I was never the popular girl. There was a time in middle school when I ran around with five friends: Amy, Lori, Leeanna, Kristi, and Missy. But Amy was my best friend. (Except for the times when Leeanna was my best friend.) Five was always the maximum, and even then, I felt more comfortable with one or two. Never would you find me happily interacting with dozens of people.
Throughout high school and college, my friend groups swelled and receded, as I assume is part of life. And never have I thrived on being the center of attention, on being surrounded by people. Give me my little circle of friends. Give me one or two individuals with whom I connect. That’s all I want.
Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram (and yes, WordPress) — these technologies make it easier to “connect” with a much larger group of people. Maybe even people I’ve never met and never will meet in real life. (Hi, strangers!) Is this connecting?
I’m spending my weekend at a writing conference, and quite a few of the writers (novelists, poets, writers of memoir) have talked about the importance of connecting with others online. And I get that. In our modern culture, with so many people attached to their phones and tablets, this is what is expected. You can’t expect to sell a book (especially a memoir) if no one knows who you are. You can’t have an audience if you don’t write in a format that an audience wants. If you don’t write to connect, then why are you writing?
But I like being invisible sometimes. I don’t wanna put myself out there for the whole world to see. After all, it’s not real connection, these social media “friendships.”
Maybe it is a method that introverts like me (who, if given the opportunity, would stay in my house for weeks on end, meeting with no one) can expand horizons and connect with others while avoiding the overstimulation of people in my face. Maybe it is a way I can reach out and have a larger impact on my world than I would if I simply remained the hermit I like to be. Maybe social media serve as a bridge for me to cross the divide between isolation and community.
Even that is uncomfortable for me, and besides that, I don’t really know how I feel about it.
Please comment if you have a thought about this topic. Maybe you’ll help me figure it out.