An Introvert Blogging in an Extrovert World

I am Rebekah and I am an introvert*.

Jonathan Rauch is another introvert who wrote the fantastic satirical article Caring For Your Introvert.   He explains what being an introvert means.

Oh, for years I denied it [being an introvert]. After all, I have good social skills. I am not morose or misanthropic. Usually. I am far from shy. I love long conversations that explore intimate thoughts or passionate interests. But at last I have self-identified and come out to my friends and colleagues.

I like people. I love the buzz I get when I am laughing with friends. I want to collaborate with as many people as possible. I’ve been the “new kid” at school over 15 schools, which has made me an expert at chit-chat and meeting new people. There is nothing that I like more than conversations over good beer. I speak up in meetings, with a relatively loud voice.  The best part of my job is that I spend time with over 100 people aged 11-18 everyday.  But I am still an introvert.  I need to recharge on a regular basis.  My long commute home is actually a gift, because I can be alone in a crowd to process my day. I often need to be myself.  It takes a lot of my energy to be with people and I often have to go into hibernation if I have I have spent a lot of time surrounded by lots of other people. Rauch justifies my habits.

This isn’t antisocial. It isn’t a sign of depression. It does not call for medication. For introverts, to be alone with our thoughts is as restorative as sleeping, as nourishing as eating.

You would think that blogging would be perfect for someone like me. I have ideas. I’m passionate about my job. Naturally, writing is a comfortable medium for me to express myself. And blogging lets me share my thoughts with the world, without having to talk to anyone**.  Ideal, right?

I am here to tell you that blogging is actually not easy for introverts***.  This new world is called “social networking” — two words that make me want to up my caffeine intake. Extroverts have taken over the internet. Extroverts by their very nature, appear to be more natural at sharing thoughts and feelings with the world. Introverts, like me, worry about adding the cacophony of the internet. Blogging can be uncomfortable for me, but not because I lack confidence or ideas.  Blogging can be difficult, because “we [introverts] tend to think before talking, whereas extroverts tend to think by talking.”**** I am constantly thinking about what I am going to write before ever logging on to write a post. It can be draining at times. When I finish writing a post, I just feel relief that I’m done.  I don’t feel energized when I hit “publish”.  I appreciate the reflective nature of blogs and I know I am going love having a portfolio that shows my growth and progress as a teacher. But I’m usually exhausted when I’m done.  And though it might be nice, I can’t just sit down and write a quick entry about what I think or feel. My consciousness doesn’t stream that way.

At my school, we are moving towards blogging with our students. Many people reading this may also have their students blogging.  So while perhaps its unwise to generalize based on my own experience, here is my plea on behalf of my brethren…Please be kind to the introverts in your class when you ask them to blog. The introverts may be hidden. Remember being shy is not the same as being an introvert. Don’t be surprised if your class-clown has to go home and recharge. They may resist sharing on the internet, not because they lack something to say or they aren’t creative, but this isn’t the medium that naturally fits them. That doesn’t mean that blogging doesn’t have value for introverts (or shy students, or ESL students, or gifted students, etc.).  I think student blogging can extend student learning beyond my classroom. I love that by blogging, my students have an opportunity to connect with a global and authentic audience.  One of my wonderful students writes stories and self-published them on his blog, which is absolutely amazing. But for some students it may it make take them a while to find what inspires them to add to millions of words being added to the internet each day*****. So be forgiving as they figure out how to bring their special introvert-selves to the world.

Now I’m going to take a nap.

———————-

*According to Meyers-Brigg test I’m actually a Introverted iNtuitive Feeling Perceiving (INFP). According to wikipedia, other notable INFPs may include Princess Diana, George Orwell, Aldous Huxley, Audrey Hepburn, Richard Gere, Albert Schweitzer.
** I also think its false to say that blogging is solitary. I want my blog to lead to conversations and discussions. I “talk” all the time to people via blog comments. Also, if it weren’t for COETAIL, I would still be blogging, but not once a week.
** I’m guessing blogging is difficult for extroverts for other reasons.  But I only know what I know.
**** I did  mention that Rauch’s article is satirical, right?  No offense is meant to any extroverts out there.
***** I also think it’s difficult for kids with the mixed messages we send them…be yourself online, but don’t put you name online.  Just write anything that comes to you, but remember that anything that you put there will will be there forever.  They must be confused. 
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About Rebekah Madrid

MYP Humanities Instructor. International School Teacher in Japan. Google Certified Teacher. Apple Distinguished Educator. National Board Certified Teacher. Traveler & TV Watcher. This is where I write my thoughts about all of the above.
This entry was posted in COETAIL @YIS, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to An Introvert Blogging in an Extrovert World

