An Introvert in a Digital Extrovert’s Clothing

Have I Been an Introvert in a Digital Extrovert's Clothing?

Chronic moaners aside, we live in an extrovert’s and optimist’s world. Posts saying “look at this amazing thing” are more attractive than “I did a thing, look if you want”. Charismatic, outspoken leaders gain more attention than calmer, pragmatic ones. Going out with lots of friends, or being encouraged to talk about problems in groups, or meeting new people can often be suggested as solutions to various issues. That’s not to say that it is never true – it’s not just not the answer for everyone. It has been a long while since I wrote my post on Introversion and Fibromyalgia, but while I was on a content break recently a question came to mind: Have I forced myself to be a “Digital Extrovert”?

I’m an Introvert and I’m Okay

Great, I now have I’m a lumberjack and I’m okay in my head. Anyway…

It will be forever etched into my memory the time I was explaining my character traits to a family friend. I said “I’m an introvert” and the (very much extroverted) friend replied “oh don’t say things like that!” I am an introvert and that’s okay, it is not a negative character trait.

A different friend once defined an introvert as

Someone who gains energy from time alone

And that is definitely me. I need loads of alone time to prepare for time with other people – even longer periods of family time. But the thing is I need a lot of alone time to cope with a short period of interaction with others. That doesn’t mean I’m always introspective – thinking about myself too much, which is maybe where some people get confused. But it means I need to “pre-rest” and also “post-rest” when social time is required.

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I is FJ, ISFJ

While there are various “personality type” tests, I compared one that my wife’s psychology studies said to test (not because it endorsed it but because it was one that looked at many factors) against @16Personalities and the underlying scores roughly matched. You can make your own judgement.

I’m Still ISFJ

It was with no small amusement that, years since I first took the 16Personalities.com test, I still come out as ISFJ – yep, I is FJ! In fact, even the introduction to this character set reads as fairly accurate. The ISFJ “Defender” avatar wields and sword and shield. Maybe that’s why I prefer that style of combat in all my MMOs?

ISFJ Strengths

By 16personalities.com

  • Supportive
  • Reliable and Patient
  • Imaginative and Observant
  • Loyal & Hard-working
  • Practical Skills

ISFJ Weaknesses

By 16personalities.com

  • Humble and Shy
  • Take Things Too Personally
  • Repress Their Feelings
  • Overlook Themselves / Too Altruistic
  • Reluctant to Change

Read ISFJ Personality

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A Digital Extrovert?

My personality type contains a few in-built contradictions that may explain my “digital extrovert” self. What do I mean by that? My self-adopted definition is:

Someone who is more comfortable portraying an outgoing personality online than they would be with an in-person scenario.

Having thought about this during my content break, I feel like I’ve maybe been going down this route. I’ll explain.

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I Have Not Been Consistent

All this is alright, except when it comes to my online presence, I think. Sure, I tweet about my chronic pain and even my depression. However, thinking about it, the rules I apply to myself in the physical world, have not been in action online. Here’s why:

1. Social Media is Still Social

It sounds like a circular definition. Although useful for publicising content, events and products, Social Media was not originally developed as advertising or broadcast media. It was supposed to be a communication platform, designed to speed up and maybe deepen interactions between people. Even now, most of my Twitter time is spent talking to people, which is the right way to be I think.

But because it’s based on my computer (or phone) it is easy to forget that it is still energy spent with other people. Although you don’t have the confined space, or someone else’s home (remember those days?) that comes with interacting near someone, digital interaction still involves mental energy. This also includes using in-game chats.

Is Computer Chatting More Demanding?

In one sense, it’s even more draining than being in the same room as someone, because you cannot rely on non-verbal communication signals – facial expressions and body language. I don’t know the real term, but with text communication you also lose “sub-vocal” signals – tone and emphasis, even if capitals, bold text and emoji are used.

So, despite being a (comfortable) introvert, I’ve been forgetting that “social energy” is as required as face-to-face meetings. This contradiction may be down to ISFJs being

Naturally social, an odd quality for introverts

It’s like I want to be sociable but it exacts a huge price on my energy and pain. Great, just great.

