Online communities allow introverts to remain in the driver’s seat and determine their level of interaction, which is a big plus.
If you’re an introvert like I am, you know joining an in-person group or community is typically not our thing. Instead, I’ve found that online communities (and special interest groups) are the way to go. They allow introverts to do everything from develop personal goals and interests to increase confidence and enjoy meaningful social connections.
For about a year, I was a member of an online weight loss community. I enjoyed engaging with people, who, like myself, were interested in weight loss motivation, support, healthy recipes, and fitness tips. This was the first time that I had engaged in an online community for an extended period of time. For introverts, even online communities and discussion boards can be intimidating, as well as cause overstimulation.
However, I really enjoyed this community, the people, and the daily discussions. Hearing other people’s success stories helped keep me motivated and listening to tales of epic failures was relatable because we are all human. (In other words, at times, we all fail.)
Online communities can offer many benefits for introverts who, like myself, often choose the comfort of pajamas, chamomile tea, a good book, and a comfy spot at home rather than in-person activities. I enjoy social activities in moderation, but we introverts must choose our interactions carefully so we don’t find ourselves stressed and mentally drained. Here are the top ways introverts can benefit from online communities.
6 Benefits of Online Communities for Introverts
1. You can choose how much (or how little) you participate.
The great thing about online communities is that you can choose how much (or how little) you participate — and you can walk away (or log out) any time. Participation, in general, feels overwhelming for many introverts. I get it. I’ve been there!
You also do not have to respond immediately. You can turn off notifications. You can leave and return in a few days. If I had a lot on my mind, for instance, I could talk about it, or choose not to share. No one knows what is going on unless you decide to share. Overshare, undershare, or share just enough. It’s up to you.
In the past, I did not experience the same success in online communities as I did with this group. Many were flat-out stressful and way too chatty for this introvert. The struggle is real!
In this case, however, the stars seemed to align perfectly, my mental health was at a high point, and everything fell into place (for once) — all of which allowed me to enjoy being part of an active and sociable group… without having to leave my home!
2. They allow you to learn more about yourself.
Try as I might, I could never stick with journaling. It had been my dream in life to be an avid journaler — I could tell my journal all my thoughts, feelings, and struggles. Over the years, I bought many journals, which all eventually just collected dust on the nightstand. Unfortunately, when I opened a journal to write, my mind remained blank and uninspired.
However, being part of an online weight loss and fitness community allowed me to realize that I could journal as a way to (pre) plan my day. It wasn’t a perfect, foolproof plan, but it did help me achieve greater consistency in my daily routine. And we introverts are great with plans and planning!
In the end, journaling did not meet my original expectation — filling hundreds of pages with my thought-provoking words and inspiration. Sometimes it’s important to stop trying so hard! Journaling is a useful tool that I now use for self-motivation and daily planning. Thus, I am now inspired to write every day!
I often shared my journal in my online weight loss community. Writing or blogging online allows an introvert to learn a lot about themselves. We are introspective by nature — so writing can be a constructive outlet for sharing our thoughts and feelings.
3. They help you develop hidden talents and discover new interests.
Online communities can also help introverts develop hidden talents and discover new interests and hobbies (all from the comfort of our homes!).
Years ago, I wanted to learn how to knit, so naturally, I purchased knitting needles, a knitting step-by-step book, colorful yarn, and registered for a knitting class! I was ready! Or so I thought…
The class was held in person at a round table in the center of a (surprisingly) very busy yarn store. As you can imagine, for an introvert, it was mostly just an overwhelming experience trying to learn how to knit while not getting side-tracked by the conversations and shopping going on all around me. I left stressed and frustrated — and never went back!
One of the perks of the internet is that you can do almost anything you want online — including knitting classes. An upside to the COVID-19 pandemic was the expansion of online communities and hobby groups. If you are interested in learning something new, there is a good chance there is an online class on the topic.
Often, the avoidance of in-person classes has nothing to do with our desire to (entirely) avoid people. Many of us stay very busy with work, family, and other social obligations. Online classes provide a reprieve by allowing us an opportunity to do them, but omit time-consuming and tedious travel time to and from classes. (Plus, we get to sidestep the inevitable small talk that is often prevalent with in-person classes.)
