Relationships

Anti-Social Networking Why Social Media Isn't So Social

I was messaging a friend on Facebook the other night and she asked if I was on every social network ever created. Yup! (Not really.) We laughed about Twitter because we both spend long hours on our computers - it would be the most boring Twitter you ever saw, consisting of trips to get snacks, go to the bathroom, etc. I have a hard enough time changing my status on facebook: Valerie is trying to think up some clever status entry.

I commented to my buddy that I’m really an introvert who uses social networks to create the illusion of being social. Truthfully, I don’t have much in common with most, but I appreciate them. I spend quite a bit of time on my computer and on the web because I’m a graphic/web designer. I like being in the house but unlike most introverts, I like being out too – but only if it’s with family, good friends or around good people. My mother called me a hermit and I’m often told, “you should get out more.” Oh yeah? And what if I don’t? Huh? Huh? Will I turn into a troll? I think, “I’ll show them!” and I drive 18 minutes to Walmart and walk around. There. I’m out.

What many people don’t get (and I don’t explain) is that I like my solitude. I like being alone with my thoughts, scheming up ideas and vibin’ to some good music. But here it goes:

“Hello, my name is Valerie, and I’m…*sigh* anti-social.” (Hiiii, Valerie.)

God Bless the Introvert

What kills me is that we’ve been taught that there’s something wrong with us if we don’t want or need to constantly engage. My personality is such that I’m not high on that need and I refuse to make excuses or apologies for it – like I lack social graces or have bad programming. I’ve never followed the status quo and I’m not going to go and ruin my track record now. Unfortunately, others assume I (or people like me) don’t care. Simply not true.

I get lonely from time to time, just like everybody else but I also like being in my own space. It’s not a defense mechanism or security blanket. I’m not afraid of the “big bad world”. I’m more of a realist than anyone would suspect. I think, I plan, I put things in motion – I just don’t blab it to anyone who will listen. I’m quiet around people I don’t know, because I’m listening. My powers of observation tell me all kinds of things about people. I’m not overly shy. I don’t cringe if I have to speak in front of people or talk to someone I don’t know.

I had someone else tell me that I need to, “Get out and have more fun…” I seriously thought about why they said that and the response I gave was:  I make my own fun. Seriously. I design, I code, I write, I sing, I make videos… because I figured it out: when I’m creating, I’m truly happy. Get out and have fun! Hmmm, okay, let’s see – what does that mean? Endure egos and negative attitudes with limited or zero intellectual stimulation? Go hang around a bunch of people I don’t really like for the sake of being social? Um, that’s not my idea of fun. When I do interact, my “circle of influence” is not a mashup of randomness. And as the saying goes, “If you don’t like the people around you, change the people around you.”

Doing Too Much

Even when I lived in the second largest city in NY (Buffalo), I rarely went out. I don’t really date, though I tried when I lived in Westchester. Yuck – that’s a whole ‘nother section. When I lived in White Plains, the most I went out was to happy hour or networking events. Otherwise, it was the grocery store, the drug store, bank and post office and an occasional dinner outing or movie. I wasn’t trying to “hook up” every where I went. The club scene was wack and violent. I went to a club one time and was almost trampled when a fight broke out… it scared the crap out of me and I took it as a message to stay out of the club. When I went to church, I honestly went to praise/worship my God and receive the Word.

So, yes, you can find me on many of the popular social networking sites. I post photos, video and the occasional blog. There are folks I message regularly and I genuinely like them, but I’m really not that social. Someone summed this up for me recently when they said, “Yeah, I don’t really like people.” I fell out. I never heard anyone say it out loud. I understand completely why they said it. It’s not that we don’t like people. We just abhor pretense. We have no choice but to deal with some people – at work, school, etc. We choose to deal with others. For many, the latter group is a lot smaller. Why? It’s takes WORK and patience to maintain social relationships and in some cases, you tire of working or find yourself repeatedly disappointed.

Is the answer avoidance? Hecksno. I don’t believe that because I’ve met some incredible people in my lifetime. We can make conscious choices about who we let in our circle. Still, I had to wonder if I’m an oddity by societal standards so last week, I went online to read about anti-social behavior. I discovered all kinds of mental health issues tied to social behavior but had no real symptoms therefore, I maintain my innocence. I have never been truly selfish when it comes to ME and what I want/need, but I’m doing that now. I’m doing ME. Can’t fault me for autonomy. I gotta be meeee! No one else can live my life and my decisions are for my peace of mind and betterment.

I was compelled to put this into words because I know people question my judgment. It has nothing to do with you and everything to do with what I have to do for me – even if it seems anti-social.

Retreating into my cave for the time being. I got Internet access and snacks. I’m Good.

Originally Written: December 14, 2008

OneHipSista

Hi. I'm Valerie. Glad you're here – come on in and sit a spell. I've never put so much of my writing online but I share my personal experiences in hopes that I help someone in some way. I hope you find something you read thought-provoking, amusing or encouraging. Reach out or comment if you like. Please forgive the typos, grammar and cussing. Thanks for stopping by.

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