We’re closing in on the halfway mark for 2018 and it seems like the year is speeding by. I’ve written a few times about my theme for the year, “essential,” including my most recent post recapping my essential wardrobe challenge. I’ve been thinking a lot about what I really need and want in my life, as well as what brings me joy. I’ve come to understand that I’m more easily overwhelmed than a lot of other people I know. I used to berate myself for this fact, but I have moved more to a place of self-compassion and a willingness to honor my own needs. We all have different personalities and constitutions and that’s as it should be. When we increase our awareness of who we are and work with our personality traits instead of against them, we often fare better in life.
The tagline for this blog is “striving for happiness, peace, and fulfillment… in a chaotic world.” I added that last part because I often feel highly stressed out by the fast pace and “always connected” state of being that’s so common in today’s society. This way of life doesn’t work well for me and I’ve become far happier since I’ve learned to accept this fact and live my life accordingly. However, I’m still struggling with the concept of moderation, especially when it comes to technology and connection.
Introversion vs. Extroversion
People have varying needs for connection and some of us are extroverts and others are introverts. In the Myers-Briggs personality type framework, those who are extroverted are energized by being around other people and enjoy being involved in a lot of different activities. In contrast, introverts prefer to spend more time in their inner worlds and become drained by a large amount of interpersonal interaction. They feel the need to “re-charge” after spending time with others and don’t require as much interaction as extroverts do. The difference between extroversion and introversion is further outlined on this page , and you can take an online quiz to help distinguish where you fall on the spectrum. I took the quiz and scored as 78% Introverted and only 22% Extroverted, which came as little surprise to me.
What I didn’t understand until recently is that the concepts of introversion and extroversion apply to online interaction as well. Sure, I may be sitting in my quiet home while interacting via telephone, email, or social media, but that type of connection can be just as draining to an extreme introvert as being at a party. I’ve always been a person who values quality over quantity in terms of the number of friends I have and how often I connect with those people. I may go weeks or months without communicating with someone while still caring deeply about that person and considering them to be a close friend. I just don’t have the need to be in frequent communication with anyone besides my husband. I believe that relationships need to be nurtured and maintained, but I’ve never been a high-maintenance friend. I would much rather see or talk to someone once in a while and have that contact be deep and meaningful. In my mind, there are no quotas for how often I need to hear from someone and I’m okay if a friend or family member takes a few days or even longer to respond to me (emergency situations excepted, of course).
I’ve mentioned that I’m sometimes lonely and would like to have more face-to-face interaction with people. That’s still the case, but a little can go a long way for me and my fellow introverts. The ideal number of social interactions I’d like to have is a delicate balance. A few in-person get-togethers per month are plenty, and I’m fine with only having a handful of telephone conversations during that time frame as well. My threshold is somewhat higher for email and text-based interactions, but I generally don’t want to connect with anyone on a daily basis. This is a matter of my personality type and not any offense to the people in my life at all. I just need more alone time and “downtime” than the extroverts and “ambiverts” (those who can easily go back and forth between extroversion and introversion – my husband is one of those) I know.
Social Media and Introversion
I’ve been able to balance my life as an introvert for many years, but social media changed the ball game to a large degree. You see, social media is all about being hyper-connected all the time, which goes against the way I’ve conducted my relationships for most of my life. I joined Facebook around ten years ago, but I wasn’t very active on that platform until probably 2014. My participation skyrocketed with Facebook groups, particularly when I started my own group in the summer of 2015. I hesitated for a long time to start a group because something in my gut told me it would be a struggle, but I did it to give the readers of my previous blog a way to safely and easily interact with each other.
Although I knew that my regular participation in the group wasn’t required, I felt that I should be there, plus I grew to enjoy many of the people and conversations there. The pull to stay involved with my group and the many health-focused groups I belonged to led to my spending several hours a day on Facebook, which was much too much for me. When I chose “balance” as my theme for 2016, I knew that something needed to change. I had grown weary with spending so much time online, but I didn’t realize that it wasn’t just about time management. At the time, I didn’t understand that I wasn’t being true to myself and my personal need for space and time to re-charge.
