I am an introvert. Sometimes that surprises people because I’m not a reticent introvert who hides behind walls to avoid people. (Though I have done that.) I used to claim I didn’t like people, but that’s not true. I do like people…as long as lengthy conversations aren’t involved.
This means I cherish Facebook and other forms of contact through social media. Facebook has given me a new sense of connecting without actually having to meet up.
I can check up on my friends and “friends” to see how they are doing without a visit or telephone conversation. Long phone chats make me pace and sweat. The one exception is talking with my mother, but even with her, 23 minutes is as long as I can go. When I hang up, I shout to my husband, “19 minutes” or “21 minutes.”
I used to have friends (not “friends”) who would boast that they kept me on the line for nine minutes! They made bets on who could keep me on the phone the longest. Once I wised up, (and email was invented), those bets ended. We emailed rather than talked.
Who is an introvert? Someone who gets energy from being alone and feels drained after parties. An introvert is someone whose eyes glaze over at pointless chit-chat (unless lunch or a glass of wine is involved.) She’s someone who finds networking painful and reading luxurious. However, she wants to connect on some level, if only through social media or email.
I enjoy knowing what’s going on in the lives of my friends and acquaintances, especially when knowing involves no contact. Connection without contact, that’s what I’m talking about.
Why do you care that I’m an introvert? Studies show introverts make up one-third to one-half of the population. Perhaps you have never thought about how extrovert-oriented your church might be and how uncomfortable that makes introverts. (Think hospitality time or sharing the peace.) You might have an introvert in your family or circle of friends, and you should know they do like you, probably love you, and they do want to be with you, but they also cherish their alone time.
This does not make them anti-social; it makes them an introvert. Because I am one, I thank the stars for the many ways I can connect with no contact.
What is your favorite way to connect with friends or “friends”?
Terri Lackey is director for communication for Women of the ELCA.
Modified photo by Ed Yourden, Creative Commons. Used with permission.