Introverts often tell me, “Social media is overwhelming.” I get it—not only because I feel the same way but also because I’ve studied how we’re wired as introverts.
Social media is intentionally designed to release hits of dopamine, a feel-good neurotransmitter that rewards us for taking action. The problem? Introverts generally already have a level of dopamine that feels pretty good to us, so having a lot more in our systems feels like drinking an entire pot of coffee. It might be exhilarating at first, but eventually it’s exhausting.
Introverts feel best through a different neurotransmitter, acetylcholine. It’s released when we do things like turn inward, have a meaningful conversation with one person, or fully engage in work we’re passionate about without interruption. Social media doesn’t allow for any of this.
Also, as introverts we use a longer, more complex brain pathway for processing that takes into account the past, present, and future. That’s why we don’t enjoy small talk (and social media can feel like endless small talk).
Does this mean we should give up social media completely? Not necessarily. But we do need to be intentional about how we use it. Otherwise it can become a huge energy drain.
Here are five strategies you can try…
Ask yourself, “What do I really want from social media?” When you know the answer, follow that question with, “Is social media really the best way to get that need met?” If what you really want is friendship, you may find one deep in-person relationship is more satisfying than a hundred online acquaintances.
Turn off notifications. Every time you get a notification, dopamine is released in your brain. The more notifications you get, the greater the energy drain.
Take a Cyber Sabbath. Each week I completely pause from social media for one day. This gives me time to rest, reset, and engage in other activities that fill me up.
Use a scheduling tool. Introverts do well with margin, which means having time to prepare and reflect before we respond. Using a scheduling tool like Hootsuite can help with the pressure to spontaneously post.
If you use social media for professional purposes, consider having someone help you. (Kaitlyn Bouchillon is my VA.) If you can’t pay someone, contact a local college to see if they have marketing students who need to do an unpaid internship.
When we get strategic about social media we can fear missing out. But studies continue to show people are more satisfied with face-to-face relationships than online connections. And professionally, the ability to do deep work like writing, innovating, and problem-solving is becoming rarer, and therefore more valuable.
It’s okay to be quiet in a loud world.
It’s okay to set boundaries in a busy-busy culture.
It’s okay to pause for reflection instead of trying to match someone else’s pace.
It’s okay to have a few deep relationships instead of thousands of followers.
It’s okay to do social media your way.
Cheering You On,
Want more insights into who you are as an introvert and strategies to help you thrive? You’ll find them in my bestselling book, The Powerful Purpose of Introverts: Why the World Needs You to Be You.