I believe that social media is better suited to extroverts than introverts and that extroverts feel more at home on those platforms. It’s more natural for extroverts to share photos and details of their day-to-day lives and to message with friends multiple times per day. Extroverts are energized by such activities, so social media can be a good fit for them, although the issue of moderation is still applicable for everyone. Over time, I have started to feel more and more anxious whenever I spend time on social media. While Facebook is the main platform that I’ve used, I find all social media applications to be “noisy” and overwhelming. It feels like I’m at a loud nightclub or a rock concert where everyone is shouting and I can’t hear what anyone is saying. I also feel like unless one commits to being online daily or even multiple times per day, it’s impossible to keep up with the stream of information and endless notifications.
Is There a Happy Medium?
Many people have elected to opt out of social media altogether, as is advocated by author and computer science professor Cal Newport, author of Deep Work. I have considered doing this, but I didn’t want to “throw the baby out with the bath water” and give up the positive interactions I have there. So instead, I’ve cut way back and have been hoping to find some sort of happy medium that would work for me. Unfortunately, I’ve struggled with that goal, as social media really seems to be an all or nothing proposition. I’ve found that when I’m not engaged on a very regular basis, I can’t keep up at all. After just a few days, I come online to over a hundred notifications and countless threads, which has me feeling extremely anxious and like I just can’t win. I feel like I’m not really part of the community unless I’m there all the time and I find it hard to find the most meaningful posts, threads, and comments within the never-ending scroll.
I don’t know what the answer is, but I do know that I feel happier and calmer the less time I spend on social media. I still feel the “should” pull to go online, but I find myself resisting it more times than not lately. I miss my online friends, but if I have to choose to either be all-in or all-out, I’m going to have to go with the latter for the sake of my peace and happiness. I don’t know if I have to make such a choice, but it’s increasingly feeling like I might. I’m going to keep honoring myself and my needs and only go online when I truly want to do so, but can my desire for quality over quantity actually work in the fast-paced world of Facebook and other such platforms? Can introverts find a way to make these tools work for themselves without compromising their own well-being?
It All Comes Back to This
My themes of the past few years – simplicity/joy, deliberate, balance, peace, and essential – have all brought me to this place of authenticity (hmmm – perhaps my theme for 2019?). For years, I’ve been trying to be something and someone I’m not and I’m not going to do that anymore. A lot of the reason why I stopped writing my last blog was because the joy had gone out of it for me. I was writing what I thought I should write and worrying too much about what readers might think and say rather than sharing from the heart like I did in the beginning. I also turned my Facebook group over to new leadership because it no longer was true to my vision and had become a source of too much stress (although I’m still part of the smaller off-shoot group that someone else created, which is the main reason I even have a Facebook account at this point).
This blog has a much smaller readership and far fewer comments, but I’m okay with that, as I like the more intimate feel of it and the freedom to write about a broader range of subjects. Even so, I did worry a bit about writing this particular post, as some of my Facebook friends read here and I don’t want anyone to get the wrong idea of my feelings about them. I truly value these people, but I’m wrestling with how to balance my desire to connect with them with my challenges around using that platform. I want to have quality interactions that are uplifting for all concerned, but I haven’t figured out how to best make that work yet. This is something that I’m going to continue to work on while also trying to live more of my life off of the computer as well. I’m still not sure what I want this to look like, but I know that I will need to honor my introvert tendencies and my need for quiet, private time to re-charge. I hope I can find the type of happy medium I’m searching for.
I’m guessing that some of you will be able to relate to the sentiments I’ve expressed here. I also know that readers will have insights that will be helpful for those of us who are struggling to balance overwhelm with our desire for connection. If you have tips and suggestions, please share them. Likewise, if you just want to commiserate with me and others who have yet to figure out how to experience peace amidst this hyper-connected world, I’d love to read your words as well. I’m sure I will be writing more about this topic, but I thank you for reading my thoughts today.
