Susan Cain called it the “extrovert ideal.” Those of us who are introverts know it well: the fact that more boisterous and talkative people than ourselves rule the professional and social landscapes around us, and look upon as perhaps being not well because we are…different.
And, no, before you misread that, I’m getting some sort of martyr complex or assuming a victim mentality. I’m simply saying that a disproportionate amount of extroverts seem to call the shots in prominent spheres of influence. Actually, I’m not even saying that…Cain is.
I thought of that when I read this hypothesis that those who shy away from having Facebook profiles may be antisocial or “suspicious,” because two recent attackers who made the news had avoided social media profiles. This is such a wildly nonsensical statement that I have difficulty justifying it with a response…and none of the responses that I can formulate off-the-cuff would be free of inappropriate language.
I’ll just say this: not wanting to have your entire life public, or even a large part of your life public, does not make you a sociopath. It likely just makes you an introvert. I’m an introvert. I have many friends who are. We’re not sociopaths. We just re-charge our batteries by having alone-time. That may be different from how you re-charge your batteries, but different doesn’t equal wrong.
Also, for those of us who are more tech-savvy, Facebook is the lowest-common-denominator, a poorly designed site that has devolved into a dysfunctional monster that vacuums up our data with complete disregard for any form of privacy. Many of us eschew Facebook profiles…either delete them or use them sparingly…for that reason. That doesn’t make us sociopaths, that means that we disagree with how this particular monster makes use of our information.
What concerns me more, however, is the cultural impulse that drives the desire to do what everyone else is doing. This apparently leads some employers to think that not having a Facebook profile means that you have something to hide, and to consider you a risk. Beyond the complete non-sequitur of thinking that one may not be a fit employee because they choose to act differently in a particular area…because they don’t conform to the extrovert ideal…there is something that concerns me more, here.
And that is, that Facebook now has us exactly where it wants us.
This particular social network has become so ubiquitous as to be the social norm for everyone. Because it monetizes your personal information as its business model, it wants everyone’s information, because that means more money for the company. So, it has succeeded in applying the social pressure on everyone to make them think that they have to have a profile on the site if they want to be considered normal.
To quote the title of a book I once saw, “normal is just a setting on your dryer.” I say, forget normal. Forget the monster that wants your information. I maintain a Facebook account because it remains the only way to reach certain friends, but I will delete my personal profile at my first opportunity. That doesn’t make me antisocial or a sociopath. It’s a choice of lifestyle. I would point out that many of us who dislike Facebook still make regular use of other social networks.
So, don’t let society pressure you into being normal. And, if they accuse of being a sociopath or some sort of nutcase, then feel bad for them. The extrovert majority, like the Fresh Prince’s parents, just don’t understand.