Twitter, Facebook, generally the “social web” stuff are all about fauxtroversion: a third kind of attitude to social interactions, besides the two classical ones, the extroverted and the introverted.
Communication, at least when it comes to extro- and introversion, has (at least) two aspects: content (talking about interesting stuff), and feelings.
Introverts or nerds, like me, don’t like it. Which does not mean we don’t like to communicate, but we only like to communicate about impersonal, interesting topics like programming languages, politics and economics, and dislike the touchy-feely feelings of content-free, chitchat-like social interaction.
This why we introverts frequent forums, blogs, Reddit: on these platforms the discussion is always about some interesting topic and never chatting, it’s never like like “Hey, how are you? Haven’t seen you in ages? Are you doing OK?”. That we don’t like to do and we like communicating on forums and blogs because it almost never happens, but it’s always about discussing a topic.
First, IRC, later on, other chatroom services, later on, MySpace and Facebook, and later on, Twitter, introduced a social, chit-chat, warm-touchy-feely emotional aspect to Internet communication. Or, to be exact: a very poor simulation of those.
So they are all about faking extroversion: you are still an asocial nerd like us introverts, sitting before the computer, not going out, not talking face to face, not looking into eyes, not clapping shoulders, not laughing together, but with these services you can act as if you were extroverted. You can “friend” (“to friend”, a verb) people on Facebook. You can send “Hey, how are you?” kind of faux-chitchat comments or messages to them. You can update these faux-friends about what you had for dinner on Twitter and read theirs and pretend you are interested. You can’t smile and see them smile and high-five and give a clap on the shoulder and all that on Twitter or Facebook, but you can reply to a tweet or a comment with a smiley, which is a poor, low bandwidth simulation of it. In short it’s acting as if you were social and extroverted.
Interesting. I always think of it as externalization: letting external aspects of your existence, such as an online persona or your politics or the products you buy, replace the need for inward clarity.
Tags: cognitive dissonance