Social Question

laureth's avatar

Extroverts: what do you get from hanging out in person?

Asked by laureth (27091 points ) August 3rd, 2010

I am painfully introverted. Hanging out in person exhausts me. Unless I am quite close to someone, I prefer the sort of communication that I can shut off at will: just like this.

I’ve heard that more extroverted people can actually gain a kind of energy from being with and around other people, and come away from it feeling better (rather than drained). If this sounds like you, can you put it into words? What do you get from being around other people (friends, strangers, anonymous crowds, etc.) that you specifically don’t get from just communicating online?

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35 Answers

faye's avatar

I get a lift in my spirits. Sometimes I force myself to get up and out of this house only to come home feeling so much better. That’s not to say there are definitely some people who are energy vampires.

Jeruba's avatar

@laureth, I think my life changed the day I read the question on a personality test (possibly Myers-Briggs) about whether social interactions recharge your batteries or drain them. Up until that moment it had never dawned on me that some people were energized by the very thing that exhausted me.

I suddenly understood what motivates people to plan parties, company socials, etc., which have always been an ordeal for me. What these events take out of you and me is exactly what they give to others. (Must be the first law of thermodynamics as applied to personal interaction.)

I also saw that there was nothing the matter with me for not being like that. Extroverts are more conspicuous, on the whole, but not necessarily more numerous.

So I think it is absolutely true that some people do gain energy this way, even though I can’t comprehend the mechanism either.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I definitely consider myself an extrovert but the people have to be very specific people in order for me to gain energy from being with them – and when they’re on the same wavelength as I am and they challenge me and speak thoughts I wanted said aloud, I gain strength and hope. All others do drain me.

MaryW's avatar

Very good @Simone_De_Beauvoir
I feel the same way and I am a person who normally recharges in a closed room with a good book.
I react to a gathering of likeminded people who express themselves well as energizing. I would recommend @laureth that you be intellectually selective.

YARNLADY's avatar

I believe it comes from hanging out with people who enjoy the same things you do. If you like reading, a reading club would help. If you like plays, if you like boating, if you like computer games, and so on, find the group most like your own interests.

DominicX's avatar

As much as I like communicating online, it gives me only a fraction of what communicating in person does, as an extrovert.There’s nothing like actually seeing the person you’re speaking to, picking up on their body language, doing something with them while you’re talking, etc. I like being around other people because I like doing things with them. I’m an active person and activity is much more enjoyable if there’s someone else there. It pretty much always involves talking, but there’s more to it than talking. Experiencing something with someone else, laughing with them, reacting alongside their reaction; that is enjoyable and energizing to me. It’s a combination of all those factors that I mentioned, of course. There’s just a radiance, an energy field, that I tap into when around other people.

I don’t know if I’m painfully extroverted; I don’t go insane if left alone. I like reading books alone, listening to music, etc. But I do go insane if left alone for too long (in other words, not talking to someone for a long time). Being alone for too long doesn’t take away my energy necessarily, but it doesn’t energize me either. It leaves me numb.

My boyfriend is shy. But he enjoys the company of other people. It may seem contradictory, like he is somewhat of an introverted extrovert. But what my boyfriend’s situation is, because he is shy, he isn’t good at starting social situations, but once he gets going and once he gets energized, then he gets on a roll and it’s as if he isn’t shy at all. It’s an interesting phenomenon.

Blackberry's avatar

Like Simone stated, they have to be a certain people. Do you know how refreshing it is to go out and meet someone that has the same ideals as you? I meet a lot of cool people that are fun to drink with or something, but if I was hanging out with people like those on Fluther, that are intelligent and I could learn from by discussing social issues and politics, I would go out everyday.

CaptainHarley's avatar

I went from being almost painfully introveted to being an extrovert. How? Mostly by just forcing myself to participate in group activities at every available opportunity. Parties use to drain me, but now I enjoy them greatly. I put a smile on my face, pat my friends on the back and shake their hands, introduce myself to people I don’t know, ask their names and a bit about them. If I like them, I may stay and talk to them langer. But I almost always leave with a higher energy level than I had when I walked in the door.

Ron_C's avatar

I like people. I used to be very shy but when I was a teenager, I found out that if you talk to girls, they give you sex.

