I was born in the late 1980’s, when home computers were available, but sparse. Apple was starting to gain steam, and by the time I formally entered school, we had a few of them in our library, and soon, a small computer lab. In the early to mid 1990’s, computers looked like this:
Yes. Yes they did.
I loved computers from the first time I used one. I was so excited when my dad bought Windows 95, and I enjoyed playing an archaic version of Oregon Trail on the classroom computer when I finished my work early.
My experience lends itself to how far we’ve come in the last 20 years.
We are alive at an exciting time, a planet of multiple generations of people who have lived through completely different social experiences. While my grandmother communicates by phone or face to face only, my younger sister prefers texting over talking and always has her cell phone within a foot’s length.
The Home Computer
We bought our first home computer for the family in 2000.
I look back to how innovative and captivating the Internet experience was at that time, a time when AOL was king and chat rooms absorbed the masses.
In the early 2000s, my classmate’s father lost his wife over his preoccupation with the Internet. Society was changing. The Internet experience was desired – and needed.
The Internet, and now, Social Media, unfathomable in 2000, are an integral part of our daily lives.
Social Media for the Anxious, Shy, & Introverted
As a young, intense, deep thinking kid, I clung to the home computer. I was always involved and friendly, but I was also shy. I didn’t like to make eye contact. I preferred to talk through my main outlet, text. Writing.
Community websites like Bolt.com were perfect for a kid who wanted to talk, but not in front of people. And a social experience for the socially anxious or awkward was born.
Today, Social Media is an effective outlet for the socially anxious, shy, or introverted. It provides an opportunity for people to speak as short or long as they want, when they want, and without much pressure.
According to the Association for Psychological Science, socially anxious individuals do enjoy the company of others, but avoid social situations for fear of being disliked or judged.
Researchers are studying how use of social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter mimic classic social behavior and how they affect the socially anxious.
The Social Landscape
Social Media will never replace the emotional and biological effects that face to face human interaction has on a relationship, but it is a way to feed the need for connection and intimacy in an alternative way.
I’m interested to watch how Social Media will continue to unfold as a useful tool for populations who may want or need to communicate differently.
Questions for Conversation:
1)If you are shy, introverted, or socially anxious, how do you find that Social Media helps you achieve your need for connection?
2)How do you predict Social Media and social networking will continue to be a useful tool for special populations?
3)What is your prediction for how Social Media will evolve over the next 10 years?
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