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Being an introvert in the times of social media

An 18-year-old’s life is all about selfies and snapchats, or is it?

brunch Updated: Aug 01, 2016 07:02 IST
(Lizanne D’Souza)

Google translates ‘introvert’ as someone who is ‘shy and reticent’. So, at least according to Google, being shy is a major part of being an introvert. As per my understanding, introverts are not necessarily people who have trouble talking to others, but simply prefer to be on their own. I have been told that I am not an introvert but merely a shy person. But slowly, I am realising that I am both shy and an introvert, so perhaps the lines that differentiate the two are just blurred in my case. Being an introvert is not about being envious towards extroverts at all. Being shy has nothing to do with hating on confident people. Well, most of the time.

To be able to just casually go, “Oh, my God, I have to tell you what happened to me yesterday, it was so bizarre,” and command the attention of the entire room effortlessly is an actual dream, a longing, a far-fetched fantasy that I sometimes indulge in when I’m alone in my room talking to Sodapop. Sodapop is my cat and is not very encouraging in matters such as these. She licks her paw and passes out and it really just adds to my whole social anxiety problem.

To see people who can spend evenings without pretending to have not seen someone (just so that they can avoid having to make small talk because it is genuinely the most terrifyingly stressful activity) and actually go and shake hands with them and hug them and look them in the eye, seems unreal at times.

That’s why social media is so fantastic. It blurs that line between introverts and extroverts the same way I blur the line between shyness and introversion. It’s great! On Facebook, you don’t have to maintain eye contact. On Twitter, you can skip all the small talk. On Instagram, you can stare at people for hours, wondering why every single person other than you turned out so ridiculously good-looking.

The most beautiful thing about social media is that no one asks you why you’re sitting alone in a corner – because…no one knows! You can say anything you want, and you’ll be heard by everyone. You can be anyone you want and you’ll be seen by everyone; but within a few scrolls, you’ll be forgotten, people will get distracted by clickbait and celebrity scandals and that’s that. What an ideal balance.

Social media has the power to make you feel a larger-than-life, beautiful giant, but at the same time, it can make you feel small and irrelevant, someone who can be easily trampled on. You will receive love and support for every selfie you put up but you will also receive crude remarks from people you don’t even know for accomplishments you’re proud of.

But as soon as I took a step back, I realise how amazing this platform is; just for people who have something to say and who want to be heard. Regardless of whether they crave constant company or hate leaving the quiet of their bedroom.

As an introvert, as a cripplingly shy 18-year-old, I have that added advantage of being a listener. In this virtual world, where there is a tendency to try and grab attention, we introverts instead watch, observe, learn, and we’re very lucky to have it at a point in history where vanity is so celebrated.

Rabia Kapoor is a budding writer living in Mumbai. She has recently performed her spoken word poem, The Introvert’s Banter at The Poetry Lounge session, organised in collaboration with The Poetry Club and Kommune. Rabia also happens to be the daughter of actor/director Rajat Kapoor.

From HT Brunch, July 31, 2016

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