person, I tend to draw my energy from being alone or with one other person, at most. I find that the energy I build up being alone gets drained when I have to deal with large amounts of social demands. A concrete example would be banking up energy by spending a day alone and then using it up by being social at a party in the evening.

Why should this work by proxy, then? When using services like Facebook, I'm physically alone. But that doesn't seem to detract from the social nature of it. In fact, it may be worse. The structure of Facebook in particular requires constant decision making. And those decisions always have social repercussions. I get a friend request from someone I don't know particularly well but went to school with: do I accept or reject? A group invitation for something I don't care about, but the group was formed by one of my friends: join or not? For people who find that making social decisions is a taxing activity, this can be overwhelming. It doesn't have any of the comfortable downtime that comes with more old fashioned modes of socializing. Instead, it's just a constant stream of demands and obligations.

So, can introverts become uncomfortable by proxy? I say yes, and to an even greater degree than in physical interactions.

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