I think part of the reason why I don’t engage with social media more is because I always feel horribly self-conscious about posting things publicly and leaving a trail behind. I strive to be a minimalist and this includes creating casual, random content on social media that lingers around. To me, this seems contrary to my own communication habits. As an extrovert, I’m accustomed to speaking and then thinking about what I said after, and sometimes for a very long time after if my filter wasn’t on. When posting on social media, or even on this blog, I agonize before publishing anything because I know that it’s on display and will likely be retained for a longer period than my comfort level would like.
I’ve seen a big difference in my daily interactions with other humans and I can’t help but wonder if it’s because of all the electronic communication. When interacting with another human digitally, via texting, email, social media, etc., a lot of elements are missing such as facial cues, body language, tone, and inflection. It’s just not possible to replace all of these physical elements with emoticons, punctuation, and italicized, or bolded, text. So now when I communicate with people face-to-face, I notice they don’t like to make eye contact as often, the attention span is shorter and there’s a heightened sense of awkwardness about the whole affair.
I also notice people hanging out together and not talking because they’re all on their devices. I have a sneaking suspicion that they’re all having a conversation through texting or IMing, even though they’re in close proximity to one another. Communicating digitally affords a person the time and space to think and reflect about what s/he wants to say before hitting the send button. It means responses can be carefully crafted to sound witty, cool, intelligent, or insert adjective here, all the time. I don’t know about anybody else, but that sounds like a lot of pressure to me.
I’m a talker by nature, as exemplified by my extroverted personality. I might not always say the most appropriate things, or have the wittiest, coolest responses to everything, but my words are authentic. And it’s not recorded, for the most part, so I don’t feel self-conscious because I can say what I need to say without leaving a digital trail behind me.