  1. Jean Hino says:

    I really appreciate reading your thoughts about blogging as an introvert. I had never thought about it and as I read your blog I guess it shows I am more extroverted in that I think through talking. I always knew that about myself, but I hadn’t thought about how that fits into blogging or sharing on social networks. I really enjoy reading and seeing on facebook what my friends are thinking and doing even if I am not always commenting or posting my own activities.(I’m trying to decide what is the digital footprint I want to leave.)
    Also as I think about what I am teaching my students about blogging and posting comments, I am also finding it confusing. Our school has decided to “lock down” the blogs and the only way to see them or post a comment is to have a secure login. So since it is only my students and their parents who can see the posts and comments is it okay to put names by photos? Is it okay for students to use first and last names? Can they write in the first person on the blog about a photo? I guess these are some of the questions I will be exploring in my own blog as I reflect on the reading about our digital footprint

    • Thanks for your comment! This is my own opinion (so may be wrong), but you are teaching something a little different than blogging by locking down the blogs. You are teaching the skills of how to create a blog and giving an opportunity to practice writing. You are starting to have students thing about their digital footprint. Those things are hugely valuable. But without an authentic, open audience the true point of blogging is missed. I hope that as it becomes more comfortable in your school, perhaps it starts to open up. Because I’m sure your kids are doing amazing things.

      • Jean Hino says:

        I also agree that we’re not really blogging although the administration says that if the parents and other students are reading a post there is an authentic audience. Since I work with 2nd graders and we are truly just beginning at our school I know there is a lot of educating that needs to happen before students, parents, staff and administrators are comfortable with opening up the blogs. Step by step we’ll get there.

    • (This is in response to your second comment.) I do think its awesome that you are truly blogging before you have your students do it. It’ll make you aware of the challenges and rewards of it before it expands at your school. And I trust you’ll be leading the charge to make changes as people are more comfortable with widening the audience.
      R

  2. Your blog post offers a lot to ponder. It’s been fascinating to witness the range of students’ responses to the 1:1 programme at our school. I hadn’t really thought about the internet being a challenging place for introverts, assuming that many would post, publish and share more easily in a digital medium than face to face. Your writing has made me radically rethink such a sweeping assumption: thanks for sharing with such frankness.

    • I think we overestimate how much kids want to use tech for something new. They like it for the easy stuff (google searches, word processing, etc), but are more resistant to the higher level stuff. I think there are a lot of reasons for that. And while quiet students may shine at blogging in a way they don’t in a traditional classroom there are a lot of reasons why others are resistant. It doesn’t mean we don’t do it….it just means we have to be thoughtful about how we get them to do it. Thanks for your comment!

  3. Loved this post. It has had me thinking all weekend, and since I won’t have any clearer idea of what I am going to say let me let spill some thoughts now.

    I am an introvert too. And an extrovert. (According to Meyer’s Briggs I fluctuate between INFP and ENFP) I am a Gemini and Cancer cusp. I don’t know what any of this means; people tell me that it means, I am a bit nuts and unstable. I am nearly manic and can’t seem to find that elusive Zen middle road I so desperately seek.

    I want to be the rock star who is adored and respected, but then want to be left alone to wallow in my angst. It is not a pretty sight, but it is what it is. I guess what I am trying to say is that while labels and classifications help us understand who we are and how we deal with greater society, they are just hints of who we are and who we can be.

    I believe in the intensive exploration of identity and its relation to society. Before you say, “that sounds a bit too much for most people especially young people,” let me say that this exploration started when I was about 13 and has never ended. I was the shy kid that somehow was the student council president. The kid who stammered in class, but was also most spirited.

    What I am trying to say is that I would have done anything for a platform like a blog as a shy introverted kid. I was born to blog and wished as a middle schooler I had a platform to show others who I was behind my shy exterior.

    I agree with you that kids suffer from not knowing what to say or who to be, just as adults do, but as a language arts teacher and as an ex-shy kid, I want to show people that with a little confidence, guidance, and experimentation we can find ways to express ourselves that help us find who we can be.

    The beauty of the blog is that it need not be solely text based. The blog can act as a home base for all Internet based tools. I agree with a lot of what you said, but the blog need only be a dumping ground for the tools that do help kids express themselves. Video from Basketball practice, photos from FLickr, poems, faveorite videos from Youtube etc….

    I am teaching a course similar to COETAIL asking teachers to blog, and finding it very interesting how hard it is for adults to express themselves. If we claim that writing, art, and expression have value than we need to sometimes push people a bit. But then I could be totally wrong. Maybe I feel so strongly about this, because I enjoy it and it comes easy for me.

    I will share this post with my class. Thanks for making me thinking and allowing me to brain dump on your post.

