Wednesday, August 03, 2011

HSPs... and Social Media

Here's a quick quiz for you:

Are you on Facebook? Are you active?
Are you on Twitter? Do you tweet regularly?
Do you blog? Or participate on "social" writing sites (Squidoo, HubPages, Gather, etc.)?
Are you on social bookmarking sites (StumbleUpon, Digg, etc.)?
Are you on YouTube? As in, have your own channel?

I'd guess that the vast majority of HSPs shudder at the idea of being involved in the social media circus... on any level. I expect a few might even be thinking that I should consider myself lucky that they are even on the Internet, reading a blog about being an HSP.

Experience tells me that some simply find the whole thing abhorrent; others get around "having much of an opinion" by simply pleading "technological ignorance." They look at me innocently and say "Oh, I have no idea how that works-- I'm really bad with computer stuff!" .... with an unspoken subtext echoing in the background "... and I have NO intention of finding out!"

Yet others insist that these technologies are "too left brain" for an HSP. A different group rejects the whole thing because "it is too overstimulating."

Personally, I blog, administrate online groups for HSPs, I am active on Facebook, twitter and can be found in various other places. I don't necessarily write about being an HSP everywhere, but I often speak of the trait "in passing," as part of writing/conversations about other issues. I will add that I've been using computers since 1976, and they don't scare me. I've been using the Internet since 1992, and it doesn't scare me. That said, I totally honor that others don't have an easy time with technology.

What worries me, however, is that HSPs often push their natural "cautiousness" and reticence over the top to the point where it actually becomes a form of "sticking their heads in the sand;" a way to avoid dealing with the reality of how the world is developing. Nothing wrong with natural caution, of course... but outright AVOIDANCE is not a healthy thing.

There is little doubt in my mind that these trends-- social media-- are here to stay. Now, we can choose to sit back and say "these things are NOT HSP-friendly, so we don't want to use them," but I really don't think that serves us well. Most of us wish that the world would more widely recognize the HSP trait, and in doing so make it an easier place in which to live. We wish that more people-- from employers to medical professionals-- be at least aware of the HSP trait as something that is not a pathology.

However, in order to make our voices heard, I strongly believe that we cannot afford to "reject" the dominant majority infrastructure in place for getting out our "message." If we do, we will just fade into obscurity... I'm not saying we have to LIKE using social media (after all, most HSPs are introverts), just that we need to be familiar with them, and know HOW to use them to our advantage.

Talk back: What do YOU think? Are you fairly "fluent" in using social media? Or do you reject the whole idea? If you do reject the idea of using social media, what is your reasoning? Which, if any, social media platforms are you part of? Leave a comment!

9 comments:

  1. Hi Peter! I think social media is perfect for HSP's. It is so much easier to meet kindred souls, and make friends all over the country and world. The only thing that might upset an HSP is finding a "little too much" about virtual friends, i.e. their political opinions (lol!)
    Hey if it wasn't for FB, I wouldn't know you or S.N.! The only problem I've had with social media and HSP's is creepy people trying to jump into our groups (i.e. a prisoner looking for love) -

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  2. Thanks Janet! I agree that these "virtual communities" are actually perfect for HSPs, and especially the introverted HSP (70-75% of us). In many ways, it affords us a way to "pre-qualify" who we socialize with, in ways we can't possibly do if we walk into a roomful of random strangers. And these connections we form often hold the potential to help HSPs form connections that later become "meatspace" friendships.

    Yes, there is always a chance that you might come across a weirdo or two... but that could also happen at the laundromat, or at the local mall while you're buying shoes, IMHO.

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  3. I think Social media is great! I can "meet" people, start forming connections, reach out to others, make a difference using MY criteria of when and how much to invest myself. To me, it's a good way of preventing others from "forcing" me out of my comfort zone, as to how much and when I give to others. I can do some helping and socializing simply online, and I can, as you said, "pre-qualify" those that I wish to spend more/closer time with. I can be much more outgoing, and save my energy for those times I have to keep my "shields" up in crowds. I can show my emotions without caring, because no one else can see, except those that love me and accept me already. I think it's made for HSP's. And the creeps are almost as easy to spot as they are in real life! lol
    Thanks for the thoughts.

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  4. Good points, Peter. I like social media for much the same reasons Jean does (waving hello to Jean!). I think the biggest problem about HSPs' cautiousness is when it holds us back in some way or keeps us from getting heard, and if our lives are fine without it, that's ok. But me, I naturally gravitated to online communities when I discovered them back in 1994, and it opened up my world as if I was born into this era for a reason.

    To the case of it being too left-brained - yeah, some of it is, especially if you're working at the back end making things work. But I find communicating through this medium to be wonderfully intuitive, getting to know people and getting a "feel" for a community, etc. - even building social confidence that can be transferred to "real life" - there's an art to all that.

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  5. Hi Peter, I think social media is a great way to express yourself particularly for HSP's. I've been blogging and facebooking since 2007 and boy did my heart pound every time I posted something on either. After getting over the initial "self consciousness" about writing a status or blog post, the positive comments and responses are what boost your confidence and keep you going and let other people have a little insight into your world.

    Now it's a wonderful way to keep in touch with family and friends far away, particularly with blogging. I find it a wonderful way of developing my photographic and writing skills. I think as an HSP, it's helped me notice the finer details about life and appreciate them, which in turn can help others to appreciate them as well.