29 thoughts on “When Connection Becomes Too Much of a Good Thing”
This post is incredibly timely for me. It so resonated! What a gift. Thank you.
I’m so happy you found it helpful, Susan! We often seem to be on the same page in life, don’t we?
I think you just kept me from making a big mistake! 🙂 I’m taking a pause to reflect based on your post and not jumping in. I think social media can become a draining, time-sucking trap that will keep me from producing content. Thank you for sharing such a valuable post.
That’s great that I played a role in preventing a big mistake for you, Susan! Social media can definitely be a time-suck and for those of us with chronic illness, we have less energy than a lot of other people. I feel like I only have a maximum of 4 or 5 hours a day to be on the computer (sometimes less), so if I spend a bunch of that time on social media, I have trouble getting many of my priorities done, too. It’s all about trade-offs and we have to do what’s right for us. For me, it’s gotten to the point of having a visceral, “No!” reaction to going online a lot of times. Honoring that reaction has been self-affirming and I’m hoping that by paying more attention to my feelings and needs, I may be able to expand my bandwidth and improve my health. It definitely can’t hurt!
Hi Debbie, I am very similar to you and can really relate to this article. I am 50 and my husband and I moved abroad 9 years ago and we don’t have any family or friends here. Sometimes I feel that I ought to have friends here or ought to want to go home and visit my family, as that is what is expected, but if we make arrangements to go out with someone or go home, it actually stresses me out and I don’t really want to do it. I am happiest spending time alone with my dog or with my husband. I have been having counselling for depression and I am now focusing on what is best for my physical and mental health. I need quiet time to relax, read my favourite books and magazines and listen to relaxing music. I enjoy spending time at home. I only look at a few of my favourite blogs when I have time and I want to. I rarely post on Facebook and only have a few of my very close family & friends on there, as i don’t see them anymore, so it’s my way of seeing what they are up to. It’s important to be true to your authentic self and values and do what makes you happy and not what you think you ought to do or you think is expected of you. Listen to your body and mind and do what feels right for you on that day. Follow your own path to find peace, calm, acceptance and fulfilment.
My counsellor recommended this article below, which I found helpful, as I tend to operate in the Doing mode and I need to spend more time in the Being mode:
The Difference Between “Being” and “Doing” – Mindful:
Our continued dwelling on how we are not as we would like to be just makes us feel worse, taking us even further from our desired goal. This, in turn only serves to confirm our view that we are not the kind of person we feel we need to be in order to be happy.
The “Doing” Mode:
The job of this mode of mind is to get things done—to achieve particular goals that the mind has set. These goals could relate to the external world—to make a meal, build a house, get a new job —or to the internal world of self—to feel happy, not make mistakes, never be depressed again, to lose weight or be a good person. The basic strategy to achieve such goals involves something we call the “discrepancy monitor”: a process that continually monitors and evaluates our current situation against a model or standard—an idea of what is desired, required, expected, or feared. Once this discrepancy monitor is switched on, it will find mismatches between how things are and how we think they should be. That is its job. Registering these mismatches motivates further attempts to reduce these discrepancies. But, crucially, dwelling on how things are not as we want them to be can, naturally enough, create further negative mood. In this way, our attempts to solve a “problem” by endlessly thinking about it can keep us locked into the state of mind from which we are doing our best to escape. Our continued dwelling on how we are not as we would like to be just makes us feel worse, taking us even further from our desired goal. This, in turn only serves to confirm our view that we are not the kind of person we feel we need to be in order to be happy.
This approach has worked brilliantly as a general strategy for solving problems and achieving goals in the impersonal, external world—whether those goals be as humble as buying all the items on our weekly shopping list or as lofty as building a house. It is natural, then, that we should turn to this same doing mode when things are not as we would like them to be in our personal, internal worlds—our feelings and thoughts, or the kind of person we see ourselves to be. And this is where things can go terribly wrong.
Whenever there is a sense of “have to,” “must,” “should,” “ought,” or “need to,” we can suspect the presence of doing mode.
