Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Digital Self Assessment

I realized something the other day: my online presence and social interaction is surprisingly similar to my presence and social interaction at a big party.

When I go to a big party, I tend to do one of two things: latch on to someone I know the whole time, or meander endlessly until the party is over. I'm very much an introvert. Now to clarify a little: introversion is not shyness! Shyness stems from a lack of self confidence and/or self esteem; introversion, on the other hand, has to do with how your body and mind recuperate and spend energy. Introverts gain energy best through quiet or solitary activities; extroverts, on the other hand, gain energy through social interaction: the more the merrier!

On the other hand, introverts tend to lose energy very quickly in large social settings. We tend to be the quiet ones, the ones who stay out of the fray as much as possible. There's a simple reason for it: the hustle, bustle and din of social settings exhaust us! That's not to say that we can't or shouldn't participate, we just have to take periodic breaks, retreating to a quieter locale for a few minutes to recharge our batteries.

And extroverts, if you haven't guessed, lose energy in quiet, solitary activities. They fall asleep when they read books or watch movies; they (generally) prefer hobbies that involve other people (like team sports, etc.). These are the people who thrive in a crowd. They tend to pester us introverts to accompany them to a party or something like that because they're bored staying at home. :)

Now that I've rambled on for a while, I've noticed that I tend to interact online in much the same way that I interact in large social settings. I read a lot of blogs, but I don't comment on every post. In fact, I don't comment on very many, especially when there're already a bunch of comments. However, I am more likely than others to send the blogger in question a quick email to share my opinion. If I've done this to you and it bothered you, I'm sorry; to me it feels more personal and I wanted to make sure your read my note. (when I see a long list of comments on a post, I always think the blogger will have stopped reading comments by that time.)

I've found that being a consistent blogger is a real challenge for me. I don't have a long-term plan for how my blog is going to run; I don't plan my posts before hand (other than to try to find an interviewee). You will, undoubtedly, have noticed that my own posts (not counting guest bloggers and interviews) are rather sporadic. That's because I often don't have something worthwhile on my mind. But I think you'll also appreciate that the posts I do write, with a very few capricious exceptions, are very important topics to me that I really want to talk about. And I really appreciate the comments that so many of you leave. They totally make my day!

So, through my meandering train of thought, we come down to this: I know I'm a bit eccentric in my blogging habits, and I really appreciate all of you who read and comment on this blog. I hope you enjoy talking with me too. I really do enjoy being a small part of this little community.

So, what's your digital social bent? Introvert or extrovert?

OH! I almost forgot! If you want to learn more about introversion, I recommend The Introvert Advantage, by Marti Olsen Laney. This book taught me more about myself than I ever thought possible!


  1. I'm more introverted in real life. I prefer keeping to myself and engaging in solitary activities or one-on-ones with friends. (Which is weird because all my jobs tend to be extrovert jobs).

    I think I'm more comfortable being extroverted online, because the path from my brain to my fingers is much more immediate and dependable than the one to my mouth. Though, there are plenty of bloggers far more extroverted than I.

    Do you find that you try to assign yourself tasks at parties? If I can narrow my focus in on one or two things, it's much easier to make it through. One of my friends had a painting party with wine, cheese, and canvases. Everyone interacted with each other, but our main focus was on a typically introverted activity. Best party ever.

  2. i'm definitely an introvert in real life. i prefer being alone. i think most writers do. however, online, i seem to be a tad more extroverted. i do try to have conversations on social media, but i very rarely comment on blogs unless i have something profound to say. ;)

    i find Sarah's comment about assigning yourself tasks funny. i do that. at my best friend's baby shower, i was the one to help with all the set up and games, even though i wasn't the one throwing the shower. other than things like that, i avoid large groups of people.

  3. Oh, I totally do that! I'm usually the one collecting neglected cups and plates or making sure there are plenty of snacks available. If I keep myself busy with something like that, I find I can keep going longer than if I'm trying to actively engage the whole time. Don't get me wrong, I make sure I force myself to engage in small spurts (it would just be rude otherwise), but I break it up by being helpful to the host/hostess.

  4. I'm introverted in person, but I find that online, I "talk" a lot more than I usually do. I still have introverted tendencies, though--I don't say much at all in chats and while I enjoy commenting, I'm content to just read sometimes.

  5. Really interesting points! I tend to take a similar approach when I'm reading through blogs.

  6. Oh my. I never know what I'll learn when I swing by here. This is so going to be my new passion. I'll be classing everyone I meet into one of these categories.

    But! Is it that simple? Can one slip into another category? When in a room full of Introverts does one turn into an Extrovert (LOL!) or do they all just waltz around trying to adjust? How many Extroverts are needed to balance the social atmosphere?

    Hmmm. I'm going to be hunting down that book I think. You've got me very curious on this social behavior.

    I do know that most days, I am an Introvert. I prefer one on one; it gets fun results. If it weren't for the Extroverts in my life, I would do nothing but read and write, with a little one on one on the side. On the flip side, I can be very social when I apply myself. Now I know why it's so draining though.

    Thanks for the interesting post, Reece.

  7. Interesting thoughts, Reece! I've never thought of blogging in terms of introversion and extroversion, but it makes a lot of sense! I enjoy your blog, and you have to write it in the way that works for you. As for commenting, again, you do what works for you! I think a personal email/note is a fine way to contact a blogger.

    I don't know if I'm an intro or extro. I enjoy social situations, and tend to be a mingler. But I also find a lot of joy in quiet, solitary activities. Maybe I'm a little of both? I lose energy a lot more quickly in social situations than in solitary ones, so maybe I'm heavier on the introvert side. :)

  8. I've always thought of myself as an introvert in life but, reading this, I realise that actually I'm just shy. I 'talk' to a lot of people online, and I love it because I can be myself without worrying, (too much), that I'm blushing or making an idiot of myself.

  9. I think I'm a bit of both--I do have to push myself to actually answer blog posts. I love to read and write, but yet I often feel the need to get out of the house.

    Your fire walking novel sounds intriguing.

  10. My digital self is a bit more active and excited about things than the everyday-me. I like to go to blogs and comment as often as i can, which isn't very often nowadays.

    I agree that I, too, go to social gatherings and make myself do something so that I don't hold the wall up the entire time.

    One exception. The last writer's conference I went to, I think I was on a writer's high. I spent most of the time smiling, grinning from ear to ear and walking up to people, passing out my business card and getting them. I have no idea if I will be able to repeat that feat. But it did drain the daylights out of me. Each evening I went to bed exhausted like I'd run a marathon or something.

    By the way, any e-mails you've sent, I hope my responses expressed either giddiness, silliness or joy...but definitely nothing to apologize for.

  11. Reece, you are just fine with your blogging habits. YOu always just have to do what's best for you.

    I've never thought about being an introverted or exrtoverted blogger. I'm kind of both in real life though, so maybe I'm both in the blogging world.