After spending the 20th century in relative silence, introverts are poised to rule the Interactive Age.
Social media has changed the way we communicate. The extroverted approach to communication in the 20th century—one-size-fits-all programming, in-your-face advertising, and dictatorial monologues—has been replaced by a more thoughtful and empathetic discourse that involves listening to the ideas of others, engaging in dialogue, offering comments and opinions, and sharing interesting content.
And no one is better prepared for this communication revolution than introverts. Here are the eight reasons why introverts will rule the Interactive Age:
1. Introverts create remarkable content. Content is the currency of social media, and nobody writes better than introverts. Introverts are highly observant by nature. While extroverts are talking, introverts are watching, thinking, processing. This–combined with the fact introverts have the willpower (heck, the desire) needed to be alone with only their thoughts for hours at a time–makes many of them uniquely gifted storytellers.
2. Introverts get right to the point. At eight seconds, our average attention span is shorter than that of a goldfish. And when we’re online, we make that goldfish look like a Russian chess master. To succeed online, you need to get to the point quickly without sacrificing creativity. Having spent their entire lives avoiding small talk, introverts are experts at cutting through discussions about the weather and getting right to the issues that matter.
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3. Introverts build strong relationships (with selected people and communities). Social media has divided our world into countless communities that exchange ideas and information based on shared beliefs and interests. Successful social media engagement is not defined by how many friends you have on Facebook, but how strong your connection is with the communities you care about.
Because they are naturally empathetic, observant, and good listeners, introverts are masters at building strong relationships. But those same qualities—which can be quite exhausting—also limit the number of people and communities introverts choose to build relationships with. So they tend to invest heavily in the relationships that are special to them, making those engagements all the more meaningful.
4. Introverts will share the stage. Social media is about sharing—sharing your ideas and opinions; sharing the ideas and opinions of others with your friends; and sharing your website with guest bloggers. Introverts are experts at sharing, especially when it involves ideas. Because introverts live in their heads, they are fascinated by new ideas. And they’ve long since discovered that you’ll come across new ideas faster by listening than by talking. So given the chance, an introvert will happily share the social-media stage with you.
5. Introverts will share your content. The hardest thing for an extrovert to learn about social media is that it’s not “about me.” It’s “about us.” And the key to making your social media “about us” is to comment on and share remarkable content created by others. Introverts by their very nature are givers. The minute they walk into a room with at least one other person in it, they are giving their attention, emotions, and energy to that person, often without the other person realizing it (especially if she is an extrovert). Introverts will reflexively share remarkable content with their friends because they are givers—and because it is so much less tiring than giving away their energy.
6. Introverts are authentic and transparent. On the Internet, everyone knows when you’re lying. Transparency and authenticity trump flash and pizazz every single time. And while this new truth-in-advertising ethos is crippling the most successful extroverts of the 20th century, it is proving to a boon for introverts, who quite honestly have a hard enough time mustering up the energy for a truthful conversation, let alone a deceitful one. Their lifetime of being candid and honest has honed their conversation skills, making them charismatic and diplomatic storytellers–traits that social media rewards.
7. Introverts are extremely comfortable with online relationships. Lock an extrovert in a room with nothing but a laptop and Internet service and pretty soon you’ll be replacing the door he kicked open. Introverts, on the other hand, can practically live online. For some it is the solution to a lifetime of wanting to share ideas, thoughts, and dreams with close friends … who are nowhere near them. As a result, the Internet has transformed many introverts into the Dale Carnegies of the online world. They share ideas, connect friends, and share the best websites–all while sitting in their yoga pants and sweatshirt in the safety and comfort of their bedroom.
8. Introverts invented the Internet.