It’s no surprise “socializing with friends and neighbors” is one of our most popular hobbies. Humans desire interaction–we rely on one another for everything from comfort to letting each other know when we’ve got a piece of lettuce stuck in our teeth. Socialization is necessary and, as any shy person knows, we suffer without it.
For many shy people, the internet has been both a savior and a terrible burden. It allows us to make friends without ever making any real connections. It gives us a sense of purpose without ever pushing us out of our comfort zones.
But everyone talks about the internet as a detriment to shyness. Everyone knows this. Today, we’re going to explore the alternative. Today, we’re talking about:
Using the Internet to Overcome Shyness
Honestly, it isn’t easy (but what is?). But it is possible, so listen closely:
*As a note, depending on how shy you are, you may be anywhere from 1-5 in the process. This might be obvious, but skip the steps you don’t need.
Step 1) Finding the Floor
This is another way of saying “find common ground.” This means discovering your interests, but it can also mean finding what grounds you. If you’re lonely, depressed, or have low-self esteem (or all of the above) then you may feel like you can’t find the floor beneath your feet.
If you aren’t already, start pursuing your interests. Let’s say you enjoy writing. At this point in the process, you begin writing. You begin researching writing on the internet. You don’t have to tell anyone yet. This is just to get comfortable with it yourself. Join online communities that share interests similar to your own.
Also keep in mind that many shy people have low-self esteem or feelings of inadequacy. Explore these feelings and try to work through them. In all honesty, this is the hardest part of the entire process.
To summarize: find your interests; join online communities; work through your feelings of inadequacy
Step 2) Boarding and Blogging
In all likelihood, you’re already on a message board. You have several blogs you read religiously. But do you comment? If you don’t already, now is the time. You can begin with small comments that have nothing to do with yourself, but the goal is to build up to comments that express opinions, ideas, and feelings you don’t typically feel comfortable sharing. For example, if you disagree about something on a political blog, you will say why. Be respectful. Don’t purposefully offend, but do put yourself out there.
At this point, your other goal is to begin smiling and saying hello to strangers that you meet in real life. While expressing opinions on blogs is helpful, you don’t want to limit yourself to this alone.
To summarize: Leave comments on blogs. Smile and say hello to strangers in real life.
Step 3) Letting it Slide
The next step to overcoming shyness is to learn to let things slide. This means whatever you do DO NOT pay attention to rude or harassing comments. The fact is no matter what you do, there are some people who won’t like it–on the internet and in real life. As cheesy as it might sound, just be yourself!
To summarize: Let the negative comments go; just be yourself
Step 4) Buying a Webcam
This is where letting negative comments go will be really helpful. If you haven’t already, set up a YouTube account and begin posting videos. Comment on other people’s videos and begin to interact. This is a difficult step for many shy people because it means putting yourself out there–but trust me, it’s worth it in the long run!
To summarize: Post videos on YouTube; interact with a virtual community; let them get to know the real you
Step 5) Getting Off
Offline, that is. Now is the time to begin using the skills you learned online in the real world. While taking steps like leaving comments on blogs and posting YouTube videos can bolster your self-esteem and begin to help you beat your shyness, getting offline eventually is a necessary step in overcoming shyness.
To summarize: Get Offline!!!!
Overcoming shyness is a slow process, but it is possible. The key is to take small steps every day. Leaving comments on blogs leads to YouTube videos which leads to real life interaction. Good luck!