THE “BEING” MODE It is the opposite of the driven–doing mode. The driven-doing mode is goal-oriented, motivated to reduce the gap between how things are and how we think we need them to be; our attention is narrowly focused on these discrepancies between actual and desired states. By contrast, the being mode is not devoted to achieving particular goals. In this mode, there is no need to emphasize discrepancy-based processing or constantly to monitor and evaluate (“How am I doing in meeting my goals?”). Instead, the focus of the being mode is “accepting” and “allowing” what is, without any immediate pressure to change it. “Allowing” arises naturally when there is no goal or standard to be reached, and no need to evaluate experience in order to reduce discrepancies between actual and desired states. In the being mode, feelings do not so immediately trigger old habits of action in the mind or body directed at hanging on to pleasant feelings or getting rid of unpleasant feelings. There is a greater ability to tolerate uncomfortable emotional states.
Happiness is not about changing your circumstances but changing the eyes through which you view your circumstances.
Best wishes Sally O’Rourke
Thank you for sharing, I really needed to read this right now.
You always share such interesting and helpful information, Sally, and you and I seem very similar in our approach to life and what makes us happy. Until recently, however, I wasn’t honoring myself and my need for quiet time, including time when I’m not online and connected. Earlier this year, I committed to not going on my computer late at night and I mostly honor that commitment, which has made a big difference for me. I still stay up too late, but not going online has helped me to wind down better. I need to focus a lot more on being rather than doing. I tend to focus too much on my to-do list and accomplishing things, which is important but certainly not everything! I love the last line of your comment and it really hit home. Having the right perspective is everything and reframing our circumstances can definitely help with healing depression. Thank you so much for sharing. Like Tara C, I really needed to read what you wrote.
I’ve heard several people say that they would like to spend less time on social media and I often wonder if there’s something wrong with me because I don’t. That really makes me giggle at myself because it just goes to show how different we all are and how important it is to be true to what we really want. I’m an ambivert. I have no control over feeling extroverted or introverted on any given day. In my offline life I’m happy with 3-4 get togethers a month and a handful of phone calls a week. I like to be alone or with my husband. Almost every one of my friends in my offline life is a major extrovert. For years I thought there was something wrong with me because I didn’t want to get together multiple times a week, go to classes, text or call every day, or go on vacations together. They would all be pumped up and excited and I’d be thinking that it just felt like too much. When I finally figured out why I just came out and told them. We had fun taking the tests together and they understood that it was about me, not about them.
My online life is a little different, but similar. Some days I feel very talkative and I respond to a lot of things or post myself. Other days I don’t “talk” as much and I’ll be more apt to just like something to basically say I read this and I heard you. Once upon a time I felt a sense of obligation or expectation that I should respond to everything. I don’t feel that way anymore thankfully because that could be draining to me. If I don’t feel like I have anything relevant to add I’m okay with not commenting. I don’t really follow very much online anymore. Maybe 2 blogs and 3 YouTubers? I’m not a big TV watcher aside from baseball. I’m not in a bunch of FB groups and I don’t spend very much time on regular FB anymore. So the FB group I am in feels perfect for me. I go on for short bits of time during the day in between doing other things and spend more time there at night, but that’s just because I want to. If I want to do something else like read a book or watch a movie I do. I hope that you’re able to find your balance where you feel good about what you’re doing and that you’re doing what you want to do, not what you feel you should.
Something I did wonder about was maybe you’re still not beyond the burnout you felt when you overdid it? Several years ago when I was getting a ridiculous amount of calls and texts on my cell I would physically cringe when I heard it ring. I HATED the sound of that phone. I seriously thought about smashing it. I ended up turning the ringer off most of the time. I would miss calls I did want to take, but I was so glad to not have to hear it anymore. That was so far from the place I was when I was excited to get a call and would run to the phone. It’s just been in the last half year or so that I’ve noticed I don’t mind it now. I don’t immediately associate that sound with something negative. Maybe you’re not there yet? Maybe you still associate social media with negative feelings? That on top of not wanting a ton of interaction would probably not make it feel very fun.
