Extroverts, introverts and social media

Last week I posted a tweet stating I thought social media was more "attuned to introverts."  As one might expect, introverts agreed and extroverts disagreed.  (For the record I also posted I had had a lot of wine, which is what happens when you spend two R&R days in the wine country.)


I thought, it might be worth taking a few moments to explain myself.  I didn't mean to say that extroverts couldn't use social media effectively.  What I'm saying is that social media is more valuable to introverts.  To be clearer, extroverts don't need social media to communicate in this world.  It's just another tool for them.  For introverts, social media levels the playing field for them with extroverts.

Let's set the table on this discussion.  I'm an introvert.  When I go into a large social setting and talk with a lot of people, it drains me.  What I really like to do in those settings is find an interesting person or two and talk, in depth, about stuff.  Mostly politics, religion and all those things you're told not to discuss in polite company.  Introverts love that stuff and generally don't get pissed off when discussing it.  That kind of social setting energizes me.

When a basic extrovert goes into those social situations, they end the evening with a fist full of business cards, have talked to almost every person in the room at least 30 seconds and made the people they talked to believe they were the most important person in the room. And when they leave, they will be ready to hit the clubs.  But put them in a room with a couple of introverts really getting into a subject, and the extrovert will be ready to hit the pillow.

(It's actually scary to see three introverts hit some clubs.  I did it with two introverted ladies during a trade show in Washington DC several years ago and we terrorized a bar.  It was pretty funny.  But I digress.)

The point is, extroverts are energized by large social settings and introverts are drained by them.  So things like trade shows, traveling, presenting to groups, etc. is really hard for introverts but is mother's milk to extroverts.  Social media changes that for introverts.

I've been predicting the collapse of traditional media since the turn of the century, but no one really listened.  I even said exactly when it was going to happen, almost down to the month.  The reason no one listened was because I was seen as a basic PR hack.  No one knew my background as a journalist, freelance writer, historian and communications theorist. But two years ago I dove into social media ina big way.  Now I regularly have visits from the corporate headquarters of Time Warner and Newscorp to this blog, not to mention the marketing departments and CFOs of major corporations.  Social media gave me street cred on this issue.

On the other side of the coin, you have people like Karen Bartelson, blog wunderkinde of Synopsys who is a quintessential extrovert.  Karen is very well known in the EDA industry and has been well before the term social media was coined.  People read her blog because they know who she is, but she would be no less respected if she did nothing in social media.  She could function very well without social media.  Heck, she'd thrive if media didn't exist.  Why?  Because she is a very smart, well connected extrovert.

I'm not a dim bulb.  I know how to act like an extrovert in busy social situations, but I don't do it really well and it wipes me out.  But right now, I run blogs on the state of the media and communications strategy, theology, local politics, and startup technology.  I participate in discussions on multiple social media sites and my circle of regular contacts is well over a thousand people around the world.  That's what social media does for me and why I say: social media is attuned to introverts.