Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Outing an Introvert

Carl Jung had a number of theories dealing with the personality traits of extroversion and introversion.  Most of his theories are too obtuse for those among us that aren't in the psychotherapy biz. (To all of you armchair psychiatrists out there:  I am sure your theories make perfect sense...on some feel free to analyze those within your reach.)

  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. 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.

Just like most people, I have evolved over a lifetime.  Maybe it's all the small towns that I have lived in, or the fact I married a man that knows no strangers but  today I would describe myself  a 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 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
shoe box, it wasn't the norm to see people going down the street holding their bag phones.

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?


CharlotteTBrenner said...

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.

Cheryl said...

These personality traits are now more narrowly defined because of research and ongoing studies. For me, the most important distinction between the two traits is how each fills up or refuels. Introverts can be shy or outgoing but find that they need time alone to recharge their batteries. They are easily exhausted by overly long encounters with people. (Overly long is definitely subjective for me based on my comfort level with a person or group.) Extroverts feed off the energy of being around and interacting with people on an almost constant basis. They tend to fade without people around them.

I don't think cell phones and social media sites are creating introverts. I believe they're increasing the visibility of isolationists and allowing people who aren't comfortable with or are afraid of people to burrow more deeply into their naturally withdrawn states of being. I'm an introvert and also have a strong tendency to isolate from groups of people, especially strangers. For me, social media started out as a fun and fairly safe way to connect with people. Over time, it's become a way to disconnect from having to deal with the awkwardness of making new friends in my own geographical area.

Another point I'd like to make is that each person has a preferred method of communicating. Years ago I worked for a guy who helped companies and their employees recognize these differences so they could adapt and find better ways to work together. There were three distinct types of communications targeted: written word, phone, and face-to-face. I prefer face-to-face communications because I can read facial expressions, body language, and attention span. I'm less comfortable on the phone but prefer it to email, IM, or text. Our husband prefers IM, text, and email because it's quick and efficient which is key to his ability to get his job done with a minimum of interruptions. Sadly, his constant work usage of these has carried over into his personal life with everyone. It doesn't work very well for me and we've talked about it and found ways to shift gears in our styles.

Linda R. said...

"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."

I can so relate to that. My best friend describes both of us as introverts and/or shy. I disagree. I love to talk to people, go to big parties, and hang out with a few friends. Sounds well rounded, right? I thought so. I am still uncomfortable around large groups of people I don't know, and like you, prefer to have at least a few people there that I know. Also, like you, this has been an evolution over time. With regard to cell phone use, yes I have a smart phone, but I use it more for email and texting which are my preferred means of communication over calling people. Then, I have wonderful face-to-face conversations with the friends I emailed/texted about getting together. In today's busy world that eliminates phone tag and voicemails. I hate leaving voicemail!

So is modern technology creating introverts or socially awkward people? I think it depends on the person. Interestingly, as a teen, I spent huge amounts of time on the phone, which at that time tied me to one spot. Now, when talking is portable, I don't use it. With hubby traveling so much lately, we do Skype, which really saved our sanity when he was overseas for 6 weeks.

Cheryl P. said...

Such an interesting perspective, Cheryl, as to how each personality trait would be filled up or refueled.

While I lean more to the side of an introvert, I would say I am energized when paired with an extrovert but I agree with your statement that there comes a point that I would need some solitude to regroup. My family members are far more social and outgoing than I tend to be so I recognize this on a fairly regular basis.

As for cell phones and computers shifting the level of face-to-face communication to a more isolated type of communication, thereby I think Steve Arnold makes some valid points. My Kansas husband is very extroverted but he is more prone now to engage in social media than spend actual time with others. Granted his work takes up a lot of time so he would be somewhat limited regarding time for socializing anyway. Which lead to the dynamic for him and hoards of others like him...they spend so much time interacting "friends" via technology it has morphed into a new kind of social life. Instead of picking up a phone and calling someone, penning an actual letter to someone, or meeting a friends after work for a drink, there are a faction of people that will spend 2, 3 or whatever hours today on Facebook. With the repetitive nature of spending so much time at a keyboard, the new familiarity that evolves from this type of socialization eclipses what used to be the norm.

