In Search of a More Silent Internet
Victoria Dahl has a lovely post about the way Internet communities can make many people feel tired, stressed, or overwhelmed. (Or at least that’s what I got from it.)
I’m sure there are some extroverts on the Internet, as the Internet is ubiquitous. But, extroverts are probably spending a lot more time out with friends and just update their Facebooks from their phones to tell us all the awesome things they are doing right now.
My guess is that most of the more “hardcore” Internet users are, in fact, Introverts. I’ve talked about being an introvert on my blog before. I was actually surprised to learn that I was one. And I didn’t learn it until my twenties. I didn’t fit a lot of the stereotypes about an introvert. While I can be shy in certain social situations, often I am not. I can be loud and gregarious in a social situation and end up with quite a group around me. And I like it… for a little while. But only a little while.
Too much is too much and it drains the fuck out of me. The Internet thrives in a constant state of too-muchness.
Growing up I was always trying to be this person that I wasn’t because I thought it was what I was or was supposed to be but had this or that obstruction in my path that was masking my real personality. Because I didn’t fit the “standard” list of Introvert behaviors for a lot of things, it took me a long time to figure it out. My own MOTHER didn’t even realize I was an introvert either. Though my best friend was like “Duh. Of course you’re an introvert.”
Despite the fact that I have always kept a very small circle of close friends and get overwhelmed with much more than that… I like being at home and don’t like running around ALL THE TIME and some other fairly big clues… it’s something a lot of people miss if they see me in a social situation where I don’t appear socially awkward.
My brother? He’s an extrovert. He’s always out and being social and hanging out in large groups of people and doing stuff. It energizes him. He’s into the outside world. I’m into the inner world. It’s pretty common among writers, actually.
On the Internet, I think a lot of introverts think it’s a place they can be more extroverted. But I think a lot of us find it equally draining, if not more so. In the real world if you’re at a party or social gathering and you get overwhelmed, you can step outside or go home. There is that very clear division.
The Internet is always on. It’s always going. And there’s always a drama or controversy somewhere. And I don’t like it. I fucking hate it.
I decided about a year and a half ago to really start withdrawing from the “larger Internet.”
I have a blog, but I don’t allow comments on it. (I do still allow comments on my other pen name’s blog because most of the commenters are readers of the fiction and at this point it just has a quieter vibe to it.) I have a Twitter and a Facebook fan page, but not a regular Facebook profile with a friend list. And I follow under 250 people on Twitter.
I don’t participate on Goodreads (except to reply to someone who has directly contacted me or to post a new book release announcement.)
I don’t participate on other people’s blogs or forums or discussion groups.
Basically I keep a much lower profile than I used to because the way I was going about my life before was stressing me out and making me unhappy. It was overwhelming the shit out of me. It was crowding out my creativity and ability to write and publish. It was fucking up my productivity. It was keeping other people and their judgment on my shoulder ALL the time.
If I argued with someone they suddenly “hated me”. People thought I was mean for stating opinions even though I didn’t call people names while doing it. But I disagreed with someone. OH GOD NO! Not that!
So I just got fed up. If people only want to wank to the sound of agreement, then let them. I don’t want to be involved. The Internet has a LOT of different people with different viewpoints coming together as strangers to rant and rave about all their opinions with the deeply held internal conviction that they are right and everybody else is wrong. And if somebody is WRONG on the Internet well… that’s a serious problem. That’s like the war on terrorism. You have to ACT. You have to do something, make a stand, let your voice be heard. (Or at least people act like it’s that dire.)
Well fuck that. I became a writer to tell stories and share them with readers, but I am the type of person who gets completely overwhelmed in certain situations. I fought to be someone I wasn’t because I didn’t want to appear socially incompetent, like I couldn’t ‘handle’ this or that. But whether or not I can handle it is neither here nor there. The true question is… how does it make me feel? If something makes me feel overwhelmed, stressed, and unhappy… I don’t need it in my life.
I’ve found that “the larger Internet” fits that category. I just don’t want to be involved in everybody’s drama. I don’t care about the latest feeding frenzy. It’s too much crap and too much noise.