Forumming for social development
I'm a pretty shy person. I'm not always this way, but I've never felt that I could really contribute anything meaningful to a conversation, particularly in group situations, despite that (obviously) not being the case.
I'm new to this whole forumming thing, and I was wondering what benefits I could gain from doing it, with a view to face-to-face interaction. It seems logical to me that I could build confidence from this sort of environment, but at the same time, perhaps these two environments are too dissimilar.
Yet I used to check out some forums and lurk around a lot, and left feeling really guilty and unfulfilled. I'm really aware of slipping back into that, and I certainly don't want to waste any time on forumming too much, as I've done in the past. :(
Do you think that using a forum is a useful means of breaking my introverted nature? Or am I better off just doing it in the real world? For those who have been part of forums for a long time, have you felt that using them has helped you communicate face to face? Or made it worse?
I'm very interested in hearing your views! I guess that your responses will determine whether I stick around or not :p
It took a lot of guts for you to post a thread topic like this. Perhaps you aren't so introverted after all. :)
I can present some insight from my own personal experience. I am an introvert as well, but over the last 5-7 years, I have developed skills to be more socially adept. Furthermore, I have naturally developed these skills thanks to the social activity on the Internet. Once I developed those skills online (in chat rooms, instant messaging and forums), I transferred them slowly to non-virtual life. Slowly, I found that I could be as funny, insightful or intelligent as I was in the virtual life. Eventually, I happen to cut off most connections from the virtual world and spent most time in the non-virtual world. These days I am spending a bit more time in the virtual world than I recently have. There has been a significant lack of intellectual simulation in non-virtual life and I think I require it. Joining this forum would help me with that. But I digress.
What I can suggest to you is to involve yourself in conversations online. Develop a character for yourself that is true to you. Don't fake it. When you write something, ask yourself, if that is really you or just someone you are trying to project to fit in. If you don't fit in to some online group, don't worry about it! Go somewhere else. No feelings will be hurt! You don't have to worry about that sort of stuff until you go to the non-virtual life. ;)
I know that posting on forums has helped my shyness in person. I used to be extremely shy when I was younger, but you would never know it if you talked to me now. I can formulate my thoughts a lot better when I write them down rather than talking them out, and posting on forums helps me to form my opinions a lot more effectively before I have to discuss them with anyone in person (I am a big debater online). Also, I run a military wives forum (and I am a member of a few others) and have had the opportunity to help a good number of other military wives when they needed it, which has in turn made me feel good about myself. Not to mention that I have become a lot more confident in my own strengths as far as personality traits go, and that has definitely leaked into my life off the forums. I have made countless friends who love me for my personality instead of judging me for how I look (a big concern for girls a lot of times), and I have built self confidence because of it.
I don't think that forumming teaches you how to talk to people. The only thing that can teach you that is going out and doing it. The more you do it, the easier it gets. I do think that forumming can help you get in touch with who you are because all you have is your words, no clothes, make-up, or status symbols to hide behind.
Thanks for your responses - this was exactly what I was looking for!
I really was scared to make that initial post - I was alright until I was half way through writing it. It sounds ridiculous because it really isn't all that important. I guess that that's one thing that I've got to fight through - to realise that even if I do say something stupid, in the long run, it doesn't really matter that much :D
*raises her hand* Another introvert over here!
I find I'm fine with people once I get to know them, but people I've never met before? RUN AWAY!!!!!! Makes it quite tricky to make friends :P Still I'm better than I was 6 years ago - I used to actually shake with terror when I was surrounded by strangers.
I like web forums and irc beuase they give me a chance to practice meeting new people (albeit virtually) and how to begin and continue conversations without feeling like there's some huge great negative consequence about to crush me like a gnat if I get anything wrong.
So, mostly, I'm just trying to say I agree with pi11 and, don't worry, there's lots of us around. :D
Writing posts is a form of socialising with people so you're going to get at least some benefit. But the match-up to real life is hardly exact, so that benefit will be limited. Hard to say how much though.
