Is Technology Making Everyone Shy?

from the tell-that-to-the-anonymous-cowards-and-the-trolls dept

We've seen technology blamed for all sorts of things over the years, but this may be the first time we've seen the rise of gadgets blamed for a "shyness epidemic" (via The Raw Feed). Apparently, the number of "shy" people out there is increasing -- though, the article is quite short on details. It only says that 40% of people used to report being shy, and these days 50% do. However, it doesn't say when that change happened or look into whether or not there's any sort of self-reporting bias for this data. Instead, it appears that folks just want to blame technology, saying that the lack of face-to-face or voice communication means that people are somehow losing the ability to be comfortable in those types of interactions. It would be nice to see this backed up with a little more than just the fact that more people self-report being shy -- though, it's certainly possible that these gadgets do put up a shield that prevents people from getting over shyness. It would just be nice to see some additional research that looks at the actual impact, rather than just jumping to the conclusion.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. icon
    Lisa Westveld (profile), Sep 5th, 2007 @ 6:40am

    I think it's the other way around...

    I think people are less shy nowadays because they can share their feelings more easily without looking someone else in the face. As I understood it, topics like sex were barely part of your daily discussions about 30 years ago. Nowadays people talk about nothing else, apparently, on the Internet. :-)
    I think we're just more interested in having anonymous talks with strangers. We meet many more people today than ever before. And the fun thing is that when you do meet in real life, your friend will have had a chance to know everything about you before they meet with you. They know all about your fantasies and you know all about theirs.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    LoneWolf367, Sep 5th, 2007 @ 7:03am

    The internet is a mask to hide behind

    I know I use it as one. I am shy and have trouble conversing with people I don't know. And even subjects I'm not comfortable with I won't and havn't shared with my closest friends. However, all is fair game online. It's an outlet without the need to actually face anyone or potentially face consequences. I think that the internet does make people a little bit "socially retarded" when used to a large extent and the need to actually connect to real people fades away.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    RandomThoughts, Sep 5th, 2007 @ 7:11am

    Technology doesn't make people shy, but makes it easier for someone not to overcome being shy.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    matt, Sep 5th, 2007 @ 7:13am

    Re: I think it's the other way around...

    I agree 100% that tech has created better communication and less shyness. If it weren't for cellphones, telephones, cars, highways, airplanes, where would we be? Probably a heck of a lot less social as a society than we are now.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Mike, Sep 5th, 2007 @ 7:35am

    Technology can make you speechless

    Wrong! All this Technology is making people very isolated when in public. People rather text somebody while queuing in line then talk to the person next to them. They become oblivious to any change in their surroundings because all they are caring about is their own private conversation.
    As to the previous comment about being more open online, yes I agree but when it comes to face to face cowardice is apparent. If you have a problem with somebody tell them to their face, don't go home and blog about it, that was a definition of a Nerd.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    MrShy, Sep 5th, 2007 @ 7:35am

    Define Shy

    First of all, one has to define shyness.

    Shyness in regards to online activity is not the same as shyness in regards to offline activity.

    Of course most people are less shy when participating in online activities. This is due to the predisposed myth that what is done online, behind a computer screen-name, is done anonymously (wrongfully predisposed, I might add). People think they are anonymous online...which just isn't true. But that equates to more openness when communicating online.

    People are not becoming more shy offline, they are becoming less capable of communicating without a machine and a predisposed hidden identity.

    Where people are being open online, they are now being closed offline.

    People are forgetting, or never learning, how to communicate, or how to communicate effectively, without the use of a machine.

    It's a sad existence, actually.

    Take text messaging, for example, what a phenonemum...people texting when they could be talking face to face or on the phone.

    MrShy ;)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Stute, Sep 5th, 2007 @ 8:28am

    I don't think this is true...

    I was a very shy person, but after getting involved in various tech related things (going to big LAN parties, organizing LAN parties, being officer in tech club...) I would have to say I'm a lot more comfortable in large groups because of technology!

    I Less than three computers

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. icon
    Killer_Tofu (profile), Sep 5th, 2007 @ 8:54am


    I would have to assume that it is more referring to people being shy when talking to others / new people face to face.
    Seems way more likely.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    This guy, Sep 5th, 2007 @ 8:56am

    Does anyone remember that you used to have to write letters to communicate with people not in your immediate area not too long ago. People then were still shy, over weight, criminal, violent and many other things that people blame on technology.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Chronno S. Trigger, Sep 5th, 2007 @ 8:59am

    I'm Shy

    I'd like to say that I'm shy around new people. not because of technology or the predisposed anonymity, but because of all the crap I hear about. Someone gets sued for sexual harassment for walking up to a person and said "You look pretty" or someone tells a joke that turns out to be offensive to someone, despite the intent. Person A pokes fun at Person B and Person B drives 1000 miles to burn down person A's home.

