I’ve always been a bit shy. I suspect it’s rooted in my nomadic childhood. I’ve often wondered whether, if we hadn’t moved house every three years or so, my confidence might have been higher. I guess that’s something that I’ll never know but by the time I was 17, plunged into co-educational schooling again after a few years at a single sex establishment, I was suddenly nervous in company.
It’s not just me of course. Most people have some areas of social discomfort and everyone’s different. Put me in front of a room full of men in suits and ask me to present about something that I understand for half an hour or so and I won’t bat an eye. Leave me in a pub or a party on my own and I am a quivering wreck. I’ll skulk at the edges and hope no one speaks to me. Or else I’ll dance and forget that they are all there.
So the internet has been a revelation to me. I have been facebooking and blogging for years and am happy to confess addiction to both. I’m content to chat to anyone and I will put my head above the parapet on any subject that interests me. It’s a type of behaviour that’s most unlike the flesh and blood me.
At first I thought that my propensity to open up and be honest with people that I barely knew was because I spend most of the school day alone and I was lonely. But that’s not true. I do spend my days in a solitary fashion but that’s through choice. There are plenty of real places that I could go for human interaction if I wanted but I rarely do.
Then I worried that I was replacing real life conversations with virtual ones because it was easier. But that’s not it either. I do talk to real people as well and hardly any of my close friends are on facebook. It must be that, like many others, I’m just not shy in writing. I am happy to have all the conversations online that I would never get involved in face to face. After all, it is highly unlikely that the diverse and frankly mismatched group of people that are on my facebook page would ever be in the same room at the same time. Even if they were, I would probably just make small talk or sit and let others do the talking.
It’s fun, this communication lark. Most of the time. I get to have incredibly diverse ‘conversations’ with all kinds of people and I can rant or laugh at the world in my blog at the drop of the hat. Sometimes though it gets confusing. The difficulty with talking to someone without seeing the whites of their eyes is that it’s easy to misread the mood. Because of the time lag, comments get out of sync and things that are meant in a light hearted manner get misunderstood, hence the wide range of punctuation expressions. I used to think that I ought to be able to express my meaning adequately by a careful use of syntax. Now I’m not averse to the odd winky face if required.
It’s very different in the virtual world of my teenagers. They have grown up communicating without speaking. One look at their facebook pages leaves me horrified. Their friends and they are direct to the point of harshness but in a few movements the conversation has moved on and it is, in the main, forgotten. Contrast that with me who will walk into a row on facebook bravely and then spend two days fretting.
Overall, I love my virtual world but I have to remember that notwithstanding my assumed bravado online, I am still a bit shy, a smidge over-sensitive and likely to over analyse things. I sometimes think I should have a month’s embargo and see where it takes me but then I think perhaps I think too much!