I think the thing you can work on the most is polishing the things that you say. You can practice your humor, telling a good story, and things like that. Does that make sense?
You can pick up some bad habits too though. Many forums can be subtley or overtly negative. This can start to get to you after a while and affect your thinking. They also emphasize debating and arguing your point. Being too much of a 'debator' in the real world can get tiresome with many people.
I knew this forum was the only place I'd consider joining as soon as Steve mentioned it. They can really be horribly addictive, and I hadn't spent any time at all looking at them for the last three months before this - I recall a ridiculous amount of time being spent on those idiotic imdb message boards... :mad:
I think I'm usually very self conscious when committing anything to writing. In this respect I think I ought to adopt Steve's 'ready, fire, aim' approach to things - in other words, make my points and apologise later :p
Thanks for your support everyone! It's very reassuring to know that I'm not the only one with these problems. As I said before, I'm generally awkward in group situations, and speaking to a number of people (even if it's in a forum) should help me become more comfortable as time goes by. Btw, this forum is growing frighteningly fast, isn't it? :eek:
Wow, ya know Sterling that whole situation of yours could fit me to a T. I've been very very overly concerned with what I do being "right" and at the same time I'll judge a lot of my actions as being "wrong". Now the problem with this is just that things don't exist as right or wrong absolutely, instead you could say that they are on a scale of rightness or wrongness only in regard to some context.
Now forumming does help with some aspects of face to face communication but not with others. I notice that when I'm comfortable with people, such as friends, then the way of expressing myself that goes along with chatting/forumming can easily come out, so forumming is effective in developing that kind of ability. However with anyone else, say people I don't know, all those shyness barriers come back into place and unfortunately general forumming might not help deal with any those barriers. Online interaction doesn't really involve the confrontation aspect that face-to-face communication has and for me confrontation is a main issue I've had with talking to people in person.
I've found several areas very important in working with these social issues such as: changing thinking to realize the nature of rightness and wrongness, changing perspective on my self-worth i.e. that I'm not worthless, and seeing that feedback from anything never reflects on you at all, just on actions/beliefs etc, the things you can change. I could go on and on but getting to the point there are two main ways that worked really well for improving these. One was using the whole nonduality approach of Steve Pavlina, which after getting accustomed to it I find it ingenious in that you can see your self as totally worthwhile and confident without falling into the trap of seeing yourself as better than anyone else..instead there is just equality with everyone/everything which I never before knew how to put into effect.
But aside from that approach, easily the BEST thing I've found for getting along better with people is getting rid of the barriers. Without the barriers you can stop making negative judgments about yourself when you get feedback and instead use feedback for actually improving actions/behaviors . For the barrier issue I used EFT which seems to magically remove negative feelings from just about anything. I'm still pretty skeptical to how it actually works but using it removed the majority of the negative feelings I get from any less-than-perfect reaction people have when I say something to someone. And I'm making permanent progress with that day by day. Since the feeling of being wrong is usually accompanied by some negative emotional reaction, getting rid of that emotional reaction generally works to dissolve any validity of actually being wrong. The EFT manual is downloadable at emofree.com. Free, and you don't need to buy any of those videos for it, the manual is more than enough to use it. The first time I tried it out was a few years ago and I don't remember it doing anything for me whatsoever. So I scrapped it. Then early this year I looked into it again, tried it and surprisingly it was working. So maybe give it a shot and see if it helps you out.
Sterling, online interaction can definitely help you become more extroverted and socially adept, but it all depends on the environment. Its good to find supportive communities online (like us! :D ) and let yourself grow and develop within those support structures. As you do, you'll find your self-confidence will build as well. It's all about having a safe way to let your personality grow to the point that you are sure it.:)
I went through a transformation like that in grade school. As a young kid, I never got along with my classmates - I was always able to relate better to adults, so I didn't get much age peer interaction. However, Christmas of 7th grade my family got our first computer, and I started meeting people my age (or supposedly my age) online through IM clients and forums. I found more extrovert in me than I ever had before, and when I got to High School, I was able to grow that out even more. I'm not sure if I'd have been able to grow as effectively in HS if I hadn't had a chance to develop in a less pressured environment first.
