“I’m so boring online. I’m shy and feel anxious whenever I make a post on social media or leave a comment on a forum. The thought of trying online dating scares me because I’m worried about everyone judging me for being dull. How can I stop being shy online?”
Some people prefer to interact with others online instead of face-to-face because the internet gives them a sense of anonymity and safety. But this isn’t true for everyone. Here are our best tips on how to stop being shy online:
1. Share small things
Start by sharing content and links that are unlikely to cause any controversy or backlash. As you become more confident, you can share more personal opinions and show more of your personality.
- Make short positive comments on someone else’s forum or social media post
- Take part in a poll and leave a brief comment thanking the person who posted it
- Share a meme
- Share a link to an article or video from a popular, well-respected source
- Respond to a post asking for recommendations; name a product or brand that you like and briefly explain why you like it
- Look for an “Introduction” or “Welcome” thread and introduce yourself if you are new to a forum. One or two sentences is enough. Thank anyone who responds positively to you.
- Share an inspirational quote
- Take part in a fun hashtag challenge
- Share a photo of your pet
Follow the community’s lead. For example, some communities love to share memes and photos, but others prefer weightier content.
2. Find a couple of welcoming communities
It can feel easier to open up to a community and overcome internet shyness if you know that most of its members are kind and friendly to newcomers. Lurk for a few days and watch how the members interact with each other.
If you’re worried about accidentally offending people, do some research before you start posting or commenting. Scroll through a few threads or hashtags and figure out where most members stand on issues that are important to them. Read the community’s FAQ or rules if applicable.
You don’t have to agree with all the members on every point. Online communities can be a great place to swap ideas and challenge your worldview. But if you are nervous about talking to people online, it’s best to avoid a community if you think many of its members have views that are very different from your own.
3. Join a community based around your interests
If you feel that you don’t have much to contribute to an online discussion and you feel shy as a result, try to find places online where you can interact with like-minded people. When you’re part of a group that shares one of your hobbies or passions, it may be easier for you to think of things to share and say. You can find groups for almost any interest on Reddit and Facebook.
You might benefit from joining a community for introverted or shy people. The other members will probably understand digital introversion and be willing to share experiences.
4. Practice keeping your posts up for longer
Some people who feel shy online over-analyze everything they say and delete their posts quickly because they worry what others will think. If you have this problem, try to wait longer before editing or deleting your content.
For example, if you often remove your tweets within an hour, challenge yourself to leave a post up for two or three hours. Gradually increase the number of hours until you are confident enough to leave them up indefinitely.
5. Try not to take comments personally
Most of the time, other people won’t care too much about the things you post, as long as you aren’t being aren’t overly rude or controversial. But occasionally, you may get some unpleasant comments or criticism.
If someone makes a rude remark, remind yourself that they don’t know you personally. Try to separate criticism of your content from criticism of you as a person.
It may help to remember that you’ve probably read and forgotten thousands of comments and posts online over the years. Most people will only think about what you’ve posted for a few seconds or minutes before moving on.
6. Be positive
Encourage and compliment other people. For example, if you write, “Great drawing! You’ve really captured the texture of the water,” it’s very unlikely you’ll get a negative response. As your confidence grows, you can start leaving longer or more personal comments. Try to make someone’s day a little better. Taking the focus off yourself can help you feel less shy.
7. Stop comparing yourself to other people
Comparing yourself to others online—for example, on social media—can make you feel inferior, which in turn can make you feel too shy to post or comment.
Here’s how to stop making unhelpful comparisons:
- Remember that most people post about their successes online rather than their setbacks or personal problems.
- When you see someone succeed or show off a skill, remind yourself that for most people, success doesn’t usually come overnight. Try reframing their achievements as a source of inspiration.
- Stop following accounts that make you feel inferior, or at least limit your scrolling to a few minutes each day.
- If you feel insecure about your appearance, consider following body-positive accounts that feature realistic images instead of accounts that post unrealistic photos. Research suggests that making this change could help you feel better about your body.
- Google “Instagram vs. Reality” to see how photo editing apps can be used to create deceptively attractive images. This can be a useful reminder that if you compare yourself to others online, you might not even be comparing yourself to a real person.
8. Know that you don’t have to engage with people
If you are reluctant to talk to people online because you are afraid of being drawn into long, awkward, or hostile conversations, remember that you don’t have to reply to every message or comment. It’s not obligatory to defend yourself from people who insult or disagree with you.
9. Improve your self-esteem
It may seem paradoxical, but some people are shy about posting online because they are worried that no one will follow them or pay them any attention. It can feel embarrassing or disappointing when you put a lot of thought into a post but don’t get many likes, shares, replies, or retweets.
Raising your self-acceptance and self-confidence can help you become less dependent on other peoples’ approval or attention online. Before you share a post, ask yourself, “Am I sharing this because I’d like other people to know about it, or is it just for approval?”
It’s natural to want affirmation, but if you only post because you want approval, consider working on your self-esteem. Read these articles for more advice: How to get core confidence from within and how to overcome an inferiority complex.
10. Practice your online conversation skills
You might feel shy when talking to people online because you are afraid of running out of things to say. Our guide to making friends online will help you find websites and apps to make friends and build meaningful connections. It includes tips on how to start a conversation, how to bond with people online, and how to avoid coming across as needy or desperate.
Tips for online dating if you are shy
Ask a friend for feedback on your profile
If you feel shy because you’re worried about how you come across in your profile, ask a trusted friend for their opinion.
A great profile is clear, brief, honest, and makes it easy for other users to start a conversation with you. In your bio, mention a niche interest, an unusual ambition, or other intriguing information that could be a good opener for someone viewing your profile.
Realize that rejection is normal
Rejection is a normal part of online dating. Most matches don’t lead to relationships, and lots of conversations will tail off, even if you ask good questions and give interesting responses. It can help to reframe every conversation as a chance to practice talking to people. Adopting this mindset can make you feel more relaxed about online dating.
Try specialist dating apps to find likeminded people
Value-based apps can be a good way to meet people who share at least one of your core beliefs. This can give you a great starting point for a conversation.
For example, ChristianMingle is a dating app for Christians, and Veggly is an app aimed at vegetarians and vegans. These apps usually have fewer members, but you might have a better chance of meeting someone compatible compared with mainstream dating sites.
Ask to meet up if you meet someone you like
If you’ve met someone you click with, suggest that you meet up. This can be daunting if you are shy, but the point of online dating is to meet up rather than swapping messages.
Keep it simple. Start by saying, “I really enjoy talking to you. Would you like to meet up sometime next week?” If they say yes, propose a more detailed plan. Suggest a day and a place. If they respond positively, you can decide on a time together.
When you suggest a plan, try to reference a previous conversation or something they’ve shared on their profile. For example, if you’ve been talking about your shared love of art, ask them along to a local art exhibition. This shows that you have been paying attention, which will make you come across as thoughtful.
If you’re shy, it’s usually best to suggest a date that revolves around an activity so that you’ll both have something to comment on and discuss. Also, have a look at our guide on how to be less shy around others.