An introvert trying to navigate social media on the internet
Introvert - noun (ntr-vûrt) - An introvert is likely to enjoy time spent alone and find less reward in time spent with large groups of people, though he or she may enjoy interactions with close friends.
First things first, I am an Introvert. When I took the Myers-Briggs personality test, I scored quite well on the introverted side of the scale. When I read "Quiet: The Power of Introverts In a World That Can't Stop Talking" by Susan Cain for the first time, I discovered a whole new world. It was a world in which I was not the only one who needed “alone” time to recharge their batteries or thought of a good comeback or idea hours later.
I have a Facebook account (but without several hundred “friends”), a Twitter account that I only use to follow the news headlines and groups I am interested in and most recently I have been setting up a LinkedIn account since I am searching for a job. It is this account that has made me wonder if the internet is still a friendly haven for introverts any more.
So far I have been told by a career consultant that I must have a LinkedIn account and that I should set up another Facebook page for my job search and “brand”. From that page, I am supposed to post updates about my search. A recruiter bluntly told me, “If you are not on at least LinkedIn, it is like you do not exist.” What?? I do exist! I have also read a couple of books on job searching and social media to help guide me with my LinkedIn account set up. Apparently I need at least 30-40 connections to be taken seriously and need to post something every few days to get my “brand” noticed.
I had to take a marketing class in college even though I was an accounting major so I understand the basics of trying to sell things. I also understand a big part of the job search is being able to sell yourself. But a part of me is screaming, “I am a person, not a item on a shelf. Why do I have to treat myself as one?”
I do like interacting with others on the internet. I like being able to see what far flung friends and family are up to and to be able to send them messages when I can. I have been a volunteer listener for the Women Weave the Web campaign. It has been an eye opening and fulfilling experience for me. While it has made my heartbreak reading some of the stories I have been given, I often have a smile on my face when I read about women (and some men) who have decided the status quo is no longer acceptable and they are taking it upon themselves to change at least their part of the world for the better. I feel hopeful when I read stories from women who are beginning to understand how the importance of connecting on the internet can change their lives in the real world. I am glad I have the ability to encourage them forward from my little corner of the world.
My dilemma is this; how do I reconcile the person who wants to use the internet as a tool to learn about the world from new points of view and to keep up with others I already know with a person who has an internet presence that revolves around a brand, an image that is supposed to be constantly selling itself? In order to learn from others, I realize I need to let them in, but do I need to have arrows pointing at a picture of me with a blinking neon sign saying “Pick me, pick me”.
While I am pretty sure I am not the only one thinking this, if they are an introvert like me, they are keeping it to themselves while trying to figure out how to navigate the World Wide Web. :)