2. “Everything Is Awesome-itis”

I’m a content creator. At least in written, blog-form. I don’t have concentration and energy to make videos and I had to give up streaming a long time ago because of pain and energy. But when producing new blog posts, I naturally want people to find them useful – which means they first have to read the stuff. Between you and me, which admittedly is not exactly a closed circle on a public website, often finishing a post comes with relief. But if I tweet

Thank goodness that’s over, here’s something I made.

People will hardly be inspired to actually read it! So the temptation is what I’m going to call Everything-is-Awesome-itis: the inflammation of a projected enthusiasm!

Exuding Confidence I Don’t Have

Now, I don’t publish anything I think is of a poor quality, but my use of exclamation marks, encouragements to click, happy smilies bely my actual low self-esteem. The reason is I feel that projecting energy and positivity is needed – and I suck at sales pitches. I feel like I have to be a Digital Extrovert when publishing new content – put myself “out there”, talk to people or gaming studios about my content – occasionally even (gasp) request someone retweets. None of these things come naturally to my introverted soul.

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But I’ve Also Retreated Some

Some time ago, I clocked which topics were already being written about that I had planned to blog myself – and by who. Spanning LOTRO and SWTOR, most of those content creators either were, or had projected, extroversion. Some were helped either by having large followings or had their (I hasten to add, excellent) content amplified by “higher up” influencers. Most also had the mental and social energy to keep producing content more than I could with chronic pain and symptoms of chronic fatigue.

The end result was a withdrawal from blogging about certain topics. My ability to project positivity is not greater than my physical energy, at the end of the day.

So, if I think I’m being a “Digital Extrovert”, there are limitations to that.

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Digital Extrovert is Not Who I Am

So, what to do? My time away from social media and content producing has made me realise how tiring constant communication is. From around 2pm ish most days until 11pm – often later – I have been tweeting regularly, interrupting my writing or gaming to share something. And that can be okay, but it comes at a cost to me – that of rest and energy drain. I am an introvert (and that’s still okay) but I need to marry up the implications of that both on- and off the computer.

Pre and Post Rest

Halros Resting on the Grass in the Shire - LOTRO
The first thing is to make sure I do “pre-rest”. While I usually don’t start tweeting until the afternoon, I often do my first tweet on the back of housework and some sort of productivity. This is not pre-rest. So I need to give myself space for that.

And tweeting until I shut my computer down undermines my evening rest of gaming purely to play. So I need a cut-off point that way too.

Be How I Feel

A sad, dejected Hunter in FFXIV
I don’t intend to say bad things about my content – I’ve usually tried to fix things ahead of publishing them! But maybe I could make my announcements more representative of me – highlight the reasons I think the post is helpful to people, but don’t try to be overbearingly positive, just in case that helps people click through.

I want to thank the many of you who do chat with me when I tweet about how tough things are. It means a lot to have friends like that. But I’m also aware that within seconds of a post about the day’s pain levels I can be announcing new content with fanfares and huge-grin emoticons. That’s a tad hypocritical, I’m sorry. I will try to be more transparent and less roller-coastery.

TL;DR Not a Digital Extrovert, but Positive Introvert?

Being an introvert doesn’t inevitably make someone more grumpy, especially if you’re at peace with being an introvert. The fact I am medicated for diagnosed depression is not linked to my introversion, though that can lead to me to focus too much on my emotions.

So, I ask you, friends, if my tweets within moments have inconsistent tones, call me out on it. If I’ve tweeted loads in a day and should go rest on my own, call me out on it. I’m not a digital extrovert, or any other kind of extrovert. I am an introvert who wants to talk to people (but not necessarily be with them, or see their faces!), but gets overly drained from doing so. I will try to be a positive introvert instead, while being honest when I hate pain to dark side degrees. I’m an introvert – and that’s okay. I’m ISFJ – and that’s okay too. I just need to be me, which apparently I’ve not been very good at!


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Fibro Jedi

A 30-something Shadow Jedi, married and have a small daughter. By that I mean "young", not just "short". I have a chronic pain condition called Fibromyalgia andI play LOTRO, SWTOR and FFXIV and blog about two of them. Social Media has connected me with so many people and some of those have become amazing friends too! As a hobby I am relearning drawing, which you can see on my DeviantArt profile.