“Wait I thought you were an extrovert!?”
If you are a Facebook user you’ve inevitably come across an individual who posts frequently. The person I’m talking about is the one who not only posts but tends to draw some feedback and then begins to interact with those commenting. When reading through the different posts this particular individual seems to stand out and they seem fun. So I’ll begin interacting with her or him and begin to develop the expectation that I would enjoy spending time with the individual if I ever I had the opportunity. I’m an extrovert so naturally I gravitate toward those who share those particular qualities with. Based on the individual’s behavior and my interaction with them I’ve just shared about I deduce they too are extroverts.
I’m not sure if this is the same for you or not. But many of my Facebook friends are friends that run in my social circles. So on many occasions I’ve had the joy of connecting in person with people I interacted with on Facebook. Though quite frequently when I get in a face-to-face interaction with the “Facebook Extrovert” I am surprised to find out he or she is in fact not an extrovert. Many times they happen to be quite opposite.
Extrovert: one whose personality is characterized by extroversion; broadly: a gregarious and unreserved person.
I pulled this definition from the Merriam Webster online dictionary. The character trait is fairly simple. I’ve always understood an extrovert is someone who is very outgoing and is energized by people around them. This seems to fall inline with the most poplar definition seen above by the people at Webster.
The Facebook Extrovert however is different.
Characteristics: The Facebook Extrovert is the person who seemingly comes across extroverted on Facebook (or any other internet social network) but in reality is not. Now, I don’t believe all people who exhibit this behavior are in anyway doing it maliciously or to be intentionally deceptive. I do however find it difficult to build a relationship based on the premise of a social behavior in one context and then find out I don’t really know this person very well at all.
I can write much on this topic but for the sake of getting to the point I want to point out that we cannot trust Internet behavior to be consistent with face to face encounters. This is the case when communicating via email with people. Over email people will say things they would never say to your face but when at a computer typing away on a keyboard people transform into something else entirely.
The following will be some short observations on Facebook Extroverts. I’ll quickly bullet point some things and invite you to comment and interact with me on the issue:
1) You can interact with them well
2) You can have great conversations.
3) You can speak your mind.
1) They MAY not be the same in person.
2) You can experience strained personal interaction
3) You may be caught off guard when you try to engage them the same way you would on facebook.
1) A big problem is not fully knowing this person without personal interaction thereby causing you to inappropriately set expectations on your time with them. This is one of the biggest problems all people have. We go into our social situations and have expectations on how people will relate to us and how that time will go. The Facebook Extrovert unknowingly projects a particular persona and defines an expectation level that is false.
2) It becomes difficult to navigate the personal interaction, which means you can struggle developing relational depth.
1) Where you not be able to say the same things to them in person you can however meet them where they are at and engage the issues you desire online. I mean to say that just because someone may come across different on Facebook or any other Internet Social Network it doesn’t mean that you cannot ever attain a healthy level of depth of relationship. You do however have to be flexible and figure out the best way of communicating and interacting with them.
2) In person you’ll have to figure out their authentic personality and adjust your expectation. Just because you thought someone had a particular set of personality traits doesn’t mean that you don’t have anything in common. Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater so to speak. Figure it out. If you want to develop authentic personal friends online and in person you must be wiling to reset your expectation on them and you. The idea of adjusting your expectation level goes beyond the initial development of friendships by the way. In order to attain healthy deep relationships you will have to adjust your expectations along the way. Making quality friends is a journey not a quick “post” on their Facebook page.
I normally don’t like to post lengthy blogs but just so you know, this was a very brief explanation of this particular “Facebook Friend”. I’ll try to post one of these once a week or so in order to give us both the time to read, reflect and apply. I hope it’s been helpful.
Let me know what you think.