Interesting that you have felt there’s something wrong with you because you’re okay with your social media usage, Tonya, because you have been one of the people I compared myself to and wondered what was wrong with ME (as in, “if Tonya can read and reply to all of these threads and it’s fine for her, why isn’t it for me?”). But we are all different and there really isn’t a right or wrong, just what works best for us. I think the sense of obligation and guilt I’ve had has been the biggest problem, as well as not honoring my needs and limits for so long. I think you’re right that I’m still not beyond the burnout. It’s only been recently that I have been trying to only go online when I truly feel like it rather than because it’s been a few days and I really should check in. I still battle with the guilt, but because of the burnout, I’m pushing back against it. I DO often associate social media with negative feelings because of some of the issues I’ve had with various people and groups. I also know there are a lot of good people there, but then I worry that people become upset with me because I don’t keep up. I know a lot of it (probably most of it) is my personal issue. I’ve felt the same way about the phone in the past as well and I’ve had to end friendships with people who didn’t respect my boundaries (like one who used to say “Hello, Stranger” to me when we would talk after maybe a week of not having spoken). I’m still finding my way with all of this, as I really don’t want it to be an all or nothing proposition, especially since I do value my friendships with you and others who I interact with online. There’s no easy answer, but I’m going to continue to work through it…
I can’t speak for anyone else, but I know I don’t have any expectations of you and how much you’re on FB. It’s fun when you are and I enjoy interacting with you, I notice when you’ve been off for a long time and hope everything is okay with your health, but I’m never upset because you haven’t been participating.
Thank you for telling me this, Tonya. It’s good to know that you don’t get upset with me. It may be the case that NO ONE gets upset with me at all and it’s all my issue. I have a tendency to compare myself and think that I SHOULD be able to do what other people are doing. My health is a big part of it in that I have less bandwidth (aka “fewer spoons”) than a lot of other people do, but I haven’t fully accepted that. I still often believe I should be able to “do it all” or at least more than I am doing. I really do need to accept my own limits more and trust that those who care about me will be okay with it.
Speaking as an extroverted person who has a very low tolerance for social media or any online social interactions I have many thoughts and speculations on this topic. I’ll be back to comment in a few days. Need time to thoughtfully consider before I respond. This is not one of those posts I can jump in and respond to in five minutes or so. Also because I’d planned to be away from the internet for a few days of quiet time. Meanwhile, I agree with you, honor your need to limit or even avoid social media involvement. Be well and may calm and soothing thoughts surround you.
I appreciate your thoughtful responses, Terra, and look forward to reading more of what you have to say. I honor the fact that you take time away from the internet for quiet time and I have been doing that more myself, except it’s not always planned in advance. Thank you for your kind thoughts and wishes. I could definitely use some of those calm and soothing thoughts!
I’m an ISTJ in Meyers-Briggs. I took the linked quiz and found I’m 80% Introverted and 20% Extroverted. This wasn’t a huge surprise for me as I know I am NOT energized by being around people. I’m happiest being at home with my husband and pets, but with getting out of the house several times a week. I do like a little in-person, human interaction. I get overloaded easily in any crowded environment, like a mall on the weekend or a concert. I love The Eagles and for Christmas one year my husband bought me a DVD of them in concert. This is the best possible way for me to see them – at home, on a large TV screen, surround sound, and just me and him. No crowds or hassle. I really loved his thoughtful gift. I’m only on FB for 3 groups I belong to, and I am online frequently. It doesn’t stress me out though. I’m not on other social media like Instagram or Twitter. I’m glad you’re working through what makes you happiest Debbie! We all need to do whatever is right for us as individuals.
I’m an INFP/J (on the cusp of P and J) and I’m also not energized being around people (although there have been some exceptions, like last year’s meetup). I’m basically happy being more of a homebody and hanging out with my husband and pets, too. I love the concert DVD idea and will keep that in mind, as I’m not super motivated to actually go to concerts. I mostly only use FB for a few groups (mostly just 2 at this point) now, too, but I’m not totally sure why it stresses me out. I think it’s because I feel I can’t keep up but that maybe I SHOULD and that people might think badly of me. I probably need to change my attitude about it in addition to honoring my own needs. I agree that we need to do whatever is right for us as individuals. The people who truly care about us will hopefully respect and honor us for being true to ourselves.
