Jun 2, 2010  •  In Facebook, Personal, Relationships, Twitter, Web

Real Life vs Online Introversion

Many years ago, I read that being an introvert does not necessarily mean that you are shy. While it it true that many introverts are shy by nature, the main difference between introverts and extroverts is the source of their energy: extroverts get energy from people and objects outside themselves whereas introverts gain energy from within themselves.

Introverts need time to “recharge” after being around others, while extroverts thrive off outside energy.

‘Yes! That’s EXACTLY me!’ I thought as I nodded my head in agreement. I like to go out and I like to be with friends. However, I feel drained after a day of being around others, and often need time alone at home, doing introverted activities, in order to feel like myself again.

And I have found that I have become more introvert as I grow older.

J, on the other hand, is a typical extrovert. His niche is in a loud, crowded room. He needs to be around other people at all times, and when he stays indoors for extended periods of time, he gets restless, fidgety, and cranky.

I think we balance each other well in this respect. J helps me out of my shell and encourages me to try new things and interact with new people. In return, I help J stay grounded and seek solace in solitary activities.

Are you and your spouse/SO on the same spectrum when it comes to introversion vs extroversion?

How do you think it helps your relationship?

Yesterday, I read an article titled Caring for Your Online Introvert. In it, the author discusses the fact that he is an introvert in real life and an introvert online as well.

“Social media drains me like a large party might,” he writes. “I just deactivated Facebook. And I don’t @ much on Twitter. Too often it feels like the ‘fog of [an extrovert’s] 98-percent-content-free talk,’ as Rauch put it.”

The topic of real life vs online introversion struck an odd chord with me. I always considered myself an introvert, and all my friends would agree with me. After all, I am a textbook ISFP.

However, I realized that I am an online extrovert.

I love making conversation via Twitter. I am an active member of several online communities. Before I deactivated my Facebook account, I was on it all the time, consistently updating, commenting, and “liking.”

I would even go as far to say that I make friends easily online, whereas I have always had trouble making friends in the real world.

What about you?

Do you consider yourself an online introvert or extrovert?

Is it different from your real-life persona?

For an old but excellent article on introversion, see Jonathan Rauch’s Caring for Your Introvert.

And for some additional introvert-empowerment in this extrovert-dominant world, check out Introvert Power: Why Your Inner Life Is Your Hidden Strength by Laurie Helgoe.

7 Responses to “Real Life vs Online Introversion”

  1. I think my husband and I are both inclined towards introversion, but I think he is more introverted than I am. He sometimes has difficulty making small talk and in general, if we’re going to make plans to hang out with people, I am the one that has to make them. It’s funny, we were having dinner with some friends a couple of weeks ago and we discussed the fact that it is the same with most of our couple friends – the women being chattier and more ready to engage and the men hanging back and being more reserved. We came to the conclusion that that is probably a good thing because then you and your partner aren’t constantly jockeying for attention in group situations
    I think online I am a lot more extroverted than I am in real life. However I am trying to at least even things out somewhat by being more forthcoming and complimentary in my daily existence and it’s been good so far.

  2. I am an ESFP, but my E and I are very close. I like being around people but they do wear me out after a while. At the same time, if I’m home too much, I’ll go to the grocery just to be around other people. I’m pretty balanced as far as E and I.

    My husband is more of an introvert than me, but not by that much. While he is quiet and recharges his batteries by taking time to himself, he’s also an Includer (have you taken the Gallup Organization’s StrengthsFinder? It’s awesome) as well as Empathic (also StrengthsFinder). That means that if we ARE doing anything, he wants to invite people so they feel included and appreciated and not left-out.

    We balance pretty well as far as Introversion and Extroversion. At the beginning of our marriage I always wanted to be around him, and he had to finally let me know "hey, I need time to myself." That was good for me to know, since I was perfectly happy being around him and talking at all times.

    He is definitely more introverted in that you really have to spend time with him to feel like you know him, and I’m pretty easy to get to know because I’m pretty upfront about who I am and I sort of lay a lot of it on the table. That’s one of the biggest differences between us as far as introversion/extroversion. Also, I at times over-share, and he doesn’t do that. He can talk to anyone about almost anything, though, and always gives people several "first-opinions" whereas I tend to decide whether I like someone or not upon spending just a little bit of time with them.

    Online I’m definitely an extrovert. I read and comment on a lot of blogs, I have a blog, Formspring, Facebook, and Livejournal (well I’ve had that for 9 years, and don’t really use it anymore). I am a bit more reserved online because I know that family members may read it, or even potential managers, since I use my actual name instead of a pseudonym. I use a bit less profanity that I do in real life, and I talk less about ‘touchy’ subjects like sex, politics, religion, etc.

  3. Vee:

    I, like you, am an ISFP IRL (though depending on my mood, I have tested as an INFP as well). When I am around people other than my "besties" or my other half, I will actually get a headache. I have to recharge after too long, and I do that best alone! But online I feed off of interaction.

  4. I think I am an introvert all the way – online and in real life! I have written about my "shyness", quitting Facebook, and this is totally a coincidence – but I just scheduled a post for today about how I suck at Twitter. Hahaha!! My husband is like yours. He is an extrovert in real life. I just realized from your post that he gets really listless and cranky when he stays at home! I would even go as far as to say he feels ill when he’s home too long. Thank you for a very informative and interesting post! :)

  5. Jen:

    I am introverted in real life. I definitely have to have a long break after a busy, social day and hanging out with my super chatty MIL makes me want to sleep for a week. Online, I am more extroverted, and comfortable being part of the conversation. It is one of the reasons I am sort of afraid to meet online friends in real life. What if we had nothing to talk about???

    Please tell me other people have these concerns as well.

    My husband is pretty introverted too, but perhaps a little less so than I am. He understands my need to be alone sometimes, and not be around people all the time. I also detest small talk. I only want to talk about my life with someone if I feel they genuinely care, and are not just obliged to chat because of social construct.

  6. I’m an introvert as well- I’m definitely social and love meeting people and getting to know them, but too many people at once or crowds of people raise my anxiety and I crave my alone time. I think that Hubby G is an introvert as well, but not to the same extent as I am. We both enjoy staying in rather than going out though, so that works really well for us.

    I think I’m an online introvert as well, but I come much closer to the extroverted side online than I do in real life. Very interesting post! :)

  7. I’m a student and I’m in the same boat. I like being around people – I love attending classes with friends, long conversations over lunch/coffee, discussions, arguments and friendly bantering. However, at the end of the day, I need to shut myself in. I often do this in my hostel. Sometimes, I go as far as not answering my door so as to avoid talking to people! It’s a puzzle to most of my friends why I behave so differently when I’m in my room.

    I do need time alone to study and yet, when I’m in my room, I usually don’t mind chatting or tweeting or facebooking with the very same friends or more. It’s like a whole new life online!

    Why is this new "trend" becoming so popular these days?

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