If you are an introvert that’s active in social media, do people that you meet find it difficult to believe that you are introverted? I get this often, so much so that I have on my Facebook page that I am “Online extrovert, offline introvert. It’s complicated.”
But for me, it’s much easier to be outgoing online, than it is offline. I think that’s why I love social media so much.
For example, one of the things that I hate is being in a room full of people where I don’t know anyone. I find it extremely difficult to introduce myself to anyone and talk to them, because I assume they don’t know me and don’t want to know me. It’s a terribly awkward situation for me, and if you’re an introvert you can probably relate.
But if I am in a group of people I don’t know on Twitter, I have little problem striking up a conversation with them. The anxiety over having to in-person introduce myself is all but removed, and as a result, it’s much easier for me to engage with people.
Here’s another example of an awkward offline situation. What if you have just met someone and are talking to them. What do you do when you reach that point where the conversation has died, and you need to politely break it off? I hate that! But again, if I’m online, then I can leave and no one really knows. So again, that awkward feeling is removed.
This is why I think it’s so easy for introverts to be extroverted online. I was talking to Liz Strauss and Kellye Crane about this at SXSW, and we all felt the same way. But the problem this creates for me is that since I *am* extroverted online, people that I meet offline expect me to be extroverted. And I’m almost always more reserved (even at SXSW), so I can give some people the wrong impression that I am ‘stuck up’, or not interested in talking to them. I’ve really tried to work on that, but it’s an issue.
What do the rest of you introverts say? Do you find it easier to communicate with people online versus offline? And if so, how do you handle meeting people offline? Do you think there’s a noticeable disconnect between how you act online, vs offline?
BONUS: My friend Lisa has a series of posts on introverts and leadership and business. Great reading!