An Explanation From A Socially Needy Person

Every time I hear someone complaining about those people who change their Facebook status multiple times a day, I smile to myself. I smile because I have become that person.

Contrary to popular belief, I don’t do this because I am bored or have no friends. I have a full life and real life friends. Really!

I would like to shed light on those people in your life who, like me, seem to reach out an awful lot online. Yes there are actual reasons for this behavior which I will from now on call ‘socially needy’.

Sometimes a lack of loin cloth, internet access, and my dog are what keeps me sane. I bet if Castaway Tom Hanks would have had Facebook, he would have updated his status more than I do.
Socially needy people are alone all day.
Let me explain the life of a self employed person. The most exciting thing that has happened to me today is I talked to my landlord. I went the whole morning having seen only three other humans, all at the hardware store.

I know this sounds blissful if you work in an office of petty people who keep you from getting more accomplished in a day but I will argue with you that a random break room conversation about the weather is actually more valuable to your sanity then you think.

After five months of self employment, I now totally get why Tom Hanks drew a face on a soccer ball in ‘Castaway’. I’m doubting he discussed, say, universal healthcare with the ball but those small talk conversations are what he needed, and what we all need on some level whether we want to admit it or not. Socially needy people just have to reach out online because there is no one else around unless…

Socially needy people don’t have peers.
Who understands my social neediness besides my fellow self employed friends? Stay at home moms. Think about it, no adult conversation and you have to not only be on your best behavior all day. Exhausting.

You might argue that I have to talk to people during my day, and I do. But think about what it feels like to talk to a client or boss versus talking to a coworker or friend. One is kind of high stress (you choose words carefully and are on your best behavior) and one is much lower stress and involves some venting. Guess who I talk to all day?
Socially needy people don’t see a lot of people during the day.
I am the kind of person who drives through the non-automated toll booth if only so I can break up a long drive with a human interaction. I don’t see my clients face to face most days and, while an interaction over the phone or email gets things done, it is no substitution for the human need to be with other humans.

Why do socially needy people post so much? Simply because it’s not as satisfying as a physical presence so doing it more often is probably some poor attempt to approximate that.

Socially needy people are social people by nature.
This means that the whole being alone thing feels unnatural for some of us, even if our work is by nature solitary. I miss talking to people in a way maybe a more loner type wouldn’t.

Socially needy people don’t want to bother you.
Bottom line, I don’t want to bother anyone. If I say hi and you are in the middle of something, that’s fine. I don’t want my status updates to annoy you. If I could walk up to the coffee pot and tell the random guy in accounting, I would. As my friend online, you are a friendly chit-chat option for me, but I am not offended if I am not an option for you.

Social media offers us socially needy people with slightly odd schedules a way to connect with others and feel a little less isolated. There are ways to deal if a socially needy someone is driving you crazy:

1) Block their status updates.
2) Tell them that you’re at work and can’t chat when they initiate something. Do this a few times and they’ll get the message.
3) If their behavior is hurting them, talk to them in a non-public forum about it.
4) If their behavior doesn’t seem to be hurting them but annoys you, don’t interact with them online and instead invite them out for an in person interaction sometime. This lets them know you care about them without having to have a larger internet presence than you’re comfortable with. Also, most of us get more out of sharing a coffee with you than liking your status anyway.

In summary, the socially needy are understanding of your lack of posting if you’re understanding of the fact that online interaction serves a different purpose for us.
So the next time you get annoyed, consider the other person and why they are being socially needy. In this world of online etiquette, I think we could all work towards a better understanding of one another.

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