Now, in my 60’s, I just like people. I don’t care much for drinking but like to go out and b.s. with the guys, I am in customer service and mostly like my customers. I don’t mind being by myself but enjoy being with my wife and other people.

Austinlad's avatar

I’m basically a shy person who over the years has learned to be able to put on a good front. Being able to do that allows me to jump-start myself into work situations that secretly make me want to run in the opposite direction—like leading meetings and giving presentations. Away from the job, I choose to spend a lot of time by myself, but when I go out—on a date, to a party or any other social occasion—again, I’ve gotten pretty good at psyching myself up. Most people I work with or know personally think I’m an extrovert. Boy, do I have them fooled.

bburfield's avatar

I feel like all of the cares that had been weighing down on my shoulders were suddenly lifted. I just feel incredible bliss. It’s the interactions with people, seeing their reactions to what I say, hearing what they have to say, and learning more about people and what makes each of them tick that makes me so energized. I get depressed and completely withdrawn if I don’t get time around people.

CherrySempai's avatar

I just love being around people in person because it’s fun.

There’s 7 people in my family, so I’m usually always around people (I guess that’s why I never get drained because I don’t really know what it’s like to be alone.) Even now, there’s four other people in this room.

I don’t really gain energy or get drained from communicating online. It’s kind of weird, because I love hanging out with people in person way more than online, yet I like typing a lot more than talking, because I’m better with my words when I type.

Hanging out with friends, family, anyone in person is easily one of my favorite things to do. Especially meeting new people, that’s always fun. :] Otherwise, I just don’t know how to explain it! I don’t even think it’s a specific feeling, just a habit.

Austinlad's avatar

Oh, I didn’t say what I get from other people. Depending on the situation, I get a chance to learn things and articulate ideas I was keeping to myself. Being with other people reminds me that I have a lot to offer, that other people have some of the same questions and problems I have, and that it’s just plain downright fun to connect with other human beings sometimes rather than be by myself all the time. Spend too much time alone and you start thinking everything you know and believe are the absolute truth.

bburfield's avatar

I completely agree.

Coloma's avatar

I am of extremely high mental energy, a fast brained, left handed creative type, and extroverted.

I love to socialize and have get togethers, entertain, BUT…I am also equally balanced and enjoy hermit time too.

While socializing in person is fun, I can also get my social ‘fix’ from a good conversation over the phone with a friend.

Fluther is a fun outlet too!

I enjoy my own company and am rarely bored, alway’s able to amuse myself or drum up some creative past time.

Inspite of my naturally extroverted and socially adept personality I often go several days or a week at a time without contact with others happily kicking around my house and recharging in nature.

My profile says it all, half social butterfly, half hermit. A good balance.

I enjoy people of all kinds but prefer socially adept and humorous energies for optimum good times.

Jabe73's avatar

Even though I am introverted I do prefer to be around the right people than to be alone I would say half of the time. I know I talk about a “vibe” level alot on here (lol) but for me this is so true. I can usually “sense” if I will get along in a social situation or even with certain people. I can’t explain but this gut feeling usually ends up being always right, even when I go against my gut instincts. It just needs to be the right type of people for me than all of a sudden I become “extroverted”. I still do enjoy my alone time alot however just doing my own things or working on my invention ideas/projects.

augustlan's avatar

What a great question! I’m an introverted faker, like @Austinlad. I’m able to handle social gatherings and be lively while there, but it takes a huge toll on me. I always need massive amounts of alone time to recover. Even being around my best friend in the world for too long a time has that effect. If I have a short visit with her, I feel happy and energized. Much longer than a couple of hours though, and it goes the other way.

lapilofu's avatar

I know a lot of people who I consider extroverts—in that they’re very social with a lot of people very frequently—who have to spend a few hours every day completely alone to recharge. I know enough of them to suspect there’s a pretty hefty proportion of people like that. Which I guess complicates things.

Jeruba's avatar

Like @augustlan and @Austinlad, I’ve taught myself to fake it, and in many settings I’ll actually take the role of lead or facilitator. But I too require a lot of recovery time. If I have two social engagements in a weekend, I start to feel crowded, and having to go out three nights in a row makes me a little crazy. My ideal weekend is a calendar with nothing on it.

