Social Networking: Introversion vs. Extraversion

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As an introvert, I’ve never really been part of a large group of friends, but I have had many close friends throughout my life. Generally speaking, I have formed close relationships with people who have been part of my daily life at the time, whether it be at school, work, or another organization. Very often, once one or both of us left that common ground, we drifted apart. Now, Facebook and similar sites have allowed me to reconnect with some of those people, which I think is quite wonderful. Between former classmates and co-workers, relatives, and my current business contacts, my “friends list” has grown to over 200 in just over a year. This just boggles my mind, as it doesn’t seem that long ago that I didn’t feel I had many friends at all.

My list of 230+ friends seems insignificant, however, in comparison to the lists of some of my colleagues with online businesses. One of my contacts has over 3000 “friends” on her list, and it grows every week. As it happens, I have had business dealings with this person, but I’ve also received friend requests from people I’ve never heard of. Sometimes they include a note to explain why they want to connect with me, but often they don’t even do that. When I check, these people usually have 800 or more “friends” already. To me this type of activity has about as much value as attending a large networking event and running around and exchanging business cards with as many people as possible, hoping that sometime, somewhere, something may come of it. I find it much more valuable to take the time to get to know a few people well enough that I will feel comfortable sending referrals their way, and hopefully they may do the same for me.

Which brings me to the question – is this amassing of “friends” an extraverted thing? Or am I missing something?

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Janet Barclay

I'm a Website Design and Care Specialist who loves helping others succeed by sharing the knowledge and insight I’ve gained through marketing my own business for over 15 years. When I’m away from my desk, I enjoy reading, photography, watching movies, and cooking.

6 Comments

  1. isabella mori on June 19, 2008 at 7:44 pm

    as someone who has spent quite a time thinking about this, and as a “closet introvert” who is an INFP, i think it’s both.

    extroverts really think and experience differently (as you may recall, they get their energy from being around people).

    i find that online social media is perfect for introverts. we don’t have to go out, we can just hang out with people whenever we have the energy for it. i personally am having a wonderful time at twitter and stumbleupon.

  2. isabella mori on June 19, 2008 at 7:45 pm

    ooops, i forgot to check off the comment subscription. great blog, by the way!

  3. Daniel Noll on March 8, 2009 at 12:01 pm

    I found your blog and post while searching for something like “social networking and introverts”. Am an INTJ.

    I’m inclined to believe that amassing 3000 Facebook friends is either a) a thinly veiled attempt at mass marketing, or b) a cry for help.

    And although online social media and networking is probably more appealing to introverts than face-to-face networking, the pressure and perceived need to constantly communicate in our “always on” society may, over the long haul, dilute some of the benefit for introverts

    Am heading back out onto the road, but I’ll look forward to continuing this conversation and reading your blog.

  4. Janet Barclay on April 5, 2009 at 12:22 pm

    Daniel, I am inclined to agree that amassing 3000 Facebook friends is a (not so) thinly veiled attempt at mass marketing. There’s no way they are forming relationships with that many people, on either a personal or professional level.

  5. Mike on August 7, 2010 at 11:50 am

    I am extremely INTJ. I have found that online social networking as a waste of time for me. It seems like a chore and no meaningful exchange takes place. Close personal bonds with many have diminished to ‘i don;t have time to talk, just send me a message on {insert site here, or text or…}

    I would be nice if there was better functionality designed around the introverts. This use to exist back in my early online (not limited to internet) days, as most of the people that were on BBS or MUDs were introverts.

  6. Janet Barclay on October 5, 2010 at 8:50 pm

    There have been quite a few developments in the world of social networking since I wrote this post, one of which is an increasing number of people and businesses using it for promotional purposes. As a result, there is a lot of “noise” out there that you have to filter out, but I’m still finding it very useful on both a personal and professional level. It’s much easier to ignore someone who doesn’t interest you online than in a face-to-face situation!

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