Saturday, May 28, 2011

My Social Media Meltdown: Can An Introverted Writer Conquer The Internet?

I am, without question, an introvert.  I'm not the life of the party (well, unless there are several margaritas involved), I'm not the one organizing playdates and mom's nights out, and I'm not the one chatting up somebody I've never met at the park just because our kids look to be about the same age.

If I don't know you, I'm probably not going to talk to you.

It's nothing personal, it's just my nature.  It's not that I don't want to talk to you or get to know you, it's just that I find the whole putting myself out there thing kind of exhausting.

And it turns out that I'm not the only one who feels this way.

What Is An Introvert? defines an introvert as a "reserved or shy person."

According to the Myers-Briggs' definition, an "introvert derives energy from his or her internal world of emotions and ideas, while an extrovert draws from the outside world of people and activities for spiritual sustenance."

I even found one site that described an introvert as a person who "is drained by social interaction."

Is that me?  Um, yes.  Check, check, check.  And a lot of other people too.

The Introverted Writer  

Writing has, historically, been an excellent profession for introverts.  As a writer, it used to be that you were left alone with your own thoughts and ideas.  You didn't have to converse with other people or listen to what they had to say in order to put your own thoughts on paper.  I know, paper, right? 

You could publish what you wrote in a magazine or a book and then let your work go, let your voice float around the world without ever having to truly engage with the people who heard it.

The beauty of the system was that you could say what you wanted to say without ever really having to talk to anybody.   

Or at least maybe that's how it used to be.

Apparently, it's not like that any more.

Online Writing And The Rise of Social Media 

I've discovered recently that writing is not just about writing any more.  Maybe it never really was, but I can't help but think that the rise of socia media has fundamentally changed the writing profession to the point that it isn't so introvert-friendly.

These days, you have to aggressively market yourself and your work through every available social media outlet - Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and I'm sure others that I don't even know exist. 

You have to interact with "friends" and readers on a daily basis, posing questions, responding to their thoughts on your work, and constantly trying to cultivate an interesting image that's going to keep people coming back for more.

As writer and media consultant Lela Davidson writes in her post Social Media: Not Just For Social Butterflies: 

"if you’re working online at all, or offline for that matter, and you’re not using social media you’re going to be left behind."

Introverts Struggle With Social Media

For introverts, social media is problematic on a number of levels. 

Case in point: me.

I enjoy writing about many different aspects of parenting.  I've written blog posts on a variety of topics and in a variety of styles, from simple how-to posts like How To Hold A Family Meeting to informative posts on hot parenting topics like Disney Develops New Marketing Campaign Aimed At Newborns to opinion pieces like Report Cards For Parents? No Way! and The 3 Things Pregnant Women Need More Than A Birth Plan.  

But whether I enjoy writing, or write well, is largely irrelevant these days.  Because online writing is all about getting people to read what you've written, and, thus far, I haven't managed to market my writing, or myself, very well. 

I should be sharing everything I write with all my friends on Facebook, and seeking out new contacts via Twitter.  I should really upload a picture so people can see what I look like.  I should be putting it all out there.

I should be the social butterfly that goes against everything that is my nature.

Sure, the constant social interaction might be draining, but it might also be a positive step in coming out of my shell and facing the world head on.

So, if you want to follow me on Twitter, I'm @stlouismartmama.  I promise there will be a picture soon.  And I'm also thinking that there will be an upcoming post here on social media for introverts, as I wade out into the water and figure out how to take advantage of all that social media has to offer. 

Ten Steps To Embracing Social Media For The Socially Challenged, maybe?

I'm thinking it will start with a tip to invest in a few bottles of vodka or tequila to get the party started. 

Or would a drunk social butterfly be a bad thing?

Photo credit: sahlgoode/Flickr

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