    • There are a lot of things I want to respond to, so you may want to check back to see if I think of more. I think it’s interesting you would have loved blogging in middle school. I really think I would have hated it. At least the authentic blogging that I think both of us want our students to do. I want my students to connect and share and explore and blogs are amazing ways to do it because they are amazing people. I guess my real point of this post is that blogging can be a loaded thing. It’s more than just writing. And I think we need to remember that this is REALLY hard for some people for a lot of reasons. That doesn’t mean we don’t challenge and push them and support them…that’s our responsibility as a teacher. But I wanted people to at least be aware that the challenges are multifaceted. I love the idea of using non-writing (perhaps simple as a Flickr/Instagram feed) as a way to wade into blogging/sharing with kids.

      And as a side note, I’m a Libra born in the year of the goat. Not sure what that means either, but I’m guessing it means I’m messed up in my own special way 🙂

      Thanks as always for commenting and sharing!

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  5. Travis Ion says:

    Rebekah,
    This blog really struck a chord with me. I am quite a private person and often have difficulty in new situations. Having my thoughts published for the world to see is quite a difficult task. On thinking that, I demand from my students (Grade 3’s) to openly reflect on their learning engagements and previous experiences. I feel to take into account those “introverted” children and cater for their personal traits. Also, I feel, particularly working in the IB program, those of other students from other cultures than western ones, need also to be taken into account. Often some of the eastern students cultures, don’t match up with the Learner Profile. For example, a little Palestinian boy in my class has extreme difficulty expressing himself openly. I hope Im not sounding culturally insensitive here!
    I guess I’ll keep blogging on
    Travis

    • I said it in a comment above, but I think blogging can be a loaded thing. Cultural differences is a great example of something that affect the way someone blogs and something we have to be thoughtful of. It was one I didn’t think of and should have. And just like we differentiate assessments, I think we are going to need to differentiate how we have our students blog. It doesn’t mean they don’t blog.
      One of the many reasons I decided to start blogging (which I started in February I think) was it felt hypocritical to ask my students to reflect on their learning and share if I wasn’t doing it. It’s still a challenge, but I really do think it’s worth it. When I get a comment that starts with ‘it struck a cord with me”, then I feel like I’m on the right track with this thing.

      Thanks for commenting and I’ll be stopping by your blog soon.

  6. Adam Seldis says:

    Great post. I know exactly how you feel. I also get quite anxious when I’m posting, much more so on my coetail blog than my normal school blog. I guess because the coetail blogs are our views as opposed to the school blogs which are mostly directing students to and from work? The last thought that crosses my mind every time I press ‘publish’ is that this thing is going to stay out there forever. Talk about a digital graveyard.

    I was clearing out some boxes last week and found a journal I wrote whilst I was doing some backpacking in 2003. I had no idea I kept it. It was fun rereading it – seeing what was going on in my head – but also really quite embarrassing and I’m eternally grateful it’s just a paper journal that no one will ever see. My fear is finding some blog post I wrote today in 15 years time and thinking “did I really write that? What was I thinking!?!”

  7. I think the school blogs are completely different from our “real” blogs like our COETAIL ones. I’m really proud of my school blog, but that one is way easier than this one. And I get nervous every time I hit publish here (including in the comments). I think it will be fun to look back at this and see my educational philosophy in 2011 one day. The problem, as you rightly state, is that everyone else can look back too.
    Thanks for the comment!

  8. Kim Cofino says:

    Alex sent me the “Caring for Your Introvert” article a few years ago – as a joke and a warning, I think 🙂 I appreciate how different people react to blogging, and actually, I consider myself an extrovert but I agonize over posts the way you do. I take *for.ev.er* to write because I’m so conscious of what I’m saying and that it will be there “forever”. I want to make sure what I’m writing accurately reflects what I would say if I were speaking – because I do think by speaking. So writing is not necessarily the natural environment for the extrovert either (or at least not for me). I would probably like to podcast much more than blog if I ever got started (but then I worry that I would say something “off the cuff” and not be able to take it back). Oh man, this Internet is forever stuff is just as stressful and confusing for me as it is for the kids.

  9. I think the real point of this post, is that blogging is just hard work if you do it right. There are reasons that it’s difficult for me and those are different reasons from yours. I really am enjoying the process, but it really is a process. And confusing. 🙂

  10. pudgy says:

    I really liked your blog.
    I myself is an introvert.And, i have realised it over a long time with people around me.
    Since, specially i started going out with this guy who is a total extrovert and he started pointing out a lot that i do not communicate well.
    Someone, I still find my self a little different as compared to other normal people.
    Intially , i thought maybe my social skills are not well developed.
    I had made friends over time but they are very few but very close friends.
    I connect a lot with few but often find it difficult to connect with everyone like other people.
    So, i have thought maybe i should start bloggin a little and it might help me express and talk to people.
    I came across your site and found it very helpful.
    What do you think should be done?

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  12. Haha, that was a funny part about saying being an introvert isn’t a medical condition. I don’t think extroverts will ever see us introverts as normal! If only people could learn to understand each other. But that would require extroverts to sit down and THINK!

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