Hi, Debbie. I am an INFJ, “balanced I/E (60/40). We are what we are. I love being the first one up in the a.m. for alone time.I read novels, your and others’ blogs, and do light housework in these hours. (I am retired and have this luxury.) Aside from the blogs and emails to people I have known in other places I’ve lived, I do not do any form of social media. People I care about know what I am up to, and vice versa. You sound perfectly normal to me, and I would love to speak with you because you are deep and thoughtful and caring. I am Helen of the tiny wardrobe from the old blog.
Thank you for your kind words, Gail (Helen). You have always been supportive of me, even though I know my large wardrobe baffled you 🙂 I’m glad I sound normal to you – it seems like we are alike in a lot of ways. I do think the world is often more geared toward extroverts, but I’ve learned that if I try to be something I’m not, I won’t be happy. Good for you for honoring who you are and acting accordingly.
I took the quiz: 78% introverted/22% extroverted. Also INTJ and HSP. People = static in my head.
Ideally, 1 friend event and 1 family event per month. That’s every other week, which is plenty. I don’t want to start any sort of group (internet or IRL) because I don’t want to commit to interaction. It seems like a HUGE burden. I tend to feel more lonely in a crowd than when alone.
My husband gave me my favorite cup, which says “You read my mug. That’s enough social interaction for one day.” I feel slightly guilty about not bringing people into my mildly extroverted husband’s life. Not too guilty, as I did make two human beings who have kept him very occupied for years, but they’re about to leave the nest, so I’m going to have to up my game. To that end, I have joined a new Introverts meetup group. We’ll see how it goes.
Happiness is when the house phone doesn’t ring all day. The many political bot calls during election season are driving me crazy. I don’t give out my cell phone number at all, because I don’t want people to reach out and touch me wherever I am. 😬
Social media: I use it mostly for news; otherwise, it is dissatisfying. I have spent time on it seeking compatible people, but not very successfully (this blog may be one of the few exceptions). The format doesn’t lend itself to deep discussion, and I often find people to be abrasive and confrontational. I prefer privacy to public disclosure. I’m even slightly disturbed by being “followed” on pinterest and etsy. Who are these people? Why are they following me? (Surreptitious glances behind.)
It can be very challenging to maintain relationships with extroverts who want more interaction than I’m comfortable having. Either they feel neglected or I feel hunted; someone usually ends up resentful.
Wow, we have the same score, Terry, and we have similar viewpoints, too. I got a big chuckle out of the mug your husband gave you! I also smiled about how you made two human beings that kept your husband very occupied for years. I like the idea of an introverts meetup group, even though it seems counter-intuitive in some ways 🙂 I agree with what you wrote about maintaining relationships with extroverts. I’ve had many friends who seemed to have a quota for how often we should talk or see each other, which was very different from how I felt about that. I did feel “hunted” and I know they felt neglected. I don’t have many friends now, which is a double-edged sword. I sometimes feel it would be nice to have a few more, but I also feel the pressure to keep in touch and that can be challenging.
I know what you mean about the Introverts meetup being counter-intuitive, but I figure other introverts are more likely to understand my need for space. Some humorous irony: the first group meeting is today but I procrastinated RSVPing too long and it filled up. It’s as if there are two people in me battling it out: “Go!” “Don’t go!” Oh well, guess I’ll have to enjoy this beautiful day at home, which is no hardship at all.🙂
That totally sounds like something I would do, too, Terry! I completely get that inner battle and experience it all the time… I hope you had a wonderful quiet weekend and I also hope that you will make it to one of those meetings in the future and share how it went. I agree that other introverts are far more likely to understand your need for space. We introverts still need social interaction, just not all that much!
