Apparently I take my social cues from my belly button.
A couple passages stood out especially for me:
Introverts are not necessarily shy. Shy people are anxious or frightened or self-excoriating in social settings; introverts generally are not [I include myself in this group, definitely not shy]. Introverts are also not misanthropic, though some of us do go along with Sartre as far as to say “Hell is other people at breakfast.” Rather, introverts are people who find other people tiring.
Female introverts, I suspect, must suffer especially. In certain circles, particularly in the Midwest, a man can still sometimes get away with being what they used to call a strong and silent type; introverted women, lacking that alternative, are even more likely than men to be perceived as timid, withdrawn, haughty.
For as long as I remember, I’ve been perceived as “the snob” who is allegedly too good to hang out with the crowd. Not true – I just have no interest in chatting myself into being part of any given group, though am happy to be (and usually fun if) invited to participate. I’m also terrible on a first date, because I have no skill whatsoever with small talk – though if we stumble onto a topic of common interest, the words will flow effortlessly. I like to think I’m a good conversationalist, just not chatty.
I think the Internet has driven a lot of introverts into a common space – simply because it seems tailored to our particular social comfort level. There is no need for small talk most of the time. It’s socially acceptable (and usually preferred) to be direct and to the point in chat rooms and on instant messengers. Email etiquette guides stress dropping colloquialisms from messages, and writing succinctly in memo format.
The Internet is also free from awkward silences. It’s usually assumed that if one is chatting online, they are also watching TV, surfing the web, or working on a project or work task (or perhaps all of the above). The phone may ring, someone may knock on the door – the bottom line is, through the entire conversation the introvert is able to (as Rauch notes) “think before talking, whereas extroverts tend to think by talking.”
I’m assuming the friends I have who know and love me have come to understand that this is the way I am – and are ok with that. Admittedly it was somewhat baffling for a while, becuase I never understood it about myself. I always assumed I needed to be more extroverted in order to have a more satisfying social life. Now I know that’s not true.
Even better, I have a brand new excuse for those poor first dates. “I’m not bored, I’m an Introvert, and you obviously just don’t get it. Perhaps you should check out this article….”