    With facebook you can jump in and jump out as often as you like depending on how confident or social you feel. I think it's important to limit how many social networking sites you contribute to, it can get a little overwhelming when you don't have enough hours in the day to keep up with them all. Sorry for the long winded response :+)

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  6. I would ask you to look at the various reasons for such new social media and technology to surface in recent years. While your post casts HSPs in the "head in the sand" light if one finds these sites aversive, I question you as to why one should seem to "have" to participate in these new forms of communication, especially if other forms don't seem to hinder them from life and work.

    Coming from a background of advertising, marketing and online brand management (my day job, advertising was my study in school) and I can tell you firsthand that if you think these sites exist for the pure fun of it all, you'd be surprised. Throwing so many new ways to have to "contribute to the tribal meetings" via sites like Facebook, Twitter, Ping, etc. are more ways to condition us as humans and consumers to be able to change our habits quickly and without question, so long as the herd is going along with it. Not only that, but the sites are more profitable to the marketers and advertisers who buy and sell your personal information for profit and marketing research, not the everyday Facebook user. Yes, you have access to your friends. Yes, you can "connect" with anyone, at almost anytime. But at what cost? These forms of communication slowly render all other forms obsolete- we already see this in youths who can't even sit at a restaurant at dinner without "checking in" or mindlessly droning away on their smart phones. It doesn't seems like the direction evolution would bring us, don't you think?

    I am one of the HSPs you mention that despise social media. It's ironic, because I work at a tech firm and if I didn't have the internet and social media, I literally could not do my job. But that doesn't stop me from limiting my personal time I spend (spend or waste?) on these sites, and the type of information I put out about myself. Choosing to not play the "technocrat" game with the rest of them is a return to the traditional ways of communication and relating to one another, instead of logging on and uploading all of the happenings of my life.

    But what really gets me is how much I don't accomplish when one is on these sites. As a close friend of mine says, "The internet, Facebook, it EATS my time."

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  7. Mandy, I appreciate your thoughtful comment, as well as the points you brought up. I want to say, though... that I'm not convinced social media has to be an all-or-nothing gig.

    My primary point here is that it's all but impossible to escape from the inevitability of "progress," or whatever you want to call the direction of the human condition. Sure, we can look at the Amish and say "they do just fine without cars." True. You can look at those who still have never owned a computer, and say "they do just fine without email." Also true. Many resist social media, like many once resisted "horseless carriages," while others rejected the WWW as "a toy for a handful of socially inept nerds." And frankly? If they are truly HAPPY, power to them!

    When you're in the waters of a roaring river rushing downstream, you can struggle wildly and end up getting swept downstream ANYway... or you can say "Wow... I'm caught in this wild torrent, so let me make the most of the ride, ON MY TERMS, to the greatest degree possible." And that's largely what I'm advocating wrt to HSPs.

    I do understand social media as a giant marketing tool (As an aside, I also have Finance/Marketing degrees from UT Austin-- lived there for 20 years)... but we DO possess the power of independent thought; the power to USE the tools in front of us to our best benefit. "Sensitives" are already somewhat marginalized by broader societal values, and further marginalizing *ourselves* by rejecting mainstream tools will hardly gain us much respect and recognition.

    Do I LIKE this trend? No. Do I see its inherent utility in forwarding "Brand HSP?" Absolutely! Do I enjoy exchanging ideas with HSPs in Australia? Absolutely. Do I enjoy (and WRITE!) letters with a fountain pen, to people far away? Yes! But I wouldn't have KNOWN them, were it not for technology. But that's an aside.

    In part because I seem to have become some kind of "HSP Awareness champion/crusader" (I've seen how much respect HSPs have gained in the Netherlands and Denmark, for example, as a result of "mass connection"-- we SO lack that, in the US!) I often worry that our hesitance may cause us to be "left behind." And that's fine, if you ("global" you) are content with sitting 20 years down the road and people are STILL saying "Sensitive? Rubbish! It's all in your head! Get over yourself!" Personally, I'm not.

    I'm a life-long trend observer, and we're part of a trend that is not about to reverse. In another ten years, there will be no written checks. "Privacy" is already an illusion. I'd bet good money that before 2020 your Klout score will have as much impact on your ability to "do anything" as your credit score has, today. Do I LIKE that? F&#k no! But I also don't reject the inevitability of it... and I feel better about KNOWING and USING the system than trying to reject it outright... that's not an issue of feeling like I "must" use social media, but an issue of using a new "tool" to work towards accomplishing an end goal.

    Thank you for adding to the discussion!

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  8. Hi, Peter. Thank you for the post.

    I have always loved the Internet and social media because I love learning, but I've struggled for over 10 years with how active I want to be with it. My usage of social media seems to mirror my relationships in general -- I'm more extraverted than the average introvert and I enjoy being "in the know" and "connected", so I seek out new technologies (and relationships) readily, but I'm also somewhat codependent and still working on setting boundaries so I get overstimulated easily and end up retreating or deleting posts or deactivating accounts altogether as a result. It's a back and forth "dance". The communication, information, and validation is nice, but I feel a lot more stable when I'm away from the computer, be it alone or being social with a few others. I was actually hoping to read more about more extraverted HSPs and setting boundaries with social media use, but I know that's not the average experience of an HSP! :)

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  9. Michelle, I relate. It's a dance for me, too. Sometimes I want to be more honest, more communicative, on Facebook in particular, about my ethics and interests. But the spitefulness of some responses makes me wonder how good this is for an HSP such as myself. I want to have the courage to share what inspires and stimulates me to grow, but it costs. Tonight, after being called an 'old tool' by someone I don't even know, I feel like crawling back into my protective shell. 'Old tool' may be rather tame, but for me such barbs leave scars. I've gotten better about 'unfriending' and unfollowing people who bring chaotic or destructive energy onto my page, and that's helped.

    Thanks for your comment.

    Cat

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