They say that the average attention span is down from 12 seconds in the year 2000 to eight seconds now. So I’ll keep this as brief as I can.
I have been speaking to a friend I haven’t seen or spoken to in some time—one of those lengthy ping pong text conversations. About a few texts into the conversation, a sadness took hold of my emotions—although we’ve been friends for quite a while, I knew nothing about them.
Most of the time, my texts will end after asking and telling how I’m doing, yet this little parley of ours continued. After more “tennis texts,” I had found out a good deal about this person. It may not have been much, but it was significant to me. So much it had put a smile on my face. We share a fairly uncommon personality type:
We’re both loners.
Or, as Carl Jung would put it, introverts.
I had initially thought it odd. Seeing this person in school and at parties, I’d never guess we shared the same social temperament. What made me laugh was this person had thought the same of me. Both of us shared how we dealt with the social anxiety that plagued us in high school. My way of coping comprised of wearing my headphones all day, every day, until I discovered something else.
But that’s not what I’m leading—terribly—into. I want to get into the extraordinary minds of the 30 to 40 percent of people who share a unique way of interacting with others and how they process information. Most people in the world, especially in the U.S., are what the world and society wants them to be; sociable, action-oriented, enthusiast, friendly, like to work in groups, talkative, spontaneous, enjoy parties, being the center of attention, find what they need in the external.
This is what society sees as acceptable. This is the person who bosses want to hire. These people receive promotions. They are, or were, the popular kids in school or at work. They’re everything an introvert, such as my friend and I are not—with the exception of a few.
Since this is the “ideal” personality, if it isn’t you, then you better be striving to be it. Otherwise, you’re cast aside and labeled as weird, outcast, loner, creep, shy, awkward, angst, wallflower, socially retarded, and my favorite, serial killer.
Yes, we introverted people may be one, two, or all these things. Though, we can also not be any of them. These are false labels that others give us from those who do not understand what or who we are. Before we dive deep into the introvert’s home base, their bedroom, and go through their laundry, here’s a biology lesson!
The difference between extroversion and introversion is actually biological, and it comes down to how people unwind after social situations.
Doctor of psychology, Perpetua Neo, told Business Insider that in terms of their brain chemistry, introverts have a lower threshold of dopamine sensitivity than extroverts (dopamine is a chemical associated with reward because it makes us feel good. Food for thought). Essentially, the lower your dopamine threshold, the more easily stimulated you are.
As an introvert, I am more energised by spending time on my own, or in tiny intimate groups of people I trust. So when I am out in a social environment that is highly stimulating, while the extrovert gets increasingly incandescent and magnetic, I shrink away, my heart races, and discomfort increases by the second. I need to go home and recharge my batteries. I love to be alone, but the time I spend alone is when my body and mind does in fact recharge like a battery.
Now hold up, it’s me who has bad anxiety in social situations. It’s actually a common misconception that all introverts are socially anxious. You can be an extrovert and have social anxiety, or be painfully shy, or socially awkward. The difference is an introvert will recharge on their own and an extrovert needs busy surroundings and busy situations to recharge.
Introverts thrive on social interaction, just as many people do. They do it differently to people who are more extroverted. For instance, a “social butterfly” extrovert may like to meet 50 people at an event, and get a buzz from talking to as many people as possible. Meanwhile, an introvert probably aims to get to know just two new people, but they will hope to foster the beginnings of a deep relationship.
We think much deeper than extroverts. Without us, you can kiss goodbye: The Cat in the Hat, The Theory of Relativity, The Theory of Evolution, Harry Potter, and most importantly…
Your stupid little iPhone you’re probably holding right now. I am.
No, not Steve Jobs. The real genius behind Apple, Steve Wozniak.
*There is a lot more I really want to get into but that’s all the time we have for today, tonight, tomorrow, whenever you’re bored enough to this. Yes, I know there are other personality types. Yes, I know about Ambiverts. Yes, Jung’s many misconceptions. I’ll discuss it all another time.
So, take care now. Bye, Bye then.