    So I'd think that it's not because people are losing communication skills, it's just that this country is just too damn PC. Or at least I'd like to think that.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    The Man, Sep 5th, 2007 @ 9:48am


    There is truth in stereotypes. The shyness is not a result of technology, it is just that shy geeky people prefer to communicate that way. Have you noticed that good looking, well adjusted people you know don't use myspace or chat? I have never chatted, think it is dumb. Myspace is a waste of time. Get out of the basement, get some excersise to lose a little weight and live a real life. Technology is for work. If you use technology for recreation (video games, downloading movies / music, dating, chating) you are a loser.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Buzz, Sep 5th, 2007 @ 10:25am

    Re: Geeks

    On the contrary... I participate in video game competitions. As a result, I have done far more traveling around America and meeting new people than the rest of my family. How am I a loser? There is nothing wrong with using technology for entertainment (and I find it is the best kind because it allows me to venture into other worlds).

    Though, I do agree that chatting and MySpace are huge wastes of time.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    This Guy, Sep 5th, 2007 @ 10:32am

    And hanging out at the mall, bar or other place doing nothing but socializing is not a waste of time? Games, online networking and other tech things are good in moderation just like anything else.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    The Man, Sep 5th, 2007 @ 10:44am

    Re: Re: Geeks

    Competing in contests indicates some sort of prize, usually monitary. This makes your video game play, however unusual, work. Anytype of activity performed where money can be obtained is not a waste of time and does not qualify your for loser status. Bull riders, golfers, etc all perform activities in the same way to make their money. Sitting in a basement playing xxx (Pac Man is all that came to mind, I do not know any game names) without any chance at reciving money from doing so makes one a loser.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. identicon
    Math Challenged, Sep 5th, 2007 @ 10:44am

    I'd have to agree with that brief article though. Only last year I noticed that less that 40% of the people were above average in shyness.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. identicon
    Anthony K, Sep 5th, 2007 @ 10:59am

    Re: Technology can make you speechless

    I agree, technology has indeed made us some very crappy humans.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 5th, 2007 @ 11:02am

    I am only shy when I am naked in public.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. identicon
    Chronno S. Trigger, Sep 5th, 2007 @ 11:54am

    Re: Re: Re: Geeks

    So playing football with a few friends makes one a loser since there is no chance to make any money?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19. identicon
    Kostas J. (zatorg), Sep 5th, 2007 @ 12:25pm

    Re: Define Shy

    Well said, agree fully.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 5th, 2007 @ 3:06pm

    Re: Re: Re: Geeks

    So who here are losers cause this posting is for sure not work.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21. identicon
    DB, Sep 5th, 2007 @ 7:52pm

    Re: Geeks

    "Anytype of activity performed where money can be obtained is not a waste of time"

    I would guess you are a prostitute, but since you claim you are "The Man", you must be a gigolo.

    Either way, you are clearly a waste of time. Even more than MySpace or chatting.

    From what I've seen, there are many tech venues that have drawn out people who would otherwise have not come out of their shells. There are benefits and drawbacks to just about everything; it usually comes down to the aspects on which people choose focus.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22. identicon
    marktribbia, Sep 6th, 2007 @ 7:42am

    The New Shyness

    The Internet is enabling people who would be intimidated from ever interacting with others in the past, a means to do so, albeit in a less than conventional manner.
    Conversely, the Internet is allowing other, more outgoing types, the ability and option to 'cocoon' and stay a bit more private than in the past, as far as conveniences available in all consumer areas.
    And finally on the topic of privacy, the Internet and technology in general continues to erode at personal privacy. It's hard to call anyone using Myspace, Facebook or any other networking site shy, when many members so willingly post their personal details. If anything, the Internet is dynamically redefining shyness in ways not fully comprehended.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23. identicon
    name, Sep 6th, 2007 @ 12:50pm

    Re: Geeks

    i know a lot of people who use myspace to get laid (with people they know offline). so ur claim is meaningless and ur basically just an egotistical idiot.

    i think technology doesnt help or impede shyness. we have been social beings for a lot longer than modern technology has been around so i doubt that its going to completely rewrite our genetic predispositions.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24. identicon
    gloria tribbia, Jan 13th, 2009 @ 8:07am

    Re: The New Shyness

    Oh how nice to see your true abilities in full force. Keep it up!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25. identicon
    bbbbbbbb, Feb 4th, 2009 @ 9:51am


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
Insider Shop - Show Your Support!

Hide this ad »
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Hide this ad »
Techdirt Insider Chat
Hide this ad »
Recent Stories
Advertisement - Amazon Prime Music
Hide this ad »


Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.