But my mind and spirit do want the refreshment of new input from time to time, and I do want people I care about to know I’m interested in them, so I push myself. One on one works best for me; I’m always glad I did it. Parties; though: these days I mostly come home wishing I hadn’t bothered.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

I spent much of my life in leadership roles. “Role” was the correct term, as I put it on like an actor would, then escaped from it as often as possible. Such things drain me; the batteries only recharge when I’m alone or with one or two special people. I’m happiest when reading a book or rebuilding an engine; alone, with JS Bach or Sibelius in the background.

LuckyGuy's avatar

Clearly many people here are introverts. Why else would we be typing on a keyboard, talking to strangers instead of swinging from the chandelier?

I too took the Myers-Briggs test and thought the whole thing was so arbitrary as to border on being a scam. “Does socializing with people energize me or deplete me? Pick one.” It depends upon the people and the situation. Who here has not been energized by meeting a new lover for the first time? (My heart is beating faster now just thinking about it.) Who has not been depleted by talking a boss or a client about a project that is not going well? Ugh.

Going out and socializing is work. You have to take a shower, maybe shave, and put on pants. Then you have to drive somewhere.

But, if you ever want to have that new lover rush again, you have to go out and meet people.. Despite what the porn industry wants us to believe, it is very unlikely that the UPS driver will be so inspired by the flourish of your signature that you both end up sweaty and tangled between the sheets while 15 other customers wait breathlessly for their packages.

Think of socializing as exercise. It is part of a healthy workout plan.

CaptainHarley's avatar

@worriedguy

There are any number of reasons why someone who is an exrovert would be online: they could be disabled, they could live in a rural area, they could be retired and talk on the internet between home projects, etc. Just because you’re an extrovert doesn’t mean you have to be socializing all the time.

gailcalled's avatar

I have always found large social gatherings to be difficult and tedious. I am good at idle chatter, but I find it tiring. After five minutes, I wish I were home. My idea of perfection is three friends and a salad, preferably on my deck.

My definition of a friend is someone with whom I can share intimate information.

The only time I loved big parties was when I was prospecting, after my first marriage ended.

LuckyGuy's avatar

@CaptainHarley Absolutely true. There are extroverts that hang out on line too.
Lots of “look at me sites” where people are constantly updating FB and sending tweets.

This site tends to be a little more cerebral (not in all cases – like any Q that starts with NSFW for example) The participants tend to think out their answers and am guessing most do it in private.

I figure, in general, if you’re sitting at the keyboard you’re probably not out with a group socializing. Nothing wrong with that. It’s just a personal preference.

@gailcalled Exactly. I’ll bring the Riesling and brie.

Coloma's avatar

As I mentioned I am quite extroverted, and yes, as @CaptainHarley mentioned, there are many reasons that extroverts hang out online too.

In my case, one of the major mitigating factors is my enjoyment of good discussion and conversation on an intellectual level, as well as a love for writing.

While I do enjoy good friends in real life, I only have one friend that has a similar drive towards the more cerebral pursuits in conversation. So this site is an outlet for me because many of my freinds are the quieter types. lol

DominicX's avatar

@worriedguy

I also am an extrovert and spend ample time on this site. One reason for that being what @Coloma said, that there are only a limited amount of people I know in real life with whom I can have cerebral conversations with about various issues. There are a few, but I don’t always have good access to them. But the other reason is that just because I am an extrovert, it doesn’t mean that I am socializing all the time or need to socialize all the time. An extrovert just prefers the company of people moreso than an introvert does. We’re still capable of being alone and when I am alone, spending time on Fluther is something I like to do.

(Also, I have an iPhone, so I can access when I’m on the go as well. :)

CaptainHarley's avatar

@worriedguy

“Lots of “‘ook at me sites”‘where people are constantly updating FB and sending tweets.”

Like I said, I consider myself an extrovert, but it’s simply because I like people, not because I want them to “look at me!” I update my Facebook account about once every week or so, and I have a Twitter account, but I hadly ever use it. You seem to have a build-in antipathy towards extroverts, something I find amazing.

Here’s a good definition of “extrovert:” Most people believe that an extrovert is a person who is friendly and outgoing. While that may be true, that is not the true meaning of extroversion. Basically, an extrovert is a person who is energized by being around other people. This is the opposite of an introvert who is energized by being alone.