93% introverted. INFJ. Enneagram 4 with lots of 5 tendencies. Can you tell I’ve been reading up on personality types lately? It started as an exercise to help me develop characters for a story I’ve been working on (I’m unpublished so far), but it’s turned into a way to know myself better. A wedding to go today with mostly strangers… I’ll be drained by night’s end!
I love this, Jenn! I’m very into personality types, too, and can’t really get enough of taking such quizzes and reading all about what makes us tick as human beings. I’m an Enneagram 6 with lots of 4 tendencies. I had trouble typing myself, so I had a typing session with an expert who told me I was a 6. I was surprised, but after reading more about it, it fits pretty well. I hope the wedding on Saturday wasn’t too draining for you or at least that you were able to recharge yesterday. Best wishes with your writing and with getting to know yourself better!
I’m happy with my social media balance. I like connecting with old friends and keeping up with people who’re far from me. I don’t live close to where I grew up and social media has brought those people back into my circle.
A few years ago I had breast cancer and social media, specifically a site for people (men can get breast cancer too!) with breast cancer, was a god send. While my in-person friends were sympathetic to my situation, the friends I made there could “talk” about it without end. At the time that was what I needed. I attended some in-person support groups, but they were so small I never found anyone who matched my diagnosis and treatment and I’d been spoiled by the ability on the Internet to “turn off” people who got boring. I’m not sure if that’s a good or a bad thing about social media 🙂
My son used to be on Facebook, then he switched to Instagram. Earlier this week I was talking to him and he told me he’d quit Instagram, he felt it was taking up too much of his time and he we obsessing over other people’s stuff. So I said to him, ‘well, you need to remember and call your mother more if you’re going to do that because how’s she going to know what you’re up to if you aren’t posting?” I’m hoping he’ll reappear. He doesn’t live nearby and I liked seeing what he’d been seeing.
I’m glad to hear that your social media involvement is balanced, Rose. There are definitely positive aspects to it if we can do it in a way that truly works for us. I just got really out of balance with it and have been struggling with it for a long time now. I was involved in some health-related Facebook groups, too, that were very helpful. Some are a lot better than others, but I’m glad you found a good one that helped you to get through what must have been an extremely difficult time. I know that social media can be a way for parents to keep up with their kids, too, so I hope your son is able to find a way to balance his Instagram usage and get back to posting once again.
As an introvert, this post really resonated with me. I’ve known for a long time that I can only cope with so much human interaction, but it’s more recently that I discovered that the same is true for online interaction. It was quite a revelation for me! I know now that sometimes it’s necessary for me to unplug from or at least limit my time on social media, especially if real life is overwhelming me. It has been freeing to accept that this is okay and to give myself permission to unplug despite a sense of guilt and FOMO at times.
It sounds like you had a similar realization to mine, Michaela. It was surprising to me, too, as I really thought that online interaction was different and not draining for me as an introvert. Limiting my social media time has been helpful, but as with most things for me, I let the situation get out of hand for too long and I’m still recovering from burnout. Hopefully, you recognized it early enough that you can find a balance that works for you. The guilt and FOMO can be difficult, but it does get easier after a while. I had to realize that trying to keep up was very unhealthy for me. I remember that Courtney Carver had a post about JOMO, the joy of missing out. It’s a reframe that I have found helpful recently when it comes to a lot of things, including social media.
Here’s the post… I enjoyed reading it again just now and I hope you and others will also find it meaningful.
