A disagreement has broken out between Malcolm Gladwell and Clay Shirky over the power of social networking. The former thinks it is overrated as a means of social change. Previously he has described how as an introvert he has learnt to love speaking in public. It occurs to me this preference could certainly influence how we like to communicate online.
Two years ago as a family we lived on site while doing up an old rural barn. It was a huge renovation project and stuff often went wrong – flooding, falls into cesspits, the wrong insulation laid. While my husband would react with a ‘ Now who can I ask to help with this?’ I would need to sit down in the cowshed, catch my breath and come up quietly with a plan.
Probably down to a heady mixture of genes, nurture and brain wiring, introverts and extraverts respond differently under pressure, and have different priorities in the world. Introverts like to make sense in internal reality and in a corner their top priority will be clarity, order and structure. Extraverts prefer to do their sense-making in external reality – in a corner their top priority will be to get reaction and endorsement from others.
Innies (Is) and Outies (Es)
You can work out what you prefer by considering:
- Are you most tired by long bouts of group chat (I) or solitude (E)?
- Do you have a small group of close friends (I) or a large circle of ‘weak tie’ ones (E)?
- Are you most confident about your plans (I) or your socializing (E)?
- In your presentation do you go for simple and orderly (I), or stimulating (E)?
- What’s worse: being in a mess (I) or being ignored (E)?
It’s most useful to see what we prefer as either end of a continuum, I________E, and a lot of us will cluster around the middle. And we’ll recognize that sometimes we have to act more extravert or introvert as the situation demands. The Successful Self by Dorothy Rowe expands on these ideas.
Blog and Tweets
So blogs – requiring structure, clarity and the orderly laying out of content – may be more attractive to introverts. You can blog at length and in-depth on your expert area, if you want to. But tweets – highly reactive, short, aimed at stimulating and connecting many at once – may appeal more to extraverts.
If you like it, there’ ll be more on all this soon…