Navigating a Nightmare
Though interpersonal interaction may not be your strong suit, rewarding online engagement is just a click away with these five tips.
By Daniel Nguyen, Hofstra University
In the mass tech age of 2016, nearly everyone is using social media for both personal and professional means.
Whether it be the ubiquitous selfie or the integration of companies into their employees’ lives, social media is more endemic than ever before. Indeed, whole career sectors have popped up around the communication medium. In this environment of social surfeit, it doesn’t seem like there’s any way back. But whether you suffer from debilitating shyness or find yourself overthinking your selfies a tad too often, there are easy, practical solutions to implement that can ease the challenges of using social media.
So for anyone introverted, shy or a victim of social awkwardness, here are five simple ways to put yourself out there.
First, don’t think of social media as another avenue for cynicism. The majority of social media users these days use it as a way to put the external joys of life into a more accessible form. Under this loose method, social media has become a platform for stories of human triumph and evidence of each other’s dining experiences. Although online bullying and the sour side of the internet certainly exist, much of the internet Goliaths, including Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram, are based on personal connections that we make ourselves, shrinking down the pool of potential antipathy to sectioned portals of easily avoidable goop (e.g. Youtube comments). Taking this perspective transforms the uncertainty of social media into a natural extension of conversation with family and friends.
2. The Social Media Jungle
A significant element of social media is its ability to feature your own public persona. It’s almost the purpose of the medium, and many have taken to it. For many people, building an image comes naturally and can bring joy. But, this tendency to enjoy sharing the quotidian details of one’s life might be lost on introverts. In fact, the exact opposite might be true.
Engaging in the sharing of personal details with the wider public is the last thing introverts are looking for, but social media encourages exactly that. The result? An endless abundance of selfies, status updates and shares.
In this jungle of social media, it’s hard to navigate a course that allows you to express yourself in a comfortable manner. For those seeking to overcome the neurotic habit of over-examining social media, consider the nature of the medium. Remembering the non-stop abundance of content should help mollify any sense you have of overexposure. In a way, the inundation of content on Facebook and other sites provides you with a cover, a kind of canopy to shade yourself from too much sun exposure.
3. Going Out While Staying at Home
One of the handy perks of having some semblance of social media literacy is the ability (or superpower) to connect with the world while remaining separate from its unpredictability, a homebody’s dream. As already noted, it can be intimidating to engage with the world at your fingertips. But the promise of social media, most crucial to introverts, is that you don’t have to participate.
Your preference for social interaction and alone time is balanced within your own known limits, so finding time to awkwardly shift out of a protracted conversation never has to be a problem.
Basically, while social media provides limitless possibilities for connection, your level of engagement is yours to control, creating a safe space to be social without leaving your own parameters of comfort.
4. Embracing the Cringe
While social media can provide introverts with the incredible privilege to engage and disengage from social interactions at their own behest, sometimes letting the many instances of boring, unpleasant and awkward quirks of interpersonal conversation seep through the cracks of comfort can be beneficial. While social awkwardness through online platforms is mitigated by the removal of face-to-face interaction, it can still rear its mortifying head in all kinds of weird ways. Sometimes this can take form via an incorrect status update, or with an embarrassing accidental sharing of a link that might be out of line with your public persona. Whichever way, working to embrace the cringe of social interactions online can help translate to an easier acceptance of the same incidents outside of screens. Most importantly, it’ll help you learn to enjoy venturing outside of your comfort zone once in awhile. Potentially, social media can allow people to experiment with their comfort zones in an environment that’s designated by their own personal preferences.
5. Take the Plunge
A major concern for many social media users, even those without a preternatural tendency for social anxiety, is the medium’s permanency. As noted before, there’s the problematic fact that after you share a piece of yourself to the aether of the internet, it’s likely to stay there, open to the eyes of all your coworkers, friends, family, peers and future descendants forever, making each post a possible grave marker. Although this melodrama describes a heightened sense of social concern, getting past the initial step of sharing your life can still be difficult. With the ability to stay at home and venture out, social media’s canopy of content, the cringe-y aftermath of accidental posts and the familiar eyes of family and friends, take the plunge into unknown potential. It’s just a click away.