Eight great truths every introvert should know
I deactivated my Twitter account around the time I was grieving the death of my dad. If I remember correctly, my last Tweet was in January or February.
When you’re a writer who has been absent from the literary world for over a decade through the advent of social media, it is necessary to do the homework it takes to catch up on what’s going on in the industry, to learn what journals and which editors are seeking work to publish that may be fitting for you to read or to submit to.
I had joined Twitter years ago to meet writers like myself, Christian novelists, agents, publishers. It was a way to keep a pulse on all the dynamics of publishing and to carve my way into a community that would welcome me.
In a recent NYT article, Lindy West wrote: “It’s where you orient yourself in ‘the discourse’ — figure out what’s going on, what people are saying about it and, more important, what no one has said yet…the prevailing wisdom among media types has long held that quitting the platform could be a career killer. The illusion that Twitter visibility and professional relevance are indisputably inextricable always felt too risky to puncture. Who could afford to call that bluff and be wrong?”
I learned through the years that although news and trends were rapidly available on Twitter at an alarming rate, the jarring sounds of background noise—competitive egos clamoring for attention—became revolting (and from Christians nonetheless). Joining them or echoing their positions felt inauthentic.
I quit because Twitter was not the place to be edified. Twitter fostered tension, exploited biblical teaching, and enabled mob rule and heresy. And all of it caused me to suffer from people exhaustion. I was getting headaches more frequently.
As introverts, we hope to impact those who get the message we’re sending: our dear readers, our subscribers, our families, our children. And we do it quietly, humbly, without much fanfare or noise.
Here are eight great truths every introvert should know about Twitter.
- I found that I often felt inclined to surrender to the opinions and ideas, and even theology of the loudest person. This made me less inclined to come out boldly against an influencer’s stand, for instance, on matters of biblical importance.
- I have no desire to be the center of attention. I prefer to stand by the wall, to watch from the sidelines. My husband says I tend to project calm even in heated conversations. This is not easy to do, but online, it is more necessary to protect our testimony from outrage lest we have it unearthed for all to see in the future.
- I exercised the power of the pause. I had to think before stating anything. It’s too easy to impulsively react, to fire back, to applaud or commend someone’s thought. But I needed to consider commenting carefully before pressing send. Pausing gave me enough time to reconsider responding at all.
- The pressure to be on all the time is immense. Influencing others becomes the desirable trait agents and publishers look for in emergent writers and that becomes the standard they use to measure the prospective success of a writer. Unfortunately, humility is not rewarded in the creative world where we work in solitude.
- I’ve learned to treasure my writing gifts more adequately. Authentically articulating my positions and convictions through writing is the best way I can make a difference. Passion doesn’t need to be articulated through fiery words and outrage for the sake of a following.
- I recognized that I don’t have to give up my traits and behaviors as an introvert in order to have an impact. Recently, I went to visit my mother-in-law who is terminally ill. I stayed by her side for several days. My family and I cooked and cleaned at her house. We made time for this. We were intentional about being present in body, mind, and spirit with her in her time of need as she lives out her last days in the confines of a bed, in a room with windows, in the presence of those who love her and who she loves. This is what matters in life. This is what matters for eternity. This is how we teach our young to love and to prioritize people.
- In lieu of randomly tweeting something, I invested my time on writing a note to an auntie, or picking a coffee date with a niece, or calling a brother or sister weekly to check in on them. What a concept! To connect with others who are real people with a heartfelt interest in my spiritual growth, my family, or my friendship. These relationships are built on my own terms. However, online relationships cannot be forged with great care and depth.
- Connecting daily on Twitter was impossible. Sharing daily was impossible. It was stressful and challenged my devotions at home and my creative gifting and output. I gradually realized that Twitter depleted my reserves—for creativity, for peace, for family, for discernment. It took me away from the physical and intellectual space where I did my best thinking—outside, taking a walk, talking to someone I love, participating with my children on playdates.
It’s so liberating to get out of the mob and the constant pull of hostile and divisive banter on Twitter. I can’t begin to tell you how much I don’t miss it. I have loved ones calling me and it’s so lovely to hear their voices, to listen to the expression of their entire being. This satisfies the soul more than a feed can ever offer.