I am an introvert. That said, go away. I wish to be left alone.
No, I didn’t mean it! Please come back!
Dash it, I didn’t mean to drive away my readers. Well, for those of you who haven’t left, I’ll admit being introverted isn’t a bad thing. Jesus Christ was an introvert. I scoff at the idea that introverts are broken extroverts. Some people simply enjoy being alone, and I’m one of them.
However, as an introvert, I often struggle to connect with people in a meaningful way. Sure, I’m amiable and polite. I get along just fine with coworkers and churchgoers and people at Wal-Mart. That’s not the problem at all.
The problem is that I don’t really know them.
It takes effort to get to know someone. Introverts don’t always enjoy getting to know people, so why make an effort? It’s much easier to be respectful and friendly, and then to go home to a cup of tea and a good book. This is a fine plan in the short term. In the long term, it leads to a life full of tea, packed with books and bereft of friends.
Making friends is hard, especially after high school and college. When something is hard, people generally feel disinclined to attempt it. For introverts, getting to know people is particularly exhausting.
This is why Facebook and other social media are so attractive to introverts. They require only brief visits and very little commitment. Facebook is convenient. It’s also shallow. Social media can enable deep discussions, but it’s mostly inundated with jokes and memes and rants and snippets of personal news. When I use social media, I feel like I’m standing in a crowd. I hear a little bit of everything from everyone, but meaningful conversations are difficult.
Facebook makes me feel connected because it gives me glimpses into the lives of people I love. I like a post here, leave a comment there and feel I’ve done my duty as a loyal friend. No need for emotional exhaustion: Facebook and Twitter bring relationships to the comfort of my armchair.
That’s the problem.
Facebook and Twitter are often blessings. Social media are wonderful way to keep in touch with people, hear their personal news and chuckle at their jokes. For introverts, however, social media can become a substitute for relationships or an excuse for not interacting with others. Social media may not be deep or meaningful, but they’re easy—certainly easier than meeting strangers, making commitments and spending time with people.
I never seem to have enough time, and I’m sometimes reluctant to spend it with others. People are exhausting. What I forget is that people are also awesome. More to the point, God has called me to love them. How can I love my neighbor when I don’t really know him?
As much as introverts struggle to relate to people, I’m sure extroverts have problems of their own. (Selfishly, I kind of hope they do; weakness loves company.) Check back next time for a guest’s thoughts on the problems of being an extrovert!