The Importance of Social Media for Introverts

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Quiet: The Power of Introverts" by Susan Cain. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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What is the importance of social media for introverts? How can going online make communication easier?

Social media, for introverts, may be preferable to in-person communication. It allows distance and reflection before responding that can make connecting more comfortable.

Keep reading for more about the benefits of social media for introverts.

The Benefits of Social Media for Introverts

Technology and the internet have created a new, non-face-to-face environment for communicating, in which introverts may excel as leaders. Social media for introverts can also enable a form of leadership different from the Harvard Business School model.

For instance, introvert Craig Newmark has successfully connected millions of people through his online platform Craigslist. Besides being a place to exchange services, his website functions as a sort of public commons. It connected stranded people with help during Hurricane Katrina and helped people find rides during New York City’s 2005 transit strike. Newmark has written that his site has the ability to connect people “to fix the world.”

The online world lets introverts play a more social role than they’re uncomfortable with in person. Studies have shown that introverts are more likely than extroverts to provide personal facts about themselves online and enter into certain online discussions. In addition, they’re more likely to say they can express who they really are online. 

The online environment may yield better results for some activities by allowing introverts to communicate effectively without being overshadowed by more talkative types. For instance, consider how differently Harvard’s Subarctic Survival exercise might turn out if extrovert and introvert opinions got equal time. 

Fueled by the Internet

The trends of corporate teams, open offices, and cooperative learning in schools were fueled by the rise of the Internet and lessons drawn from it.

The internet demonstrated the power of collaboration. Shared intelligence and creativity produced resources such as Wikipedia, the open-source operating system Linux, and the grassroots political organization MoveOn.org. Successful collaborations like these, whose results exceeded the sum of their parts, created enthusiasm for the so-called wisdom of the crowd or hive mind. 

The success of online collaboration reinforced the belief in the value of face-to-face collaboration and teamwork in workplaces and schools. However, proponents of teamwork and open-office transparency didn’t consider that online collaboration works differently from in-person collaboration—in-person interactions are more susceptible to Groupthink in problem-solving and to style over substance. 

Online Brainstorming

In contrast to brainstorming in a group meeting, brainstorming online can be effective.

When brainstorming online, well-managed groups are more effective than individuals at coming up with viable ideas. Unlike face-to-face brainstorming, research shows that the larger the online brainstorming group, the better it does. The same applies to online collaboration on academic research. Professors who work together online produce research that has greater impact than the work of those meeting face-to-face or working alone.

The Importance of Social Media for Introverts

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  • How society overvalues extroverts
  • Why introverts' overlooked strengths are the key to greater success in work, school, and society
  • How extroversion caused the fall of Enron

Rina Shah

An avid reader for as long as she can remember, Rina’s love for books began with The Boxcar Children. Her penchant for always having a book nearby has never faded, though her reading tastes have since evolved. Rina reads around 100 books every year, with a fairly even split between fiction and non-fiction. Her favorite genres are memoirs, public health, and locked room mysteries. As an attorney, Rina can’t help analyzing and deconstructing arguments in any book she reads.

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