Introvert Thoughts: My Love-Hate Relationship with Social Media

By Doesn't say [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons
Confession: Sometimes I question why I'm on social media.

This usually happens when I'm having particularly introverted moments. Which of late, seem to be pretty often. And in those moments I silently debate with myself: Should I stop tweeting? Is blogging worth it? Who's even reading this stuff? Why do I do it? Does it help me or anyone else if I rant about tech or nerd out over some geeky gadget? What's the point?

In fact, I broke up with Facebook (more or less) in January. After staring down a stream of Upworthy-style articles and noticing a rapidly dwindling volume of real content from my friends and family, I decided to pull the plug on my Facebook activity. I still have an account because I administer a number of Facebook pages for local events (and even this blog). But the last post on my personal page instructs people to tweet, email or (gasp!) call me if they want to reach me. And I haven't missed it.

Now I'm not entirely devoid of online social contact: I do still have Twitter and my blogs*.

My Twitter use fluctuates depending on my workload and home priorities on any given week. I always found it to be a fantastic way to share information, find out what's going on, jump in and jump out for a quick dose of what-did-I-miss-during-my-meeting. There was a time when I could spend hours chatting back and forth with other people in my stream, but ultimately my default use for the platform was about information: contributing and consuming it.

And therein lies my current love-hate status with social.

I love social for the connections, the community, the pace of information, the ability to tap into the mind-hive and always find someone somewhere who seems to be sharing whatever I'm looking for. And I try actively to contribute in return: offering up stuff I am reading, sharing interesting tidbits, generating my own content to give back in proportion to what I take.

But sometimes, I wonder if it's worth it. For a short time, Twitter was actually my job: I spent my days advising government departments on How to Social. It used to be my responsibility to keep tabs on all the latest platforms and provide guidance for my clients on how they could best use each one. Now I know about them, but don't really strive to keep tabs on them. Meerkat, Periscope, Bubbly... I'm not really interested. Since I moved back to the IT world in 2012, social has been a tool I use to do my work, not the nexus of the work itself. I mean, unless they're going to help me elicit requirements to configure the enterprise system I'm working on, I'm not all that interested in spending hours every week staying up on all the latest apps and networks.

When the introvert side of my brain gets loud, it convinces me that maybe I don't need to socialize online. That maybe I can just live in my little cocoon in the suburbs and work my little day job and I don't need to be online, chatting with anyone that doesn't share my meatspace.

And then I get a notification and find that someone has shared something wonderfully funny or insightful. Or someone I haven't seen in 2 years sends me a direct message while I'm at a conference feeling a little lonely, and introduces me to the most incredible person, also having a bad day. And we commiserate together.

And I remember why I'm there.

You know, for the social part.

This little conversation keeps cycling around my brain:
To introvert or not to introvert.
To social or not to social.
 Depending on the day, either one might win.

Looks like today is a social day.


*Yes, blogS. If you weren't aware, I took all the user experience posts which seemed to be getting buried here on Spydergrrl on the Web, and moved them to a new site, The Magnificent Land of UX. If you're interested in UX, IA, Accessibility, etc., consider checking it out.]