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Today’s topic: social media and how it effects the meek, but opinionated individuals of today’s society (Like me!). Before getting into the nitty-gritty, let's take a moment to go over some background detail.
Times have changed and along with it, people, their cultural norms and values. What has not changed, however, is the different types of people in the world. Back in the day (I’m assuming here. I haven’t lived that long), there were definite labels put on people. No, I’m not talking about your typical high school jock-cheerleader-nerd labels. I’m talking about professional labels, such as: intuitive, perceptive, sensitive, etc. Two broad labels that people generally kept separate were extrovert and introvert. For the longest time, it seemed true that an individual was either one or the other. However, individuals have diversified in personality and are often seen to have contrasting traits coexisting within them. Introverted individuals can be just as assertive as extroverts… they just need a little help showing it.
That help comes in the form of social media, in all its digital and virtual glory. Introverts aren’t as openly expressive about their thoughts and opinions and that sometimes gets in their professional lives. They don’t share unless prompted to do so because, to put it plainly, they don’t like being the center of attention. Also, in some cases, they may feel intimidated or fear being judged in person. This is when social media comes into play. It gives these individuals the social networking platform they need to voice their ideas without feeling like the spotlight is directly on them and only them.
Now let's get to the nitty-gritty. Or, you know, the actual content of this topic.
What are the platforms used in professional settings?
Some social networking platforms are user profiles, blogs/micro blogs, wikis, private messaging systems, and discussion forums. I’m sure there are plenty of others…I just don’t know them all (sorry, not sorry). I feel that introverts benefit mainly from user profiles and blogs/micro blogs.
Before anyone asks, no, not Facebook. That’s a bit too personal if you ask me. Though, we do live in the Social Age so the line between professional and personal has blurred. Facebook can, technically, be used in professional settings. Personally, I don’t think it should. Call me old fashioned but I don’t like mixing work and play. LinkedIn, on the other hand, is an excellent professional user profile platform. At first, it’s basically your résumé online for the world to see. Then, as you explore the platform, it becomes a place to share your interests and experiences. For an introvert, this is a great platform to get to know your colleagues, expand your network, and just (for once) put yourself out there. It encourages open and effective communication and some constructive criticism every now and then (gotta love those!).
For the record, I’m completely new to the blogging world. I don’t even have a twitter! I always wanted to try it though (Look! I’m blogging), to see if I could make better sense written (typed?) down because my speaking skills are… average at best. Blogs and micro blogs follow a general journal format. It’s a platform used for networking and communication between professionals. Professional blogs include, team blogs, project blogs, and leadership or guidance blogs (all of which are quite self –explanatory but if you want to know more click here and here). For introverts, this is a great platform to take advantage of, to voice their opinions about their work, environment, and resources. This platform also allows feedback from the readers, which encourages introverts to be more active online (Yay to more constructive criticism!).
Note: The benefits of user profiles and blogs/micro blogs can apply to anyone. I just wanted to point out that introverts might prefer social interactions on online platforms rather than in person.
Anyway, I think that social media has given the introverted a social outlet that allow them to network and communicate better with others without making drastic changes to their personality. This means that they don’t have to change the way they function or work to meet the social requirements of their professional lives. Everyone is happy!
And to end on a happy note, here is a very interesting TED Talk about introverts and how awesome they are:
Cardon, P. W. (2014). Business communication: Developing leaders for a networked world (2nd ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill Irwin.
Cain, S. (2012, March). Susan Cain: The power of introverts [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c0KYU2j0TM4