Wednesday, April 30, 2014
Outing an Introvert
As for Jung, he defined introversion as an "attitude-type characterized by orientation in life through subjective psychic contents" (focus on one's inner psychic activity); and extroversion as "an attitude type characterized by concentration of interest on the external object" (the outside world).
Other sources define the difference between the two as: extroverts prefer to be around other people and introverts prefer solitude.
OR...how about some people are quiet and reserved, while others are more animated and love to talk.
As is the case with most things, I am a combination of both. My level of introversion versus extroversion depends on my day, my mood, and my audience. I am nether overtly outgoing nor am I an extreme loner.
This has always been the case. While it is true that I was described as painfully shy when I was little, being shy isn't quite the same thing as being introverted. I liked being around people and even back then, I was quite chatty and social to people I knew. It was "the people I didn't know" that made me nervous. Then again, it didn't take me long to get to know people. One minute I was part of the era where "children were meant to be seen and not heard" to "what song would you like me to sing for you now?" (note to those that had to listen to what I now realize was a form of torture..Sorry!)
There have been periods of time, however, that my "introversion" took front and center. The first month or so of grade school, I threw up at lunch in the cafeteria daily. All those kids that I didn't know made me nervous which in turn, made me the kid to watch. At class reunions the subject of my projectile vomiting is still a hot topic. It must of been quiet memorable...or scarring as the case may be.
Thought Number One: Is Being Friendly Out of Fashion?
I have progressed...somewhat. I no longer vomit in front of large groups of people but I still wouldn't necessarily want to go to a large party without knowing at least a person or two. Of course, it does happen from time to time that I find myself among strangers but today, I would consider myself a moderate talker and an ardent listener. That is to say, I might not tell you my life story but I am interested in getting to know you. I would definitely want to talk to you.
smiler to people on the sidewalk. I am the talker in checkout lines. I am the waver to the drivers that let my car go in front of them and find that I judge those that don't give me the wave if I let them cut.
With all that being said, I still appreciate my solitude and don't seek out large groups of people. If I had to choose between a huge party versus having dinner with a couple of friends...the couple of friends would be my choice.
Why this subject? This week I have had the opportunity to talk with a number of people doing various jobs around my house: landscapers, cable installers, painters, even the man that does our quarterly pest control and I have discovered that comparatively speaking, I am an introvert and it would appear that there is a strong probability that I have a sign tattooed on my forehead that says, "please talk to me until my eyes glaze over." It was after several bouts of my listening skills being maxed out that I thought about how comfortable other people are or aren't at talking to strangers.
Thought Number Two: Is Technology Leading the Trend of Rising Introversion?
Coincidentally, I came across an article called Connection Error in Spirit magazine written by Steve Almond about a social experiment that he conducted. He called his experiment "Operation Talk to Strangers".
Seems that Steve is among those of us that lived (survived) prior to the time of cell phones and has noticed the impact those handy devices have had on the general population's ability to communicate...face to face as opposed to tap-tap-tap with their fingertips or with a square little box plastered over one of their ears. (for all of you that corrected me by saying they are rectangle...let's stay focused...you know what I mean)
Anyway, as I was saying, back in the early 90s, many of us thought the idea of having a "mobile" phone as they were then called, was a lot of fun but hardly necessary. It fell into the same category as the need to take your television for a walk. As the current technology of the that time gave us a phone about the size of a
Somewhere between then and now, 90 percent of American adults obtained cell phones and 50 percent have "smart" phones. According to Steve, he feels that society has morphed into an army of users and that smart phones have become the "ramparts of isolation" even when we are in a crowd of people. He set about to prove this by coming up with a plan to attempt to engage total strangers into conversation. He was especially interesting in trying to talk to people that had smart phones with them. He was sure that humans would prove themselves to be social beings.
Just a few years ago, if someone initiated a conversation with a stranger, there might of been an impression of friendliness. There also, might of been a time that talking on a cell phone would have a majority of people thinking you are rude. Those perceptions may have shifted.
Steve Arnold found during the course of his experiment that people often appeared panicked that a person was trying to initiate a conversation and they used their phone as an excuse to disengage from him. In other instances, he did manage to find some people that would converse. His explanation was that he became better at finding a natural opportunity to work in a conversation starter. If all else, failed he asked his target about their smart phone.
Ultimately, Steve Arnold formed his own opinions regarding the interaction with our devices taking precedent over the interaction with other humans. An excerpt from Connection Error:
I realize that people do use their devices to tell stories. But the version of ourselves we present via Facebook feels oddly airbrushed, a form of marketing more than a true accounting of our lives. Twitter provides a telegraphic forum for our wit, and Foursquare documents our hipster bona fides. But these apps are all about constructing a self, not revealing one.
Does all the swiping, tapping, answering, game playing, Internet checking of our smart phones produce more introverts that become more comfortable with their solitude? Does the interaction with a device become more enjoyable than interaction with other people?