A few weeks ago I was chatting with someone on Twitter…er…Facebook…or maybe I was texting them. Frankly, I don’t remember (this happens to me more and more all the time). Anyway, at one point in our communication, I dropped a reference to the fact that I am an introvert. Their response was, “An introvert?! YOU?!?”
I found this response to be amusing, especially considering it came from someone who I had never met in person. But I am an introvert; a classic “I” on the Myers-Briggs personality type. No, I’m not some quiet little mouse who barely makes a squeak (I mean really, have you seen me? Little mouse I most definitely am not), but given the choice between freely mingling at a cocktail reception or going up to my room and reading another chapter from “The Art of Fielding” (sooo good!) – I’m choosing the book every time. I process my thoughts internally and need to take time to decide what I think before speaking. Large group settings exhaust me. At January’s Alliance for CEHP conference, I forced myself to fight against my natural tendencies of keeping quiet during sessions, heading to my room during breaks, and generally avoiding much interaction except with those people I already know. Being that I had just been laid-off and was now at the Mecca of CME networking, I had good reason for fighting those tendencies, but even so, it was an exhausting experience.
And that’s why social media has so much appeal to me. I’m not introverted because I don’t have anything to say. I actually have quite a lot to say (insert joke here about my 2000+ tweets, 60+ blog posts, frequent Facebook updates, etc, etc). I’ve just never had a forum that I’ve felt as comfortable sharing with as I have with social media. Part of the reason is that I have always felt more comfortable expressing myself through writing than verbally. I might not feel comfortable sharing my opinion on the Sunshine Act while sitting at dinner with people I just met, but I have no problem writing about it on a blog that could be read by thousands (Hundreds? OK, tens).
Has my social media experience had an impact on my “external” social life? Absolutely. I found an avenue that fit my needs for expressing myself and through that learned that, hey, I’m not an idiot. I have reasonable opinions, other people respect them and seem reasonably interested in hearing them (I’m speaking about CME here. I’ll grant you that there is likely less interest in hearing my views on 80’s Hair Metal bands, but too bad! You’re getting them anyway!) With my confidence built in that manner, I’m now much more likely to contribute to the conversation in a small or large group setting. My in-person social engagement has most definitely increased as a result of my social engagement via social media.
So, yeah, I’m an introvert. An introvert that in a 5-hour stretch yesterday, used 15 different methods of communication to personally interact with other people: Email, text, Twitter @ reply, Twitter chat, Twitter DM, Facebook comment, Facebook message, LinkedIn message, G+, blog comments, FaceTime, AIM, phone call, conference call, and good old face-to-face. I’m an introvert, but don’t ever say I’m not social.