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Do you love Facebook? Do you enjoy getting a glimpse into the daily lives of your family and friends? If you do, there’s an excellent chance that you’re an introvert. If you hate Facebook, you could be an extrovert.
Everything about Facebook serves the emotional and psychological needs of introverts. It gives them a place to socialize and chat with people they like, without having to deal with the elements of in-person dialogues that make them uncomfortable. It allows them to say their piece, without being interrupted, scowled at, or patronized.
Extroverts, on the other hand, often despise everything about Facebook. The facial cues, the back-and-forth banter and the physical contact are all missing. In fact, it’s often the extrovert who expounds upon the tragedy that social networks and smartphones are causing to society and interpersonal relationships.
It’s time to take a stand for all of you introverts who love Facebook as much as I do.
Introverts Don’t Look Up
Do you remember that viral video that spread throughout Facebook (ironically) like wildfire?
It expounded upon how our obsession with using smartphones to check email, social network status updates and other ways of remotely connecting with family and friends over the Internet is somehow destroying the fabric of society and interpersonal interactions.
It had millions of views, and oddly it’s now offline. However, the reaction I personally had to this video was expressed perfectly by a response video created by Murderbot Productions, called “Look Down”.
My favorite part of that rhyme went as follows:
“I mean start a conversation on the bus?
Are you kidding me?
I’m talking all the time.
I’m learning constantly.
That my mother’s a much deeper person than I might ever have known her to be;
And that I have the funniest friends in the world;
especially those who are just on Reddit spreading new memes.
Loneliness is not in the global community;
if there’s a commonality you just can’t see,
look a little harder because;
we all want the same thing.”
The part that hit the nail on the head as far as why Facebook appeals so much to the Introvert was a little further in the video, and went like this:
“An asshole in person is the same as online;
only worse because I can’t block you, and you’re harder to avoid.”
And that’s the crux of it. Introverts are the folks you see sitting at the corner table at the party, alone and uncomfortable, because they can’t stand being trapped in the middle of some mindless, mundane conversations with boring people. It gives them a headache. In real life, you can’t “block” the extrovert who just loves to hear themselves talk, and won’t ever shut up.
The Psychology of Introverts
In a fascinating, long-running study started in 1989 by Dr Jerome Kagan, researchers found that infants and toddlers who were hypersensitive to external stimuli, typically grew up to be quiet, reserved and thoughtful introverts.
“The higher the degree of ‘hypersensitivity’ an individual experiences towards sights, sounds, smells, and the closeness of other people, the more likely it is that those same individuals will seek to avoid them.
Hypersensitivity both creates and explains why introverts hold such a strong preference for seeking out quiet, serene and unpopulated spaces in which to live and work.”
It is for this very reason that the experience of using Facebook appeals so much more to introverted people. From the quiet comfort of your own home, you can enjoy a virtual “party” with friends and family. You can exchange witty jokes, play online games together, and even dive into a long and very intimate instant chat with loved ones.
You can do all of that without having to endure a voice blasting into your ear from a telephone, without the distractions and background noise of an actual in-person party, and without the danger of an extrovert jumping into the conversation, tossing you aside, and taking over.
Extroverts Don’t Use Facebook as Much as Introverts
Really, the smoking gun that introverts love Facebook much more than extroverts is the fact that they use it more.
Late last year, Dr. Pavica Sheldon at the University of Alabama in Huntsville conducted a study on this very topic, which she published in the Journal of Psychosocial Research on Cyberspace. In that study, she found that while extroverts may be more active on Facebook, Introverts actually use the social network for much longer periods of time than extroverts.
In other words, even though the extroverts who are there tend to try to steal the limelight (just like they do in real life), Facebook is actually utilized much more by introverts. Why? Because Facebook appeals to an introverts desire to control who they interact with, and how that interaction takes place. Unlike in-person environments where introverts often feel like they have no control over interactions.
This need to control how communication takes place is what makes social networks in general more appealing to introverts. Krystal D’Costa said it best in a Scientific American article on introverts online, when she wrote:
“…this has also long been a criticism of these forms of communication—the ideas that reducing direct contact actually hurts relationships. We know that these media are not well suited to fully capturing the nuances of a conversation. But for introverts, they might actually be ideal because they offer the chance to control the interaction.”
This is especially true on Facebook, where you can make your status updates visible only to the family and friends who you’ve accepted into your list of Facebook “friends”. You can tell Facebook not to show you updates in the news stream from people you find annoying or rude. If someone is obnoxious when commenting on your Facebook wall, you can simply remove them as a friend, and you never have to see or hear from them again.
For introverts, this is a dream come true.
Introverts, Why Do You Love Facebook?
Are you an introvert who loves Facebook? Share the reasons why you spend so much time on Facebook and probably always will. Make your voice heard on the matter — don’t be shy!