Extroverts tend to “fade” when alone and can easily become bored without other people around. When given the chance, an extrovert will talk with someone else rather than sit alone and think. In fact, extroverts tend to think as they speak, unlike introverts who are far more likely to think before they speak. Extroverts often think best when they are talking. Concepts just don’t seem real to them unless they can talk about them; reflecting on them isn’t enough.

Extroverts enjoy social situations and even seek them out since they enjoy being around people. Their ability to make small talk makes them appear to be more socially adept than introverts (although introverts may have little difficulty talking to people they don’t know if they can talk about concepts or issues).

Extrovert behavior seems to be the standard in American society, which means that other behavior is judged against the ways an extrovert would behave. However, extroverted behavior is simply a manifestation of the way an extrovert interacts with the world. Extroverts are interested in and concerned with the external world.

Source: http://giftedkids.about.com/od/glossary/g/extrovert.htm

DominicX's avatar

@CaptainHarley

That is an excellent way of putting it. Extroverts can be just as misunderstood as introverts. It seems to be pretty difficult for one “side” to understand the other.

I understand that introverts are treated badly sometimes for being “quiet” or “awkward” and such and no one should treat people that way, but that doesn’t mean that it’s okay to stereotype extroverts in return. You don’t know how may times I’ve heard an introvert say extroverts are just “attention whores” and they’re “loud and dumb” and all that crap.

Neither one is “better” than the other. It’s simply a different way of interacting with the world.

meagan's avatar

Control. I’m usually very much an introvert unless I know that I shouldn’t be afraid of these people.
When I’m with people that I feel are easily swayed and manipulated, I’m extremely extroverted.
Not saying that I want to manipulate these people. Just saying, it makes me feel better about myself.
(Oh the gross mind of a sick woman.)

Jeruba's avatar

Just wondering, @laureth: do you feel like this thread has added to your understanding? Did you get something you were looking for?

CaptainHarley's avatar

@DominicX & others. Please try to keep in mind that I was painfully shy in high school, but gradually allowed my basic nature to show through as I moved through college and then out into the world. It took some time and effort, but I used things like public speaking to help me. I wanted to be a successful public speaker, but I was afraid of making a fool of myself until I realized that most of my audience for those speeches truly wanted to see me do well. This is true for most of us who begin as introverts. Once again, the secret is balance, feel comfortable in either context, being with yourself or being with others. There is benefit in both! : )

Coloma's avatar

I had a facebook account for about one year, have not been there in months now, infact, I should probably delete it.

laureth's avatar

@Jeruba: Well, yes and no. Some people answered the question, and some people seemed to assume that I was looking for advice on how to become an extrovert (or at least how to pretend like I am one). The former helped my understanding, but the latter did not.

Perhaps the most fascinating thing I learned was that (1) Extroverts seem to get the most kick from hanging out with likeminded people who are on the same wavelenth, and (2) one good reason to be an extrovert is that if you “spend too much time alone… you start thinking everything you know and believe are the absolute truth.” It seems to me that if you (the general you) go out mostly among likeminded people, you still run the risk of thinking that everything you say that they mirror back at you is absolute truth, yet it feels “truthier” because other people think it. Perhaps is why FOX News is so successful – hearing the “news” say what you want to hear is a powerful argument for things that aren’t necessarily true, but one is “energized” by believing in.

But, the answers were pretty interesting, and I thank people for taking the time to chime in.
It’s good to know that even extroverts can be exhausted, just not as quickly and readily as me. :)

Jeruba's avatar

@laureth, I do think that some people imagine that introversion is a condition that needs curing, and perhaps the modifier “painfully” (which you are not alone in using) adds to that impression. As one who has learned to fake it more or less successfully, I like having a choice, but I’ll always revert to my natural state.

I’d question the conclusion about like-minded people and shared beliefs. That might have been a personal trait and not a reliable generality about extroverts. I do know plenty of extroverts who seem to thrive on a mixture of ideas and points of view and relish the challenge of thrashing a topic with people who don’t see eye-to-eye with them.

If I experienced social interaction the way @bburfield describes it, which is vivid and quite free of judgment, I imagine I’d be an extrovert too.

It might be hard for people to answer what they get out of being the way they are if they have no real basis of comparison.

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