There is a tension that exists between introverts and the extroverts who love them. Extroverts feed off live, in-person human interaction — it refuels them and provides a spark that drives them. For introverts like myself, that spark is a rare, not-looked-for thing. Socializing exhausts us, drains us of energy, of emotion. It’s a necessary evil.
But we do find a version of that spark in social media. I have frequently said that I find the friendships I have made online to be just as meaningful as those that have been made face to face. But it’s not merely because it’s technical and remote, but because the quality of the interactions is much more under one’s own control. I can have a conversation or chit chat or what have you with an online friend on my time and my terms, and it need not be facilitated by, say, a long night out or an hours-long phone call. It’s substantive without being all-encompassing.
At the Atlantic, Zeynep Tufekci gets it. She writes:
If anything, social media is a counterweight to the ongoing devaluation of human lives. Social media’s rapid rise is a loud, desperate, emerging attempt by people everywhere to connect with *each other* in the face of all the obstacles that modernity imposes on our lives: suburbanization that isolates us from each other, long working-hours and commutes that are required to make ends meet, the global migration that scatters families across the globe, the military-industrial-consumption machine that drives so many key decisions, and, last but not least, the television — the ultimate alienation machine — which remains the dominant form of media. (For most people, the choice is not leisurely walks on Cape Cod versus social media. It’s television versus social media).
I may have at one time been relegated to the TV, or family alone, but now an awkwardsaurus like myself can have genuine connections with people I choose to interact with because of our interests and thoughts, not just proximity.