I have to think that many of the isolationists using their devices or what we would perceive as isolationists, weren't more social when they had less capability to lean on electronics.

I belong to a couple of social groups that are mainly women's social clubs but there are groups within the group that have formed such as Couples Canasta or Couples Supper Club. When I was a kid, parents met regularly with friends for the purpose of playing cards but it is getting rarer and rarer. Are we busier? Have people's need for companionship changed? Are people substituting online games in favor of "in-person" games?

Interesting comment about our shared husband preferring text and emails over phone. I would be curious if we polled a sizeable group of men and women, if there is a preference dictated by gender.

I am like you that I much prefer to talk to a person face to face so I can see the body language, secondary would be phone and lastly email. The capacity for misunderstanding is greatly enhanced when the intonation and body language is removed.

My Kansas husband and I have divided up our communications. I call people that need to be called as far as any business/consumer dealings go. He posts any and all updates to social media which is rampant with our family members passing info to and fro. We share contacting friends via phone or written correspondence.

I am thinking that being a hermit (along with hubby) would have some merit...but then I don't think he would go for it unless there was high speed Internet involved.

Cheryl P. said...

You and I would be such good friends, I think. You like cats and people. (not necessarily in that order)

The one characteristic that I have that makes no sense, is that while I don't want to be in a large group of people socially where I know no one, when I do public speaking, I have no fear as long as the crowd is that of "strangers". For years I did corporate training and really enjoyed it but I hated when there were friends within the group because friends would judge me through a different perspective than a random instructor.

I use a smart phone as well but for a number of things besides calling people. I have become very dependent on calendars, timers, lists and such. Dropping texts and emails for quick responses, is one of life's greatest conveniences. BUT...if I wanted to convey something to a friend, I would most likely call them.

My husband travels 90 percent of the time so I, too, Skype...but I hate it. It's fine with my husband as there are no inhibition as to what I may look like or if I am in my PJs but I wouldn't be comfortable calling most people and have them looking at me. I would HATE that. Plus, I like to walk around and multitask when I am on the phone.

Linda R. said...

Well the order of 'cats and people' depends greatly on both the cats and the people. ;)

I was thinking we'd get along just fine, too.

Hubby is the only one I Skype with so it's OK, but like you, I would hesitate to Skype with others. I can't imagine my husband traveling 90% of the time. It has been bad enough the last few months. He has been home a total of 3 weeks since the first of Feb.

Cheryl P. said... are so right. Some cats vs. some people would be a close race.

My husband also has been gone a lot since the first of the year. I think over the years I have adapted to his constant travel. I do like it when I go visit though. It was nice to spend a portion of December in Germany.

babs (beetle) said...

I'd say that I was a bit of both. I don't mind my own company, but also love a get together with plenty of people. I am no good with people I don't know, but I'm fine if they make the first move towards a conversation. Shyness has always been my problem, though I'm getting better with age.

I like my iPad, but would automatically put it down if company arrived. It doesn't interfere with my social life, but maybe that's due to my age and upbringing also. some young members of my family have been known to text friends while talking to me and I find that very disconcerting.

Chubby Chatterbox said...

I miss the good ole days when you could assume a person talking to themselves on the street was crazy instead of talking on a cell phone.

Jo-Anne said...

I have always been a shy withdrawn person but as I age I have become more open but not that open that I can mix with people with ease unless I have had a few drinks then I will mix with everyone and be all open and so friendly.......................I don't talk while waiting in line but I do wave to people who let me cut in while driving and I once went up to a complete stranger and gave her a hug because she was crying. Ok I have no idea what I am other than human and a mother and grandmother and fat yeah I am fat but none of those things have anything to do with this post

Debra She Who Seeks said...

Apparently many, if not most, bloggers are introverts. I know I certainly am!

Pickleope said...