It does happen, you just have to give it time. :cool:
In the real world 7% of communication is "the words" and the rest is body language and voice intonation.
In that sense, communicating in the real world is largely about how you're feeling rather than how you're thinking. People seem to communicate emotions to each other, and what happens with people like you and I is we place a very high amount of emphasis on the words themselves rather than the emotions.
There is this feeling of being "inside your own head" which pretty much classifies introverts. I think the real trick to becoming an extrovert is getting "outside of your head".
Some people call this getting "into state".
What happens when you get into state is you stop analysing yourself and stop worrying about yourself, and just express your thoughts and feelings and impulses naturally. Typical people seem to spend most of their time in this extroverted state. Everyone gets "inside their own head" sometimes, but introverts like me seem to do it practically ALL of the time.
If you can recognize the difference between when you are "inside your head" and "outside your head" that can be a starting point for learning how to stay "outside your head".
What I do is I imagine myself projecting my consciousness out into the world. All self-talk ends and I express myself freely. It can actually be a very scary thing to be this way, because when I'm in this state I'm totally comfortable talking to anyone and showing them my true self. For almost my entire life i've hidden my true self, and so this is both exhilerating and frightening at the same time.
When I have conversations with people I try to project myself like that and over time it has become easier and easier to hold comfortable and constructive conversations.
There are many logic-based tips people can give you to make yourself more competant in social situations.
For instance I could tell you to widen your stance - always keep your feet slightly more than shoulder width apart. This naturally projects confidence, and it looks like confidence to other people. Myself, and a lot of nerdy types i've known, tend to stand with their feet very close together, even touching sometimes. This actually makes it hard for others to speak to you because they pick up on your nervousness. People would see that I was nervous by how I was standing, and avoid talking to me because they didn't want to make me more awkward and didn't want to pick up on my awkwardness themselves.
Another big thing is eye contact. Don't be afraid of it. Eye contact is not staring. Keep a normal, relaxed face, and just move your eyes into someone elses wonder what they are like. This might feel uncomfortable (it did to me) but it's actually a totally normal way to communicate.
Another big one is shoulders. Keep them back, and straighten your back.
All of these little physiological tricks can help you to feel more comfortable in social settings.
In my opinion however, the key is that mental switch of being inside-your-head or outside-your-head. Try to observe yourself and see if you can notice when you're in and when you're out. It worked for me, anyway. I can honestly say I have very few issues with nervousness or insecurity in social settings today. I'm not perfect, but I've definitely improved by huge strides. If I had to guess I would say that I started off in a place far worse than anyone here. Which makes it kind of ironic that I was picked to moderate this forum :P
P.S. I think the best way to use this forum is to get thoughts and ideas from people who have experienced similar things, and then try them out in your day to day life.
Thanks for all the wonderful suggestions!
I know that this is certainly a thing that comes with confidence. Yossarian, I can imagine myself really using those tips that you gave me. Any small tricks that you can use to 'fool' your mind into being confident has to help!
Actually, for me, since I didn't expect so many replies, I'm facing one of my biggest problems right now in this very thread - there are so many things that can be said, I don't know where to start! And because everyone has made such nice comments, I feel this need to address everything!
That's the main problem I'm facing when I'm in a group situation - that it's difficult for me to make that shift into making general statements and comments and telling anecdotes, rather than asking a lot of questions as I would when I'm talking to someone alone. What's happened recently, as I've become even more shy, is I'm analysing the why a lot more, as I'm thinking: "why do I feel the need to talk - why should I?" I'm completely immersed in my own head in times like these.
Without someone who is expecting a direct response or something, I'm very keen to slip away from the spotlight - too keen, and I'm becoming more and more scared of it each time I'm in that sort of situation.
