Mashable CEO Pete Cashmore recently outed himself as an introvert. The news was somewhat surprising given that Pete socializes extensively both online and off. I know, I have proof. That's me pictured below with Pete in the crappy cell phone picture at BlogHer '08 after @QueenofSpain kidnapped him off the streets of San Francisco when we randomly passed him by. Pete was glued to his smart phone all night but nonetheless hung out for hours with a motley crew of mostly strangers and even shook his hips a couple of times along with the belly dancer who entertained us at dinner. I suspect like me though he went home and slept deeply in order to recharge.
Introverts conjure up images of anti-social hermits. Yet some of the biggest users of social media consider themselves introverts. Pete's confession was prompted by an exchange he saw on twitter between Suebob and Guy Kawasaki. Guy wrote:
@suebob You may find this hard to believe, but I am an introvert. I have a "role" to play, but I fundamentally am a loner.
At the time Guy's avatar featured him wearing a pink boa from, I believe, the large party he threw at his house with Kirtsy before BlogHer. Again, Guy Kawasaki an introvert? Does not compute.
However, as I write this, 646 people have voted in the Mashable poll and 57% identified themselves as introverts. A mere 15% picked extrovert and most of the rest chose "both."
But, as Pete points out in his post:
And yet, social media pushes us further and further towards openness: from constant updates of your location to live video streaming to instant photo uploads. How, then, do we consolidate the assumed introversion of the early adopter with this tidal wave of online media sharing?
I'm trying to figure out an answer to that question myself. I follow 650+ people on twitter so that apparently makes me a power user. However, in my quest to push myself to get out of the house and socialize more IRL, I went to the SF Mashable party and quickly fled as it was crowded, packed with strangers and I felt all the energy being sapped right out of me.
I think the answer lies somewhere in the ability of social media to allow introverts to be social while home alone safely ensconced behind our keyboards. But none of us can live without human contact lest we devolve into the unabomber. So where's the balance?
Do you have any thoughts or answers for Pete's question or mine? Does social media help you "overcome" your introversion or make you feel "forced" to be more social?
A sampling of blogging introverts:
New Kid on the Hallway laments:
I think orientation actually stresses me out more than classes starting, because so much of orientation is social - tomorrow we have a two-hour lunch in which to get to know each other, a bunch of other socializing-type breaks, and I signed up to go to a Fun Social Event in the evening (though I am allowing myself to consider ditching it if by that time I'm feeling completely wiped from being around strangers all day)
mcecchin at Perfectly Turbulent is keeping his inner introvert at bay by taking improv lessons at Second City:
Social interactions don’t come along easily for everyone. For me, I think I straddle the fence between extrovert and introvert. I love large gatherings and social functions, but sometimes find myself experiencing strong urges to crawl back into my cave in utter silence.
Lisa Barone wrote The Introvert's Guide To Conference Networking - bookmark this one for the next BlogHer gathering.
Head over to She Walks Softly to see the Introvert Sweater.
Dorthea at Alaskan Girl shares her Confessions of a Single Introvert
I like being alone. It allows me to get my bearings and center myself, recharge my batteries, and truly relax. But I also love being with friends and around people. It's a delicate balance.
Meghan Wier at Ramblings of An Insomniac: Diary of a Sleepless Introvert has tips for introverted socializing:
My next idea is Craigslist. There is a section for "platonic" relationships and I have looked at this a few times. Now, a word of warning: like all "online meeting" be careful. There are definitely people who will misrepresent themselves. But I met one of my very good friends here in Charlotte on Craigslist.
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