Thought on Thought Number One: No. As an introvert, who, through my vocation, am forced to be extroverted, I've noticed that people are almost too friendly, to the point where they don't understand the social queues and physical mannerisms I'm giving off clearly indicating I am done with this conversation. Being trapped in excessive sharing sessions is a daily conversation pitfall for me.
Thought on Thought Number Two: Steve Arnold didn't get a large enough or diverse enough sampling size. There certainly are those people who use tech as a way to indulge their introversion and create a buffer between them and real life while feeling extroverted. But from what I've seen (and I am a pseudo-scientist) is that tech can draw people out of their shell and coerce introverts to say "yes" and have real experiences so that they don't appear boring on social media.
Maybe we should/have to redraw the psychological lines to account for how limiting "introvert/extrovert" are.

Cheryl P. said...

I absolutely relate to the "bit of both". I don't mind being alone and most of my hobbies are solitary activities such as gardening, sewing, reading etc. but I enjoy spending time with friends and family as well. It's interesting that so many of us have commented that we have become less shy as we have gotten older. Maybe we are less concerned about being judged by others or at least less than we did when we were young or perhaps we have developed a stronger sense of who we are.

I use my smart phone and iPad a lot but usually they aren't out when I am with people. I turn off my ringer a lot as most calls can be returned. Rarely do I have my phone in hand expecting a call but if I do, I tell the person I am with that I might be interrupted. That is extremely rare that I have talked on a phone call when being in the company of someone else.

I find it very annoying when people are taking multiple calls, texting or emailing during a lunch or meeting. Bad phone etiquette is becoming a whole new area of rudeness.

Cheryl P. said...

Hahaha...funny that you should say that. I have done a couple of posts about the fact I talk on a bluetooth for an hour each morning at 6 AM to a friend in Texas while we walk. I take the same 4 mile path and have for 10 years. There have been a number of people that have either asked me or asked neighbors who I am talking to and some have jumped to the conclusion that there is something wrong with me. (which may be true but that isn't why I am talking to myself)

Cheryl P. said...

I think there are a lot of people that become less inhibited after a drink or two. I personally know several very shy people that appear extroverted after drinking.

I think people that reach out to others when they are distressed are very kind. It's hard to know any more whether to approach someone but seeing someone crying would be cause to ask if they need some help.

Perhaps, that maternal instinct trumps one's shyness.

Cheryl P. said...

I wouldn't be surprised if most bloggers lean toward being introverts. Writing is a very solitary endeavor. Interesting aspect of blogging though is that it becomes social over time. An odd style of extroversion, I suppose as most bloggers never actually meet. (some do).

Cheryl P. said...

There are several interesting aspects associated with your comment. Our levels of introversion and extroversion may vary greatly between our professional life and our personal life. Every job I ever have had, has been a job that required me to work directly with lots of other people. . Within those jobs, I would had to develop various skills regarding how to effectively communicate. For example: The skill set of managing an unemployment office might enhance my ability to read people's truthfulness versus the years I was a corporate trainer teaching classes on of all things "Effective Communication."

I TOTALLY agree with you about the uncomfortable position of being in a group where people are over-sharing. For example: you might be surprised how often the words "blow" and "suck" come into the dialog of a job interview from the applicant. (and not in the sense of a job that sucks or a job that blows)

While I enjoyed the article in Spirit and found it very interesting, I agree that it isn't a qualified "study" but more of an attempt to satisfy Steve Arnold's curiosity, He was wondering how approachable cell phone users would be and set out to get the answer. Even in Steve's little experiment, he talked about how he developed the skill of sizing up his target and figuring out a topic to engage the person he was trying to talk to. In time he surely would of become proficient in recognizing the people like you that exhibited body language that indicated "I am done with this conversation."

I have to think there are all kinds of new studies reexamining the behaviors of introverts and extroverts now that computers have become so prominent in how we live and communicate. We have talked in the comment sections on both your blog and mine, how people feel so justified spouting off their views often in inappropriate ways. There are probably studies relating to the number of introverts that feel liberated by the anonymity created by the Internet. So an overtly introverted person may become an extrovert of sorts while using the computer but struggle with isolation when dealing with real people. We continually hear about the perpetrator of crimes being loners but invariably there are reports of their extensive presence online or a use of some type of technology related to computers found in their homes.

