Explorers, Homesteaders, & the Ways We Like

July 14, 2011 @ 8:05 am | Filed under:

Here’s a first—a post I wrote on Google+ first and am crossposting here instead of the other way around. Just some musings about my love of meta-discussion and about introverts vs. extroverts. (The fact that I can write a 600-word post there is one of the many reasons I am loving it.)


A Twitter conversation yesterday got me thinking about why I’ve had such an urge to write about Google+ both [there] and elsewhere—both how-to kinds of posts and meta-discussion about the nature and uses of [that] platform vs. others. Two reasons struck me:

1) Some people, and I’m one of them, enjoy puzzles. When I dive into a new app, platform, or network, I get a charge out of poking around, trying to figure out the tricks, puzzling out the easiest way to do things. I enjoy reading other people’s puzzle solutions; I like the challenge of putting my own hacks into words. The puzzle itself is part of what attracts the early-adopter in me.

But I have plenty of friends who don’t enjoy the puzzle stage. My husband—a brilliant guy; this isn’t about brains—will be the first to tell you he gets irritated when faced with a new platform to figure out. Change energizes me; it annoys him. And if he clicks onto a new site and discovers it’s going to take a little time to find his way around, meh, who has time for that? He’s a busy guy.

He’s not alone; I have many friends who are turned off by the baffled-newbie stage that I myself find so exhilarating. (Of course you know this means THEY are the folks who stick things out, who finish what they start. Some of us are explorers and some of us are homesteaders. Both kinds of people help build a civilization.)

Well, here I am in love with this new terrain, and I want my friends to settle in here and help build a culture. If I can help make it more appealing to them by helping other explorers make clear paths, I stand to benefit by the arrival of excellent neighbors.

2) Thinking about this, it hit me that for me, liking something is a social act. I enjoy everything more when I can talk about it with others. I don’t think all people are wired that way—actually, I think this may be a chief distinction between introverts and extroverts. For some people (again I hold +Scott Peterson up as an example), liking something is a private, inner experience, not at all dependent on the involvement of others. In fact, if too many other people start enthusing over the thing too, that can actually diminish the introvert’s enjoyment. For the extrovert, it’s the more, the merrier.

(Let me make it clear that I LOVE and admire introverts. I married one, didn’t I! And my passel of vert offspring is pretty evenly divided between intro and extro. I have shared Jonathan Rauch’s Atlantic Monthly article, “Caring for Your Introvert,” far and wide.)

For years I have looked at the introvert/extrovert distinction as having mostly to do with what drains you & recharges your batteries (as described in Raising Your Spirited Child). Some people get recharged by social contact with others; some people get recharged by time alone. In the past I have described myself as an extrovert with a strong introvert streak because I do need a fair amount of time alone to read and think and write.

But what struck me yesterday, pondering the G+ meta-urge, was that even in my alone time, what I do is social. I read—but even as I’m reading I’m thinking about talking about the book, blogging about it, putting my experience of the book into words to share with others. I write—for readers, for sharing stories, for dialogue, for an exchange of ideas. I happily spend my free time communicating with other people on social networks. And for me, a huge part of the fun of a new discovery is TALKING about the new discovery.

All of which is why I’ve never met a Meta I didn’t like. 🙂

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5 Reponses | Comments Feed
  1. adie says:

    This is such an interesting post (I love meta discussions too) and I am so interested in your perspectives – explorers vs homesteaders, introverts vs extroverts. I consider myself an explorer, and I like puzzles, but only when they aren’t too big – too much information overwhelming my senses. All that newbie hassle of Google + would put me off even if I was able to have an account there (which I can’t because I can’t reconcile public and private identities – I’d have to stay on FB for one or the other of them, so what’s the point?) And when I read people’s instructions on how to make it all work, my brain shuts down – too much information again. So sorry about not appreciating your Google + help as I ought! 🙂 Perhaps it is because I am such a genius that my brain gets so easily overstimulated.


    I completely agree with you about introverts vs extroverts. I suspect most people who blog are extrovert to some degree, unless they are blogging to promote a business or career. I have a very hard time not writing several blogposts a day to share things with people – new books, pretty sunsets, random ideas, cool links. I put some of them on FB, but most of my friends read my blog. However, I know I overwhelm people already with my one post per day!

    Oddly though, twitter doesn’t factor into things for me. It feels too remote, anonymous, too many people.

