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Social media is terrible for introverts

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I've been thinking a lot lately about Twitter. That shouldn’t be much of a surprise, since it’s my job and all, but bear with me.

How I use Twitter has changed a lot over the last five years. I haven’t dug into my archive much beyond my first couple of months, but it’s safe to say I didn’t talk shop very much. It was all personal nonsense.

These days, I’m probably straddling a 50/50 ratio of personal tweets and work stuff. It’s been a natural, slow shift. I need to use Twitter for work, but I’m reluctant to let it slide into a duller, bidness-only thing.

I’m not entirely sure what my followers want from me.

I have old friends, family members, my peers, people I admire, and complete strangers among my 940 or so followers. That’s a hell of a mix, and I don’t always know if they’re interested in my work, me, or just want a follow back.

I’m becoming anxious about sending some tweets, becoming more self-aware about what blabbing I plan to shoot out into the [I’m-not-calling-it-the-twittersphere-because-that’s-a-God-awful-term]. I’m increasingly self-conscious about what I’m doing, and no matter how much I might think I’m above caring what people think about me, I’m actually desperately seeking your approval.

I’m not really sure I’m all that funny anymore. I’m not sure I ever was in the first place, and I’m less confident I am now.

I like to make people laugh, but the lack of faves and retweets I’m getting on tweets I’m pleased with myself for writing is making me reconsider what I’m saying, agonizing over the right wording for ages. (PLEASE GIVE ME ALL YOUR FAVES AND RETWEETS FOR THAT SWEET SWEET DOPAMINE, THOUGH.)

I look at where my peers are, and how they seem to effortlessly blend being on Twitter 24/7 with writing compelling, thoughtful stories for their publications. I’m not sure I’m wired that way, nor am I sure I want to be. I find it difficult to focus on more than one thing at a time. When I’m writing, I find having a TweetDeck column at the edge of my screen distracting. Playing music while I’m working may as well be a loop of a cat screeching as it steps on a rusty nail. I admire those who can multitask really effectively, and occasionally wish I could emulate that. At other times, I’m glad I focus on one thing at a time.

All of this to say, I’m thinking more carefully about how I use Twitter, whether it’s what I’m tweeting, how I’m using lists, how I’m using it for work, or who I’m following and talking with.

The most important thing I need to be more careful with is my tone. I’m probably joking about 70 percent of the time, and I’m not always sure my humor is getting across. I need to be more mindful of that, I think.

I also need to reply more often to interesting people. I’m painfully shy at times. It can take me a long time and several meetings to really start talking with someone in real life. That’s something I’m trying to get past. It’s not particuarly easy for a natural introvert. I’m trying to do the same thing on Twitter.

I’m laid-back and friendly and I hope that comes across clearly. I don’t want to appear to be a cynical asshole about everything, because that’s not who I am, or at least not who I want to be. I’ve always thought of myself as positive and upbeat and want that side of myself to come across a little better.

I certainly still want to be myself and be upfront about my opinions. But that doesn’t come without its pitfalls. There are a number of topics I avoid opining on completely, more through necessity than choice. I can't appear biased on certain matters.

But that’s tough, since I often find myself gritting my teeth when all I want to do is tell about How Awful This Thing Is and believe one’s feelings will affect objectivity in almost all situations, no matter how we might try to mask it.

Maybe this is all too navel-gazey. Maybe I’m psychoanalyzing myself through the lens of how I use Twitter. Still, all this is on my mind a lot these days, and I guess I’m asking for advice.

God forbid this be viewed as a “social media strategy.” Those three words together, in that order, make me want to go boil my head in a pot of onions.

Hang on while I go tweet this into the echo chamber.
 

Photo via Miss Vichan/Flickr