Blog Post

Negotiating Introversion in Social Media

I'm fascinated with social media, and generally, I've been willing to play around with any new socially-oriented site I've come across. However, the pressures of always feeling "public" (whether or not anyone is ever actually looking at what I've had to say) has led me to deactivate Facebook, discontinue Twitter, abandon Tumblr and Wordpress, etc. etc. Yet, I want to better understand and implement new digital--and very social--platforms for tracking the revision history of, for example, the Victorian novel. Moreover, I'm working as the Coordinator of the Undergraduate Affiliates Program at the Alice Kaplan Institute of the Humanities at Northwestern--a job that entails heading/editing a humanities-oriented blog for the Institute. My question is, can one be a "digital humanist" without having to share too much of oneself? Can I gracefully bow out of participating in LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, etc.? How do we bridge the gap between incurable introvert and democratically-dedicated scholarship (i.e, open-access, the creation of open source communites for archive annotation) when it comes to the use of new technologies?

I'll be wrestling with this question of private vs. public for the rest of year, as well as documenting progress on 1) exploring various digital platforms for visually mapping revision histories and 2) the creation of a brand-new, humanities-institute-affiliated blog.



Jade --

If you feel comfortable doing so, would you be kind enough to repost this great post on NUDHL too?



-- Michael



Hi Winter! I thought you might be interested in this post I wrote last year:

My own introversion, busyness, and predilection for lurking made it very difficult for me to involve myself in the HASTAC community last year. I'm hoping to participate more this year, but (like you) I'm still searching for an appropriate vector for participation. So I'm looking forward to seeing what you come up with. Good luck! :)


Your post was exceptional Adam--thanks for sharing it with me, and, even more, for articulating many of my own anxieties far better than I ever could. I agree with the notion that kitten videos could be Step 2 in the Twelve Step Process to Stop Lurking (Step 1 being, of course, acknowledging that we are powerless to stop lurking). I'll keep you updated on how I end up participating (or strategically not participating!) in online conversations. In the meantime, keep in touch...? I would like to hear what solutions you come up with re: the private/public divide!


Thanks for the kind words, Winter. I'm glad you enjoyed the post. And let's definitely keep in touch! I'll send you my contact info through a message in HASTAC--which I suppose is a partial solution to our question, this ability to send private messages through social media. It's not much of a solution, but it's something, I guess. :)


If you place me at a party or a conference and tell me to go mingle, I'll freeze up. Social media allows me to connect with professionals in my fields I am considering and also connect with other students. It is where I get advice, ideas, and tweets to do something awesome like HASTAC. There are times I want to bow out of social media, especially Facebook. It can be exhausting! But I wouldn't know about the majority of what currently interests me without it. People handle social media in so many different ways. I think I'm pretty open on Twitter. On the other hand, I follow people who keep all their tweets 100% related to their job or research. I think it is very possible to be an open, active person on social media and still keep your privacy. 



Hi Winter,

I can definitely relate to your ambivalence about social media. In fact, my similar feelings are what led me to join HASTAC this year. I’m currently working on a project that has required me to interview quite a few practicing DHers, and they all keep saying how important it is to have an online presence. The problem is, I’m just not that comfortable online, and I get major anxiety over crafting that perfect online image that manages to impart academic professionalism while still being personable and an accurate representation of who I really am. So I’ve joined HASTAC in part to try to force myself to get more comfortable communicating with others online.

What’s also odd about my own brand of online introversion is that I’ve been working part-time as a social media marketing coordinator for a small writing services company for almost 3 years now. I’m totally comfortable with crafting someone else’s online image (or an organization’s, in this case) but I feel totally overwhelmed by the task of creating my own! So I sympathize. I guess all I can say is that at least we’re doing more than lurking right now? Baby steps…