This semester I'm taking a course called Human Relations. As you might have guessed, it's about how we relate to others and becoming more self-aware. In the very first chapter, the textbook discusses the problems encountered by people who suffer with and the consequences of shyness. At one point, though, there is a prediction that the "future of shyness is bleak," because of how so many people are now communicating online instead of in person. The argument is: "How can someone keep 'in touch,' when there is nothing to touch except the keyboard?" And with anonymity, there is a greater risk for shy people not to develop social skills required to overcome their shyness.
While I can understand why one might agree with this (and maybe it is true for some extrememly shy person who is a wildman only in the chat rooms) I think it is ridiculous to say "technology is ushering in a culture of shyness." The text even suggests rehearsing in one's mind how they would respond in new situations to help build self-esteem. What's the difference between that and discussing problems with someone through instant messages or writing about it on a blog?
This past year, RL and I have discovered how IM's can actually help our communication. We can chat off and on all day. Sometimes it's simple how-ya-doings, other times it's planning what-have-yous, and sometimes it's serious stuff. When it comes to the serious stuff, I think it has really helped that we weren't face-to face.
As most of you already know, I am the talker in the family. RL? Not so much. But when we talk through IM's there is so much . . . I don't know . . . structure. I mean, I have to wait my turn, I don't get put off by facial expressions or body language, and he doesn't have that confrontational feeling I know he hates. It has even made our face-to-face convesations better and more frequent. We have become (do I dare say it) more intimate in person as a result of keeping in touch online.
And even since I've been blogging, I've learned a lot about myself and other's lives. Sure there are some that are superficial and for entertainment purposes only, but even then, getting to know other people (even if I don't know their real names) has helped me with my own insecurities in making real life new friends.
What do you think? Does the internet contribute to shyness?