I agree with what most people have said - that forumming isn't really the same as talking in 'real life', but it is a good source of advice and support, as I've found out! :)
wow, noticed how everybody here types in proper capitalization and punctuation! definitely feeling the social pressure to conform ;)
i think yeah, forums and online chatting and its relatives are good for gradually building up your social skills. it gives you the time you need to carefully write/type exactly what you want to say. but i think past a certain point, you just don't grow anymore, or rather you hit the point of diminishing returns. also, it does have its downsides; you start caring way too much how you might come across depending on what you say, and you have to rationally think about everything you say or do.
there was this study on communication that shows that only 7% of it is verbal, 93% is body language and voice tonality! forums and online chatting can help you in that 7% department, but in the end you'll have to work on the 93% anyway.
i do realize that if we're starting out, it can be hard, and any growth we can get is worthwhile. but just realize that you don't need to pretend to be somebody you really aren't. you don't have to say any "right" or "wrong" thing, you just speak as who you are. so it is much more a factor of who you are as a person. communication is just an expression of that.
on that note, i believe the easiest way to genuinely believe you have something to share, is to become the kind of person who does have something to share and knows it. lead an interesting life, develop hobbies that you are passionate about, learn new skills like humor and storytelling, etc. i believe steve pavlina has already done a good job on these topics ;) as you develop yourself, you realize that you really do have a lot to give to others, and that talking to people is FUN!
i started out being very shy as well, and antisocial...and at times, i still do...but once you make a conscious decision to improve (for me, i wanted to get the area of dating and relationships handled once and for all), you really start growing really really fast. anyway, just my thoughts, GOOD LUCK! i've recently read "tuesdays with morrie" and in it they say, relationships and connections with people are all that really lasts, really matters in life, and now im beginning to agree.
I would recommend getting out in the real world and interacting with people as well as online. I'm not exactly sure how old you are, but you sound like you might be young. Teenagers can sometimes be quite mean, and I think it's hard for some of us more sensitive and conscious people to interact with them.
I'm 17, and I have one of the nicest most intelligent group of friends in my school, and they can still be very mean and insensitive. If you are in a situation like me, I think it's helpful to have a thick skin and not let things bother you.
In terms of what yossarian said (which was AWESOME advice by the way), thick skin basically means that no matter what people say or do you will not go "inside your head," and you will stay extroverted.
Good luck to you
Real world definitely more beneficial. When you talk to more and more people, you'll develop more experiences to talk about with each person afterward.
The problem with forum communication is that it doesn't necessarily translate in the real world. You can be decent at talking online (like me) and be crappy at talking to people (like me. heh.).
For me, online chat rooms, IM, email and forums were my confidence builders and eventually helped me to break free (for the most part) of my shyness.
I still prefer to be the more quiet one in a group situation, but my online life for the past 15 years has totally helped transform my life. It especially helps if you're really good at communicating through the written word. That part was always easy for me, but communicating orally -- not so much.
Long story short, today I travel around the world speaking at conferences and hold my own seminars. I'm not a natural public speaker, but since I know my subject very well, I have learned to do a good job without even getting nervous anymore.
And beyond public speaking, I can generally hold my own in social situations as well. Although it helps when I'm at a social event related to my profession as I can talk about that till the cows come home!
Had the internet been available to me while I was growing up, I think my life might have been completely different. Although, I'm pretty happy with how it's turned out so far!
I've always been very introverted. I was home-schooled and forced to move every three and a half years. I simply didn't learn how to interact with new people.
It's still an ongoing process, but there are some definite points I can look back on as greatly helping me to open up:
I eventually got tossed into a public school. What a traumatizing experience, but I was forced to interact with people.
I had to get my first job. Oh, no! I answered phones all day, and even occasionally cold-called people. There's nothing like doing...
And, yes, I found an excellent forum on something I was passionate about at the time. I was even a moderator there for about a year before I left. I think I can honestly say this helped me more than anything else. Why? Because in all the other situations, it was always something I feared, even dreaded, but was forced to do. In that forum, however, communication was the key to something I loved, and I loved it because of that.