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4. They allow you the opportunity to develop authentic and transparent communication skills.
Many introverts value meaningful social connections and authenticity. Small talk can often feel superficial to introverts. Online communities provide a great outlet for introverts to develop their voice and become more transparent communicators.
Don’t get me wrong — transparency does not come easy for me. I often find myself overthinking, wondering if I overshared information or if I am just “too much” for others. As introverts, we spend a lot of time in our heads. Then, when we speak, we question how that information is perceived by others. It is not easy to be real when you are an obsessive overthinker.
For the most part, you can remain anonymous in online communities, which is an asset for introverts who want to be real and share their thoughts. Anonymity does not make your words any less meaningful. When we meet with therapists, for example, we are honest about our thoughts and feelings. The same concept applies in online communities with the decision to remain anonymous. Not to mention, this is an important safety measure and protects your privacy, too.
In the online weight loss community, the more others shared their lives, the more I became increasingly comfortable with doing so. For me, it is hard to simplify (or compartmentalize) and only discuss my weight loss and eating habits. This felt generic — almost like small talk.
A journey is more meaningful when we share our experiences with others. Transparency allows you to reach a new level of communication with people, which often feels liberating. The downside, of course, is that communication (even on online platforms) can drain an introvert. Balance is crucial in all things. It’s important to know when it’s time to take a step back, log off, and just be enough for yourself for a while.
5. They can be a source of motivation, support, and positive feedback.
Whether you’re interested in diet and exercise tips, starting a new hobby, or just wanting to connect with like-minded individuals, finding an online community that’s right for you can provide you with valuable motivation, individual and group support, and positive feedback.
If you Google “online communities for introverts,” you’ll find that there are dozens of options to connect you with fellow introverts. The top search result is Introvert, Dear, which offers insight, help, and inspiration for introverts. (The Introvert, Dear Facebook Group is also an amazing resource!)
Online communities can also be a source of talk therapy and healing for many people. It is important to seek support from trained mental health professionals, but online communities can supplement counseling by allowing you the opportunity to grow with people who are on a similar journey. Finding others that relate to you on a particular topic is encouraging and motivating. I returned to the weight loss group daily for motivation, support, and the positive feedback that I received from fellow members.
Additionally, valuable insight can be gained from hearing others’ perspectives. If you haven’t noticed, we all do things differently in life. What works for me may not work for you. And vice-versa. But we gain greater insight and a fresh perspective by observing how others utilize their tools, talents, and motivation to achieve success.
6. Your connections with others will make you feel at home.
This online weight loss community I joined felt like home — the other members felt like friends who “got” me. Eventually, I was posting daily about my weight loss and fitness journey. Over the course of one year, I lost about 20 pounds. During this time, I learned a lot about myself (and others) through daily posts/discussions, private groups, and through direct messaging with other community members.
So when you try out different groups, see which one(s) make you feel the most comfortable — they should be something to look forward to, not dread. That’s a good sign you’ve found one that works well for you.
Is There a Downside to Online Communities for Introverts?
The obvious downside is overstimulation and burnout. Eventually, this is where I found myself, which is only natural when you’ve been posting and interacting daily on a blog for over a year. This is the nature of introversion. There is a time and season for everything.
Ultimately, introverts can become overstimulated online or offline, but online communities can allow an introvert to remain in the driver’s seat and determine their level of interaction. In my online weight loss community, one of my fellow introverted friends often only responded with emojis or gifs. I get it. Sometimes, my best friend and I only responded with emojis and gifs. That’s the best we can do that day. We are tired, and even words are too much some days. The great thing about online communities is that you can give as much (or as little) as you need of yourself.
Overall, I found that the benefits of online communities outweigh the disadvantages because they allow you (the participant) to choose your desired level of participation, which is essential for introverts. Even though I moved on from the weight loss community, the year I spent in it allowed me to develop new skills (journaling), encouraged healthier (and more consistent) diet and fitness habits, and I enjoyed meaningful engagement with like-minded people. My time spent in the group was just as meaningful (if not more so) as in-person groups because, as an introvert, the online community was an environment where I became comfortable sharing my thoughts. Not always an easy feat for introverts, but I believe that the “right” group exists for everyone — even introverts.