As with all things.... an individual's level of extroversion or introversion probably changes continually based on external and internal factors. Just as our emotions continually fluctuate causing our behavior to become a moving target.

Wendy said...

Well, this post certainly resonates with a lot of us! I think I agree with most comments. I read the whole article by Steve Almond. Favourite line: “Why do people need phones if they’re walking around outside?” I asked. In many ways, I would still ask that. I own a smart phone but it is not necessary to continually be connected via the phone. Space, quiet and privacy is important. And in those very words, I have identified myself as an introvert. I use to be called Shy, which back then had a negative connotation. Thankfully, my mother understood my character and didn’t force me to ‘talk’. Today I too have evolved into a smiler and waver, and making easy small talk because I’ve learned that simply friendliness is a core component of society. As a result, I’ve developed surprisingly long term relationships with people I only see in the context of their job- ie the cashier at the grocery store or library I always frequent. While these are not what one may term ‘friends’ they are beyond the word acquaintances since we both have long history of what is going on in our lives over the years. I also married a person who sees no one as a stranger. Obviously, we are both living the maxim that opposites attract. He can be one of those who’d talk until your eyes glazed over , but he has evolved to recognizing those eyes ;0 I don’t know if technology is making people more introvert, per se, but it certainly does disallow opportunities to meet with new people. When sitting on a bus, in the ‘old days’ one just might strike up a conversation, not so today with people on their phones doing everything imaginable. I think this is a loss for society in general, as it precludes people from socializing with people in their area that they would not usually talk to. Is this good? Community is far beyond only talking with one's friends. Society is built on both strong and weak relationships, where we care about others, simply because we may have a brief conversation with them everyday in the elevator riding up to our apt. I think this is less about introvert/extravert than about how technology interferes with the random ease of brief personal encounters. This researcher went out to purposely interact with others, but , I doubt he does that in his ‘real’ life. There is more of a barrier now to speaking to someone when they have their phone in hand . And as an introvert, that barrier makes it harder for me to attempt to be friendly.

Aging Introvert wrote a post on introvert and being alone. It is a good read. So are the books, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in A World That Can’t Stop Talking and Sophie Dembling’s The Introvert’s Way, Living a Quiet Life in a Noisy World.

Cheryl P. said...

You have given this topic some thought, I see. I hadn't really thought of myself as either excessively introverted or extroverted...more middle of the road with occasional veering to one side or the other. I, too would of been considered shy as a kid but I always had my small group of friends so I never considered myself isolated or lonely. I clicked on the link to Aging Introvert as well as the link in your comment on Aging Introvert's blog.

Very interesting. I hadn't thought about the ramifications associated with those that are not participatory in class or quiet on the job. Once I got comfortable in my environment, I wasn't particularly quiet. I guess, I haven't ever felt slighted but more at a disadvantage as far as feeling comfortable in new least for awhile.

You and I have many things in common. I, too develop relationships that technically wouldn't be called "friendships" but are more than "acquaintances". I tend to be a creature of habit (again because I get comfortable) and use the same businesses and service providers for years. The man that does my hair and I have a virtual talk fest,.... same goes for the woman that does my nails. I actually would consider them friends but then I never see them outside of the time I am doing business with them.

I totally agree with your statement about technology inhibiting random encounters/exchanges and impromptu conversation. I had a lovely conversation on a train in Germany with a woman that resulted in ongoing emails. Had she had her nose in a computer or phone as others in the train car were during most of the trip, I wouldn't of started talking to her. I can think of a number of other examples that prove that point as well.

As for husbands. I love that your husband recognizes when people have had enough "chatter". I wouldn't bet money on my husband recognizing that. He has non-stop energy and enthusiasm and seems under the false impression that others work like that.

I would be curious if Steve Arnold has changed in anyway by virtue of doing his little social experiment. Perhaps prior to that exercise he rarely approached people but there is the chance he enjoyed the interactions enough that in the future he will seek out conversations with strangers.

If there is contact information in the Spirit magazine, I might ask that question of him.

lisleman said...

