#80 A home for introverts on the Internet

Turtle in Kelowna's Rotary Marsh

We may be introverts, but we can still stick our necks out when we need to.

In the chaos of my third-grade class, I often built an imaginary enclosure around my desk. Inside it I could work in a quiet, uninterrupted space, beyond the reach of unruly classmates and a nervous teacher whose scolding fell on deaf ears. On the walk home I had long chats with an imaginary friend, an impish elf who was as sassy and comic as I was quiet and serious.

I was studious, creative, and engaged. By the time I graduated from high school, my classmates voted me the girl “most likely to succeed”. University was a breeze, and afterward I sailed off to France on a Fulbright scholarship. Life was good, and it has just kept getting better, in spite of crashes, slides, and sharp U-turns. I’ve defined success in my own way and am edging toward 65 feeling happy about the crazy journey I’ve been on.

And I’ve done it without trying to change my nature. I figure I earned my introvert license at an early age, and I’ve renewed it on an annual basis. I’m in good company. Some 40% of the population identify themselves as introverts. You’ll find us everywhere. Among our numbers are Meryl Streep, Clint Eastwood, Woody Allen, Abraham Lincoln, Jackie Kennedy, Al Gore, Bill Gates, Michael Jordan, Mahatma Gandhi, Thomas Edison, Carl Jung, Elvis Stojko, Mother Theresa, and Katharine Graham.

In a culture that values extroversion and is somewhat suspicious of what we quiet folk are up to, being an introvert isn’t always easy. We tend to go for quality rather than quantity, a few good friends rather than a large social circle. Writing is often easier for us than talking because we need time to gather our thoughts. Small groups and in-depth conversation interest us more than large parties and chat. We enjoy being with people but need a lot of solitary time to recharge our batteries.

The Internet can be a friendly place for us introverts. We can engage on our own terms.  We’re not competing for air time so can jump into a conversation when we’re ready. We can do some research before we formulate an opinion. We can enjoy the give-and-take exchanges with people who share an interest even though they don’t share a location.

I give thanks every day for the Internet. It gives me hope that a lot more introverts will have an easier path to making their contributions. The world needs them.

For introverts wanting reassurance and extroverts wanting insight, here is some interesting reading:

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8 comments for “#80 A home for introverts on the Internet

  1. Cyndi
    June 26, 2011 at 9:45 pm

    Are you an INTJ too? :)

    • admin
      June 27, 2011 at 8:03 am

      I’m probably one of the last people I know who’s never taken the Myers-Briggs, but I do fit the profile.

  2. June 27, 2011 at 3:25 pm

    What am empowering perspective!

    • admin
      June 27, 2011 at 3:48 pm

      I chuckle when extroverted friends wonder why I find so much pleasure in blogging, Facebook, and Twitter. I figured maybe it was time to offer a little insight.

  3. John Wright
    July 22, 2011 at 12:48 pm

    That was an inspiring article. I especially liked:
    “The Internet can be a friendly place for us introverts. We can engage on our own terms. We’re not competing for air time so can jump into a conversation when we’re ready. We can do some research before we formulate an opinion”

    Do you know of more blogs that cater to introverts?

  4. October 18, 2011 at 9:39 pm

    An INFP here… thank you so much for this! I’m approaching 50 and still can’t believe how much criticism I get from some people for being a SERIOUS introvert and the way they like to tell me how I NEED to change. (Not as in ‘serious’ serious, I have a sense of humor!) but meaning I’m pretty seriously ‘afflicted’ with being introverted in these critical people’s opinion. I’ve come to like and accept myself for who I am and have realized I can put forth effort and smile for those more crowded events I must sometimes attend, but there is really only so much of our basic personalities that we can change… and that’s okay! Going back to school and getting a degree in psychology with a focus in neuroscience has helped me understand how we humans are all wired differently. It has also increased my knowledge about neurodevelopmental disorders like autism. There is autism spectrum in my family. My daughter has an Asperger’s diagnosis and my brother is probably High Functioning Autism or Asperger’s but in that highest functioning bracket and from a generation that didn’t get diagnosed. I think I am on the spectrum somewhere myself. And that’s okay, too! Kudos to you and keep on enjoying life the way you are made to live it!

    • October 18, 2011 at 9:49 pm

      Oh, how well I understand what you’re sharing here. It is not easy being an introvert in a culture that figures we’re an aberration. With your family history, you not only understand your own experience but have compassion for those trying to navigate the shark-filled waters.

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