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One form of shyness. An estimated 5 to 20 percent of the population in Canada (and presumably the rest of North America) suffer from CommunicationApprehension according to J.C. McCroskey, J.A. Daly, and G. Sorenson, "Personality Correlates to Communication Apprehension," Human Communication Research, Spring 1976, pp. 376-80. Commonly seen as stage fright, which is claimed to be the most dreaded fear (moreso than death) this anxiety often appears in other forms. Many people have great difficult dealing with people face-to-face or even over the phone. Instead, they prefer AsynchronousCommunication (if anything), like e-mail, memos, letters, etc.
This fear could explain why some people prefer socializing online rather than in person, and it would certainly explain why certain people would rather spend their evenings on InternetRelayChat than in the company of friends.