    I actually think blogging has intensified my desire to share with others. As if my extroverted soul is finally able to stretch as it wants. Because I don’t really enjoy a book unless I know I can share it in some ways with others. And my day is somehow happier now I know I can tell several other people about it.

    But oh my goodness, look at all this I-I-I stuff! Sorry! It’s hard to know how to relate without bringing myself into it. I’d love to talk more about the extrovert/introvert thing re parenting, and how those Google circles create walls that may be off-putting, and so on … but I’ve already written a novella here, and everyone will be sick of me, so I shall refrain 🙂

  2. Melissa Wiley says:

    Adie, I will take your novellas here ANYTIME. Heck, I’d love a novel! 🙂 And IIIII like your I stuff because that’s how my mind works too—relating what I hear/read/learn to personal experience.

    I’ve been thinking about your personal/public identity matter (because I think you would actually really like G+ a great deal—it lends itself to meaty discussions; and because you know I grapple with a variation of that myself). One response I have is that even though I prefer G+ as a platform, I won’t be leaving Facebook—not unless every single person I love bails on it themselves. 🙂 For me, FB is about seeing what friends and family are doing. I’ll keep going to wherever they are, for as long as they’re there.

    I can see it working for you to use FB for personal/family stuff and G+ for other things, if you were inclined. Not that I’m trying to talk you into it. Just thinking out loud about possibilities, I guess.

    I think all the G+ tutorials probably sound like gibberish to people who aren’t there…and I’ve felt awkward, sometimes, writing such detailed G+ how-to posts when it’s still in beta and many haven’t gotten in yet. But the thing is: in order for my newly arriving friends (more every day) to enjoy themselves and stick around, there’s this learning curve to get past, so I have an urge to help with shortcuts through the newbie phase. 🙂

    I would love it if you posted more than once a day!

  3. GretchenJoanna says:

    Adie, Many of the bloggers in my group of blogging friends are definitely introverts whose blogs are a way to be alone and creative while at the same time having the kinds of friends introverts appreciate. But there are many sorts of blogs and bloggers….Most of my extrovert friends haven’t the patience for blogging, or even reading blogs, because they want the face-to-face relationships and talking, which wear me out. Blogging for me is a quiet and introspective activity that is restorative; the friends are an added benefit and not a necessary part.

  4. MelanieB says:

    Lissa, this bit about introverts and extroverts and liking is fascinating.

    I definitely crave the intellectual companionship of other readers and thinkers and find that blogs exhaust my batteries much less than face-to-face interactions so they are a perfect haven for my introvert soul which is perfectly content with not leaving the house for weeks on end but which craves the stimulus of things to read and ponder and people to talk about what I’m reading.

    But I think the latter part, the people to talk about it with is a taste I developed later in life and is acquired and not innate. There is a part of me that is quite content to just read, that as you say about Scott, finds liking something a perfectly satisfying inner experience. But I also know from experience that to really dig the meat out of what I’ve read I need discussion, other people to pull out things I don’t see on my own. I may *like* what I read well enough without needing to share it with other people, but I understand it better with someone else to mull it over with. That’s what I loved about being a student and a teacher, the community of readers. It’s what I adore about blogs and why Facebook will never really replace blogs because it just doesn’t feel as friendly for hosting long bookish chats.

    Adie, That’s interesting because I would have guessed that most people who blog are introverts like me. Certainly I’d guess introverts are represented dis-proportionately in blogs. There seems to be a much higher percentage of bloggers who are introverts than there are introverts in the general population. I think introverts are more likely to be writers.

  5. Kimberlee Conway Ireton says:


    Thanks so much for this post; it was an aha! for me. I’ve never been good about keeping up with Facebook or Twitter. I spend all day with my four young kids, whom I adore of course, but it’s draining. By the end of the day all I want to do is read a book or journal or write. I most definitely do not want to get online and read and respond to status updates.

    I have always felt vaguely guilty about this, like it means I don’t like my friends or am too self-absorbed to keep up with them. But reading your post made me realize that I don’t like social media sites because I’m such an introvert. By day’s end, I just don’t have the energy to engage with any more people.

    Your post gave me permission to let myself be an introvert without feeling guilty and to just be quiet by myself after my kids are in bed.

    So, I’m going to go read some more of The Count of Monte Cristo…

    Thanks so much!