I wonder if anyone read this on a smartphone. I doubt it. It seems the new generation wants to eat more and read less. You don't need words, just take a selfie.
(oh let me insert a plug here for my related parody - )

So the bottom line (or the low bar) is social media is making us less social.
BTW - I also hate large crowds but have given presentations to groups.

The situation is very important in these interactions. If the researcher, was approaching people say leaving a restroom vs. waiting for a bus, he would get different reactions. In fact if he stopped a person entering a restroom he would get shoved out of the way.

lisleman said...

I wonder if there is an opportunity (ha, maybe an app which would be ironic) to offer classes on real life interaction.
Also, another thought I didn't put in my comment. I definitely am more comfortable approaching strangers today as an older man (goofy old guy?) than as a younger man. I don't know for sure but I think society gives me more of a pass or I just don't care if it does.

Wendy said...

I think that being an 'older' man allows you the privilege of interacting with women especially without them feeling you are talking with them to just try to pick them up...right. Right? Just teasing. As for that app idea, I say we get going on this one asap, you and me...okay...we'll include Cheryl too since after all it IS her blog...Why you ask? Why, we'd be millionaires soon...since all those of the younger generation would buy that app for sure! Ah, irony indeed.

Cheryl P. said...

I am sure more than a few read the blogs that they follow on a smartphone....although, I do think that blogs like mine that are rather long aren't popular among the people that are into other types of social media. There is a reason Twitter is 140 words. Anything longer than that and they have lost interest.

Haha..funny I was just over at your blog before I saw this comment. That parody was very clever.

I guess it could be said that social media is making us less social with people that we are standing near but maybe more social with people we never see.

I thought it was fairly interesting how he approached his subjects. Places of businesses or as in the case of his first try...the bus stop. Turns out the bus stop was his least successful encounter. I wouldn't think approaching strangers going in or out of a restroom would be optimal, at least if one doesn't want to be considered odd or creepy.

I agree that you might get varied reactions depending on who you approach and where. I would think one's appearance would also play a huge factor. Some people look friendly and non-threatening...some look like mob bosses. Older might be better than younger. I would talk to an older man or woman willingly. Today a little old lady was lost and stopped to ask me directions. I didn't hesitate to walk over to her window and talk. I guess if I get shot by a 90 year old, it will be my own fault.

Cheryl P. said...

You and I are on some similar wave length today. I just said the same thing in answering your comment above. I think age does factor in someone's approachability.

Cheryl P. said...

Yes, irony indeed!!! I totally agree with you about an older man having an easier time approaching women. Lisleman isn't what I consider "old" yet but I love talking to elderly men and women. They are so interesting.

lisleman said...

Hey let me know when you think I'm old.

lisleman said...

Sadly I've being noticing old people shooting people. That recent guy in Kansas was an old guy. I understand the non-threatening look. I must have it because I get approach often when I'm out around tourist areas.

Cheryl P. said...

You might have to wait awhile. I don't think of people as old if they are still vibrant and active. Do you consider yourself old?

Cheryl P. said...

You are right. Now I will be leery to ever talk to another old person. Just kidding. The guy being held here didn't look at all approachable. He looks mean and nasty.

Riot Kitty said...

I love the triangle joke! Very interesting post. I'm an introvert, but it took me awhile to accept it. I'm also painfully shy around new people if I meet them in a context outside of what I'm familiar with - e.g. work, volunteer work, friends. I wish I could be an extrovert. When I am with groups of people, or any people for a long time, I find it exhausting.

Lady Jewels Diva said...

I've had a tonne of people here this week too (asbestos in the bathroom, getting the bathroom gutted) so I don't have the problem of talking to people like I used to as a youngster either. I think it's the whole growing up/maturing thing, as we get older we no longer give a shit.

Cheryl P. said...

I thought of that in the middle of the night one night and figured no one would find it funny but me. THANK YOU for finding some humor in it. Now their are two of us that have a bizarre sense of humor.

I think there was a time I would of said that I was shy around strangers.(esp. as a kid) but I think the older I have gotten the less I am intimidated around people I don't know. I think Lady Jewels is right...with age the "give a shit" factor" takes over.

