Social Interaction for the Introvert

By Jordan McNeil

Social interactions are not my strongest point. I could write the most compelling argument in an essay if given the time, but talking in person? Not so much. And this is compounded by the fact that I don’t really need a lot of social interaction to function on a day-to-day basis. I enjoy the company of my friends and we have some really fun times and good conversations, but there are some times that I just need to sit at my house by myself and not talk to anyone.

OK — it’s actually a lot of times. I’m just not a social creature by nature. I very rarely initiate conversations via texting or online messengers unless there’s something I really need to tell or ask someone, or I stumbled across something — an article, a meme, a random item in a store — that reminded me of them. It’s not that I don’t want to keep in touch with the people in my life; it’s just that I don’t regularly think about socializing for the sake of socializing because, well, I’m kind of a loner sometimes.

This is where social media, for me at least, comes in handy. I like to know what my friends are up to and what’s happening in their lives, but occasionally I don’t really want to talk to anyone. Enter social media. I can get updates on my friends’ jobs or relationships or day-to-day activities and comment on them in my own time without necessarily having to break my alone time. It’s the perfect medium for my low level of social interaction need.

I have friends that have moved out of state — and one even out of the country — who I probably would’ve lost touch with without Facebook. But thanks to social media, I get to see posts about their days and photos of their adventures pretty easily. And, conversely, they get to see my posts about what I’m up to and enjoy my numerous goat selfies.

Now, I’m not saying that social media is inherently 100 percent a good thing. There are dark corners of varying degrees, from bullying and other cyber-crimes to simply being a vortex of time and distraction. But for me, the social introvert, it’s an ideal method of communication.

Do we as an Internet culture society spend too much time on social media? Yeah, probably. I won’t deny that. I check my accounts pretty regularly — sometimes too regularly for there to have been any updates between times. But, personally, I know my life wouldn’t be the same without social media, and I don’t think I would really want to do without it. Even if we’re not close friends, I like catching up with people I know via their tweets or Facebook photos. Sometimes that even leads to meeting up for a cup of coffee and a couple hours of chatting about what we’ve been up to.

For some people, it may seem like an impersonal or distant form of communication, and that’s fine. Everyone has their own different social needs and opinions; I don’t expect those who enjoy talking face-to-face with people multiple times a day to feel the same about social media interactions as I do. But for me, it’s pretty great. It’s just what I need.