In an article about disclosure when writing online, author Roxane Gay includes the following explanation of what being an introvert online means to her:
“For me, one of the biggest draws of the Internet has always been how I can be alone and yet find connection with other people. I am an introvert. I can fake extroversion, but it is exhausting. I prefer quiet, even when I am happily around other people. I spend an inordinate amount of time in my head. Online, I can be in my head and with interesting people. I can be alone but feel less lonely.”
A fantastic explanation! Because, in general, introverts do not hate people (that’s misanthropy), nor do they fear social encounters (that’s shyness). Because introverts are not bogeymen.
One of the differences between introverts and extroverts is that introverts recharge by being alone and extroverts recharge by spending time with people. Conversely, spending time with people exhausts introverts and being alone can be uncomfortable for extroverts. This tends to make introverts – the minority – to be misunderstood.
It is hard to explain why alone time is so important in such a way that extroverts can relate to. It is not about social competence. It is about social energy. Whiskeypants’s metaphor (although it applies to an introvert who dates an extrovert) is very clear and helpful:
“Imagine that the way you recharge is through sleep.
“You try to sleep every day, but you can only get an average of about an hour with an absolute maximum of 2-3.
“Even when you lie down to sleep, you know that, no matter where you are, you will be woken up by the person you live with.
“Imagine that, day after day, week after week, month after month. This is what alone time is to me, to my brain, to my emotional buffers and my ability to enjoy time with you, with my friends, and out and about.”
Nail on the head.