You’ve undoubtably come across the terms introvert and extrovert before. They’re used to to describe a couple of interchangeable phenomenons, which means the meaning can often get muddled, but the definition I’ve always taken most interest in – and the one that seems to be backed by research & evidence experience – goes something like this:
An extrovert fills up when mixing with other people, and is drained by being alone.
An introvert is emptied by this, and needs time alone to refill.
That’s not to say either ‘type’ dislikes the ’emptying’ activity – it’s possible to be an introvert who is the life and soul of a party. It’s just how it affects your energy levels, and how you feel afterwards, that decides which you identify as.
And of course, it’s a spectrum, and we all move along it at different times – and yet, I always struggled to place myself anywhere specifically along that line.
In so many ways I am undoubtably an introvert – I find social situations tiring, I depend on my time alone as equally as oxygen. In an ideal world I’d balance my time with others at about 30/70, with the larger portion spent in quiet, happy solitude.
But then, that isn’t quite true. I don’t like to be totally alone – in fact, I find that pretty intolerable. The idea of spending a weekend in a cottage by myself somewhere, with no wifi or phone reception actually makes me start to hyperventilate. I’d have to think about things. And not google immediate answers to all my questions!!
It turns out that the ‘alone’ I crave, more often than not, is actually about being alone online.
I ‘fill up’ by hanging out online, and a big part of that is chatting on social media. That special kind of socialising to can do in bed, in leggings, with messy hair, and occasionally with a glass of wine to hand. The kind of socialising where I can consider the perfect phrasing, or stop to follow my thought to it’s end before I speak. The kind where I can connect with like-minded people, at any time of day, and walk away when my brain starts to swim.
In this way, Twitter and Instagram are much like a non-stop party that I’m choosing to attend. Daily! Me, who only goes to real life parties in the hopes of sausage rolls, then finds a cat to stroke in the hall!
So what the hell does that make me, and, if you’re identifying with all of this, then quite possibly you?
Well, in the absence of any fitting descriptor, I am inventing one: webtrovert. I asked on Twitter and it turned out there are tons of us, all feeling the same. We’re a thing, and so it’s clearly time we had a word for us.
Signs you’re a webtrovert:
- You’re generally quite outgoing and sociable on the internet, & generally a little less so in ‘real life’
- Twitter & wine > pub with friends
- You regularly turn to your internet friends for support, advice and/or validation
- You’d rather tackle conversations with strangers via email than on the phone
- You make friends more easily online than in real life
- You refill and recharge by scrolling on your phone
Now bear in mind I’m no sociologist and I’ve essentially just made this up, but I still think I’m onto something. Because Twitter and Insta and email and texts – they’re all just as valid forms of human communication as talking face to face. They’re just newer, and therefore maybe our classification system doesn’t really have a space for them yet.
Add to that the erosion of community, everyone working increasingly long hours and the brilliance of being able to find people with your exact same interests online, and it seems perfectly sensible that so many of us find the technology makes life nicer.
In the ‘real world’, extroverts tend to rule the roost. They speak first, assert themselves more easily, don’t hang back from sharing their ideas or thoughts, while the introverts are quietly wondering whether they’ll look stupid putting their hand up. Often as an introvert in social or professional groups, I’ve felt left out, left behind or under-represented. Ideals and standards are set by the vocal majority, and they tend to comprise of more of those extroverted folks.
Online, it’s a more level playing field; a virtual world where more of us can flourish, and it’s fascinating to watch it unfold. In fact, I think it’s really the core of my business – women like me, who’ve always found it hard to be seen, finding a voice for themselves on the internet.