I thank Jennifer for the link to this article by Jonathan Rauch.
The article begins with: “Do you know someone who needs hours alone every day? Who loves quiet conversations about feelings or ideas, and can give a dynamite presentation to a big audience, but seems awkward in groups and maladroit at small talk? Who has to be dragged to parties and then needs the rest of the day to recuperate? Who growls or scowls or grunts or winces when accosted with pleasantries by people who are just trying to be nice?”
I read that and sighed a big FINALLY. This is an article about me. As a kid it was fairly typical that when a friend of mine came to the door to ask if I would like to play, I would say no thanks, I just want to stay home and read. As an adult I’m much the same. When I do the Myers-Briggs or similar types of personality tests, I come out at the absolute extreme end of the introversion scale. I do enjoy seeing friends and gathering with people, but not all the time, and I am mostly content to be home with my family. I have told Tony before that if it weren’t for him I would likely become a shut-in, and I have to say that I really do like the idea of a hermit shack most days.
In our family, Tony is a mild extrovert, Oldest Daughter is an extreme introvert just like I am, and Youngest Daughter is an extreme extrovert. On New Year’s Eve, we were at a gathering at a friend’s house. There were a lot of children having a grand time in the basement and on the second floor. Youngest was in the thick of it, enjoying it all. Oldest was with me in the living room with her face pressed inwards against a chair (and I kind of felt like joining her). It has been difficult to accommodate our two daughter’s personalities when one needs a lot of quiet time in the house, and the other would like to be surrounded by people all of the time. I still don’t think we have achieved the perfect balance for both girls just yet, and we likely never will.
The article quoted above further discusses how introverts are misunderstood, and perhaps even oppressed. This sounds extreme, but it is noticeable that the people in the workplace who are constantly talking in meetings are the ones who get promoted the fastest, compared to the people who are more like me. I may not speak up constantly at a meeting, but when I do, you ought to be listening because what I’m saying is important.
But when it comes to social media, it seems to me, in my non-scientific analysis, that the people who are the most active on Facebook, Twitter, and in the blogosphere are the introverts and I have been trying to understand why that is. I think it’s because social media provides introverts a way to connect with others, whilst alone in our own homes, and in our own timeframes. There is time to think up a thoughtful or witty reply, even when small talk doesn’t come naturally to us in a social setting. I feel like I am a smarter, funnier, and more interesting person in writing than I am in person.
There is no one type of personality that is better than another here. We just derive our inner energies through different means. But let’s all just work on understanding the other a little, shall we? Otherwise we, The Introverts, will have to take over the world, from the comforts of our laptops in our own living rooms.