I'm not all the way there, yet, but what seemed almost impossibly difficult before is routine today...
-- Daniel Terhorst
All great stories! Just remember you're among friends here, Sterling.
Jill, what do you speak on? SEO?
Yossarian, I just heard that 7% statistic somewhere else. How coincidental...
I haven't been shy for years....
However, I have learned a social skill that came as a direct result from online chatter. (discussion forums, IM etc). And that was, it's fairly easy to "validate" people online....meaning....It's easy to give others credit, compliment them, point out their uniqueness and good qualities and mention things they stand out for. I learned that people in general soak up praise (duh!) but it was never easy for me to give it in real life....but now it is. If you can make friends online with your presentation, why can't you transfer that to real life??
YOU CAN! :)
I have forums (well one in particular) to thank for improving my confidence and comfort during face-to-face social encounters. I used to become extremely self-conscious and anxious in most social situations involving people I didn't know very well. After spending time on that forum forming comfortable relationships online, and having those relationships easily transition offline into equally comfortable, and eventually strong and close relationships, I gradually became more comfortable forming friendships with people who'd had no exposure to me offline.
The best part about forums for me has been earning the respect and admiration of others, and seeing that respect and admiration displayed as clearly online as offline. But then that's probably due to my choice of friends; I choose as my friends those who don't believe in pretending to be someone they're not. They behave online the same way they behave offline. I try to do the same but I usually end up talking a lot less in person ;)
I still get self-conscious and anxious in some social encounters, including ones such as dinner with not-so-close-friends which inherently have no cause for anxiety, but it's not as troubling as it used to be, and often unnoticed by others.
At the risk of sounding too negative, here's my 2 cents... :)
I'm very shy and introverted. In person, I rarely offer my opinion and speak only when spoken to. Socialization just isn't something I can do easily.
But on a forum, I can (and sometimes will) offer my opinion freely (everyone is entitled to my opinion :D) because I know I will most likely never meet you.
In addition, I have the option to proof-read and edit my posts, and much of the emotion and body language is lost.
Because of this I don't think it's the same as socializing in the "real world". But, I can't say that it won't help...
I tell ya, my parents can't believe I do this stuff...and I never would have believed it even just 15 years ago.
I'm actually just learning to make this particular transition. Sometimes I'm slow. It's so easy to be brave and extroverted behind that darn keyboard. But if you practice it in real life too, especially based on your online experiences, you really can do it.
The more you do, the easier it becomes.
And of course there's really nothing better than saying nice things about people, especially to their face and in front of other people. I don't know why that is so hard most of the time for most people. I am making a conscious effort to work on that one and so far so good.
I've noticed very little carry-over from forumming to RL. I was very shy all through highschool and spent quite a bit of time forumming. It did nothing to improve my social life or my empathy towards others. What it did do was that it lead me towards powerful resources (fastseduction.net, brian tracy, tony robbins, steve pavlina) and these resources gave me the confidence to go out and interact confidently in the real world.
So I'd say the internet is something that's seperate from "real world" interaction. Both are neat. :)
I think forums can be key to developing and rounding out your personality. Which can lead you to extrovertism because of your personality. But also build up how the process works in your brain.
I'm a fan of online games and while I'm having fun, and talking to a lot of people my brain is processing other things that are going on. I notice there's hermits, introverts, extroverts in the digital world too and the principals are akin to the physical world.
The hermits aren't talking to anyone, trying to keep attention away from themselves, and ignoring people. The introverts don't talk much and are usually stuck to a circle of friends in the game that they only talk to. Extroverts talk to everyone, and make friends with everyone.
So the more you talk on forums, the more people you'll probably be talking to and getting to know. Eventually you'll just be a digital extrovert, and find it child's play to find someone to talk to and make friends. It all works the same in the physical world from my experience and what I see. However practice in the digital world will not help you in the physical, I think it rather accelerates your learning there since you understand the process now and may not be so fearful of it.
Just listen to people chatting normally. How people start up small talk to break the ice, and get into much bigger conversations from there.
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