I am in total agreement with you about being in groups for a long period of's exhausting. Not because I am shy or even introverted but more to the point, it's hard to find large groups of people that have common interests. I am at an age that if there are more than a couple of people, the conversation goes to the weather, medical ailments, politics, or sports. I can only handle about one minute of political sparring before I want to turn and RUN for the nearest exit. And while I now know the condition of nearly every friend's colon, their cholesterol levels and how rude the nurse is at their primary care physician's office, I am relatively sure that this information will not come in handy in any significant way for me.

Cheryl P. said...

I am tired of having work done around the house but this is the time of year here that everything gets spruced up. I gather you are getting a bathroom remodeled. That's always so nice after the work is done but not a lot of fun during the actual re-do.

You phrased that very concisely. "as we get older we no longer give a shit" or at least we care LESS about how people will judge us.

lisleman said...

some mornings I do

abeerfortheshower said...

Like you, I'm a bit of both. I'm not shy, I'm just quiet. A good listener. My parents taught me to shut up when people are talking, so because I don't insert my own thoughts every ten seconds, people perceive me as shy. And then they're always so surprised when, say, the two of us give a lecture on blogging for the local writing group and we're both as off the wall in person as we are on the blog. There's definitely a difference between quiet and shy, and it seems not a lot of people understand that.

As for thought number one, yes, being friendly is out of fashion, which sucks. I would try to be the checkout line talker, but I have a severe disadvantage. I'm a young(ish) man. So talking to other guys is fine, but if I'm trying to make small talk with the woman next to me, she thinks I'm trying to pick her up. I hate that. Can't I just talk to you because I want to talk, and not because I have any interest in getting into your pants? Especially as a jokester. I crack a joke about something that's going on around us and either (depending on whether she's attracted to me or not) it results in flirting or a disgusted 'ugh' and look away. Yeesh, so much for being friendly.

Thought number two, well, you already know what I think about that. It's just amusing to think that if the person standing behind me wasn't nose deep in a bland sea of Facebook posts, they might have gotten to meet someone that brightened up their day. Or learned something new. Or had a good laugh. But instead, they're gonna be immersed in a mediocre engagement that just doesn't quite compare to the human experience.

Cheryl P. said...

I understand exactly what you mean about the confusion of people assuming a person is shy if they are quiet or reserved. I, also think there is a chance that a person would be deemed as unfriendly or snobbish, if they aren't "chatty." But of course, that is a slippery slope. If you are too chatty, people would have a problem with that as well.

I thing age has a huge impact on how people would be perceived. Our current culture seems to make a lot of assumptions based on age. I can see where a younger person striking up a conversation with another younger person might be taken as flirting. (I am guessing a younger woman talking to a man might also have the same issue)

I will say that because of my age now, I can strike up a conversation with just about anyone. Older women seem to be non-threatening to just about any age group. Well...unless we are being bitchy about something and then we're just scary.

I know some of the commenters have expressed the idea that they don't necessarily think smartphones are really all that much of a negative impact on people becoming more introverted, but I notice more and more that when I look around, there is hardly a person in sight that isn't either on their phone or looking at their phone. Besides the lack of "spontaneous conversation" there is also, the fact that people are oblivious to their surroundings. Whether it is at a stop light or in a grocery store aisle, people lose focus because they are preoccupied with their phones. In some way don't these types of behaviors act to isolate people from those around them? It certainly doesn't increase their level of extroversion.

I think your last sentence is very "spot on." You would think that people that are glued to their devices at some point would want to disconnect for a bit and actually interact with other people A two-way dialog surely would be more pleasant that staring at the screen on a phone.

Lady Jewels Diva said...

I wish it was being remodelled, lol. We live in what's commonly known as a commission home. We call it Housing Trust. We pay less rent and I care for mum.

We had an issue with the bathroom as it was leaking to the outside wall and mould was growing. We called them up and it took 4 weeks just to get someone out. It took another two months just to get and appointment for work to be done and then the bastard asbestos company didn't turn up to pull the wall off.