I’m back to attempt to capture my thoughts and insights on this topic. As I mentioned earlier, I’m an extrovert (ENFP scoring extroverted in the 80 percentile) and I have a low tolerance for online social media. I’m convinced that social media has more to do with personality types and not introversion or extroversion. My husband is extroverted and he also does not enjoy much social media. Also I have a number of close friends who are extremely introverted and they enjoy social media and prefer it over socializing in real life. For me, I have no worries of ever being addicted to FB (or even for online shopping) because I find it too intense and I never want to do it for more than half an hour. What I don’t like about FB is that there are too many demands put on me to make caring, thoughtful, or candidly fun comments. On FB I have a lovely group of close friends, family, and other folks I’ve met and worked with on writing projects, at conferences and these are people I enjoy and care about and they are scattered all over the US and across the world and I truly do want to stay connected. But my problem is that on any given day when I log into FB I have all these people sharing something intimate, or something tragic, or inspiring—and I’m faced with the decision to skim, just click “Like” or take the time to write a caring response to their post. It’s too much to read, too many things asking for my attention. So what I do is spend about an hour per week skimming and commenting only on specific things that do matter greatly to me. Online shopping requires me to be focused, takes up way too much time searching and making decisions, so I don’t do that much either.
I find the description of extroversion claiming that extroverted people “getting energy from being around people” extremely funny. Personally I only “receive energy” from people who are inspiring, thoughtful, kind, caring, candid in a fun way, quiet in a peaceful way, or those who are loud and talkative in a manner that boldly states that they are not needy and are not competing for attention. Whereas the whinny, complainers, the grouchy, the hole-in-the-bucket type of people, those who always talk about the same problems, how they can’t overcome the same problems, year after year DRAIN my energy!
As an extrovert I do enjoy two or three real life social interactions each week, but I like them to be spaced apart. Whereas my husband is the type of extrovert who can go to a gathering on Saturday and to another gathering on Sunday. I can’t. I need a day to regroup before I want to go out again. I also prefer larger gathering (six to ten people) over small intimate one or two people gatherings because larger groups require less of me. I can stand back and listen to others, share briefly and take turns within the conversation, and also because at larger gatherings there is less emotionally charged and intimate talk. Although I do enjoy getting together with a close friend for a one-on-one visit, the heart-to-heart talks, the deeply intimate, those type of social situations (although I enjoy it deeply) I find them to be exhausting and it’s that type of social interaction I need to recharge from and would not want to do on a weekly basis.
The other thing is— there is not anyone I love enough to want to spend every single day with. Not even my husband. Thankfully we have schedules where our time dovetails and our work and individual social lives offer us large chunks of time apart, even whole days when we can be alone. I believe my astrological solar, moon and rising sign has as much to do with my social and alone tendencies as does extroversion.
Thank you for coming back to comment, Terra. I always enjoy reading your wise insights and you have added a lot to this discussion. You’re probably right that tolerance for online social media has to do with more than just introversion vs. extroversion. My husband is also an introvert (INTP) and doesn’t spend much time on social media at all. He is more extroverted than I am but still an introvert. His reasons for not loving social media are different than mine, though, and have more to do with the negativity and lack of authenticity he sees online.
I share many of the sentiments you expressed, especially finding social media too intense and feeling that there are a lot of demands to make caring, thoughtful, or candidly fun comments. I also have people on Facebook who I care a lot about, which is part of why I have been struggling so much with my involvement there. I find Facebook very challenging, but I also don’t want to stop interacting with these people and would find it even more overwhelming to find a way to interact with them one on one elsewhere on a regular basis. I’m surprised that you only spend about an hour a week interacting on Facebook, as you seem to comment quite a bit there. I guess you have found a way to use that time very wisely. Reading your comment made me realize that part of my stress is around discerning WHICH threads to comment on and which ones to leave alone since I know I cannot (i.e. am not willing to dedicate so much time) comment on all of them. Even if I choose one thread in my main group to read and comment on, it seems like it takes a long time to do so and then I get super overwhelmed…
You’re very right that some people energize us and others drain us, no matter how extroverted we might be! I have definitely known those exhausting people and I have no doubt that they have depleted their extroverted friends as well as the introverted ones like me. I also liked what you wrote about the deep, engaging one-on-one conversations being tiring and requiring time to recharge from. I love such interactions, but I can only have them once or twice per week.
I do love spending time with my husband every day, but not all day every day. I came to realize that part of my staying up very late was because I needed “my time” back when he was working at home and we were together most of the time. Now that we have more time apart, I’m more okay with not staying up until the wee hours, which is better for my health.
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