Extroverts + validation are like peanut butter + jelly.
As a writer, I have a public Facebook page I work hard to keep active and engaging. Social media is simply part of my job, and I generally enjoy it. I've made friends and connections through that page over the years, and I've found that it's one of the best ways to discuss any number of topics with people who have a wide range of views.
But if you were to take a peek at my private Facebook page, you would see something different entirely — usage that is far more representative of me and my introverted personality.
Because that's the thing — people always seem to assume that introverts aren't capable of being social or outgoing. It's simply not true, and the juxtaposition between my private and public Facebook pages serves as evidence of that.
I'm perfectly capable of being outgoing and social, especially on social media. But when left to my own devices, that's just not the direction I lean toward.
Perhaps because of this juxtaposition, I'm keenly aware of how I use Facebook and the fact that the way I manage my private page is much different from how many of my friends manage their own pages. In examining those differences, I've realized that they exist mainly with my extroverted friends. My self-proclaimed introverted friends tend to have Facebook habits similar to my own, assuming they're even online at all (many of them aren't).
There's no science to this (though I would love to see someone do a study!), but these are the differences I've noticed in how introverts and extroverts use social media.
1. Keeping in contact
Introverts: Only friend their actual friends.
When it comes to my personal Facebook page, my "friends" number is pretty darn low compared to other people. We're talking double digits. I very intentionally limit my friend list, only friending and accepting the people I actually consider myself to be close with.
To me, outside of business, social media is a way to keep in touch with the people I love — the friends and family I may not get to see all the time, but still have a genuine relationship with. I don't particularly care to have my feed cluttered up with updates from acquaintances.
It's not that I'm cold or don't care; I would rather focus my time and energy on my close ties. It's the total introverted mentality of having a tight-knit circle of friends, rather than a wide, expansive group of acquaintances.
Extroverts: Take a "the more the merrier" approach and friend everybody.
Meanwhile, my more extroverted friends are the ones who consider their friends list to be a free for all. They have friend counts up into the thousands, and don't think twice about sending a friend request to someone they've just met, to someone they haven't spoken to in 20 years, or to a friend of a friend they don't even know (but whose comments they've seen and liked). Extroverts are all about expanding that network!
Introverts: Keep their profile fairly private.
I've noticed that most introverts tend to keep their privacy settings locked down. I know I do, and I'm constantly checking to ensure those settings haven't changed. If you're not my "friend," you can't see anything I post. I won't even join private Facebook groups, mostly because I hate that they force you to join with a personal account, and that doing so inevitably leads to random strangers friend requesting you.
Extroverts: Have nothing to hide.
My extroverted friends, though? Their privacy settings are often set to public, or at the very least, to friends of friends. They're completely comfortable with remaining more open, perhaps in the hopes of making even more friends along the way.
3. The importance of likes
Introverts: Aren't in it for the likes.
I post pretty infrequently on my private page these days, and the vast majority of what I do share is pictures. So when I share something, I don't think much about how many people are "liking" or commenting on it. I'm usually just sharing so that those who might want to see what's going on in my life, can.
Extroverts: Counting on the validation.
I have a handful of extroverted friends who definitely seem to care about those likes, though. To the extent that they will call you out on it the next time you're face to face if you didn't like something they posted.
Some even like their own posts, presumably because they think doing so will lead to more people seeing it. Or they'll talk about wanting to delete something because not enough people liked it. They're online specifically for the connections, so when those connections don't come in the numbers they were hoping for, they notice.
For the record, I don't think there's anything wrong with this; it's just interesting that there seems to be a different set of priorities that bring people online.
4. Friend requests
Introverts: May ignore your friend request.
Right at this moment, I have 35 unanswered friend requests. I tend to shy away from requests that come from people I don't know extremely well (which includes that acquaintance from high school I may have shared 10 words with back then, and haven’t spoken to since). It just makes me uncomfortable. If we've never even had a one on one conversation, why would you need regular updates on my life?
Extroverts: Don't even try to place where they know you from.
On the other hand, my extroverted friends don't even think twice about hitting "accept." They view social media as a way to connect and network, and that desire to connect and network extends to just about everyone they know. So if you're requesting to be their friend, they're all about letting you in.
5. Deleting friends
Introvert: Will delete you in a heartbeat.
Along those same lines, I might eventually delete you. Especially if I feel like I have to accept your friend request to avoid being rude, but there isn't any real connection between us (which happens occasionally, usually with friends of friends I'm afraid I might wind up seeing again). If we're connected online but never actually interact or communicate, I'm probably going to decide to trim the fat rather than keep that connection alive.
It's never anything personal, it just goes back to me wanting to keep my friend list limited to the people I consider to be my actual friends. Sure, I could hide you instead, but what's the point? Why do you need that access to what I share (or I to what you share) if we're not actually personally engaging to begin with? The truth is, unless you're one of my nearest and dearest, I can almost guarantee I wouldn't even notice if you deleted me.
Extroverts: Keeps tabs on everyone.
My extroverted friends, on the other hand, notice. And even if it's someone they haven't spoken to in years who has deleted them, or someone they only know through friends of friends, they tend to take offense. Not because they're being overly sensitive, but because when you're online to make as many connections as possible, it's difficult to understand someone who's using social media without that objective in mind.
There are, of course, exceptions to all of these rules. I actually do have one friend on Facebook who's a friend of a friend I've never met, but who I have enough in common with that I genuinely enjoy being connected with her.
And I'm sure even my most extroverted friends have reached a point of hitting that delete button before, perhaps during the political season. But still, these core tendencies seem to remain.
In a lot of ways, the differences between introverts and extroverts online mirror the same differences you might see in real life. And many of them stem from the opposite priorities introverts and extroverts tend to have when it comes to connecting with others — the difference between preferring a small circle of friends to a wide selection of acquaintances, for instance.
Neither way is wrong, they're just ... different. And recognizing those differences might save a few hurt feelings down the line. Because if someone doesn't accept your friend request, or does but eventually deletes you, it's probably not personal — they may just be an introvert.