We're only having the one wall done as that's where the pipes are, and we didn't know we had asbestos until the company called up to make sure we'd be home. Well, come last Monday morning the guys came to pull the shower glass out of the wall, but the asbestos company didn't turn up. And then for the next two days all the plumbers turned up to do their jobs but the asbestos company didn't.

After many a call they claimed they were actually coming on the Wednesday and he did, but by then the plumbers all had to be re-scheduled and on Friday I called them to say when are we getting our plumbing done and she said we could still have showers. I said we can't as we have nothing. No shower head, no taps, no pipes no sink. she said "we don't work on weekends but we'll get a plumber out tomorrow (Sat) to do that so you can shower." She originally told me they'd be back on Tuesday when I said we can't go without a shower that long.

So Saturday rolls around and he didn't turn up at one like he was supposed to. Called though, to say he'd be here about "five-ish" but didn't turn up then either. So at this time, Monday morn, we have no shower, no inside wall of the bathroom, can't do anything with it, it's like 15 degrees Celsius and freezing and I still don't know when they're turning up to even do the plumbing let alone put a new wall in.

Cheryl P. said...

That is where I am at this point in my life, as well. I like spending alone time and have plenty of interests so I don't tend to ever get bored but if I am with people I enjoy that as well. I prefer smaller groups or spending time with individuals as opposed to larger groups though.

I would say you aren't the one that is confused. I know several people that are at loose ends all the time and are bored if they aren't constantly out and about. It nearly is like a small child that has to be entertained and can't play alone. There is something very positive about being comfortable with both solitude and socializing.

Dexter Klemperer said...

I always hated when people used "shy" and "quiet" as synonyms. To me they were very different. Agreed with that author that Facebook and twitter, etc. are essentially about marketing. When I was in school I thought only stupid people went into marketing. Turns out they rule the world.

Cheryl P. said...

It is odd to me that the words "shy" and "quiet" have morphed into a single perception...both which have a negative connotation in today's society. Everyone is supposed to be fun and outgoing.

How right you are. There was a time that marketing wasn't considered the cool thing to be in and now every occupation is driven by it's marketing...and people are "networking" to market themselves. I found it interesting that he used the word "airbrushed". I think that is a great word for describing how people fine tune their "profiles".

oldereyes said...

Very interesting, thought provoking post ... and it certainly struck a chord with your readers. Year ago, I read a book that, based on a series of tests, assigned personality types as four letters. It wasn't the Myer-Briggs test and it used different letter but it was similar. So, I wonder, does these tests show that people who use smartphones and social media test more towards I (introversion) than E (extroversion) or do people they simple exhibit their Introversion or Extroversion in different ways than those who don't? I may do some research on the subject.

Robyn Engel said...

Yes, I think technology makes us feel that we're being very extroverted. In reality, we are having limited human interaction. I also think most people are a mixture of introverted and extroverted. I'm generally friendly, but often I want others to shut up and leave me alone.

Cheers, Cheryl. Be well.

Cheryl P. said...

I thought Steve Arnold's article was fun more than a true study but his premise is interesting. Does all this technology make people less friendly in face to face situations or less approachable? Even if a person is an extrovert, has the current culture of communicating via devices changing how extroverts interact with others? I would bet that even the limited research on the subject is skewed because people don't seem cognizant of how dependent they are on their devices. Ask anyone you know that is a smartphone junkie about the time they spend on their phone and listen to their denials. Of course, they are denying over-using their phones as they are checking their emails.

I used to teach a course (corporate training) in DISC and part of that course dealt exclusively with how different personalities communicate. I think the course would have to be rewritten to accommodate today's device enhanced population. Can a dominant personality even come off as dominant over a submissive personality when they are typing a small blurb on a smartphone?

I find the escalation of people using technology in lieu of interacting with other people interesting...if not a little alarming. Just about faction of our lives has some type of technological component now.

Cheryl P. said...

You summed that up perfectly. People FEEL like they are being more extroverted because the whole atmosphere of social media plays it to be SOCIAL with FRIENDS but in reality we are spending more time with our devices and less time with actual people.

I too am mostly extroverted but spending time with groups of people chatting on with superfluous small talk is exhausting to me.