Thursday, February 18, 2016

On Being Introverted

"The Harvard Independent's Faith Zhang remarked that "Quiet" seems in part a gentle rebuke to a culture that values style over substance." - Wikipedia

I've known since I was 12 I was introverted, although it wasn't called "introverted" then. I don't remember it being called anything except for teachers commenting on my report cards, "Bobby is so smart but doesn't use his talents!" because I was a smart introvert and bored by school, so I wandered off into my imagination (which was disparaged as "daydreaming").

The bureaucratic intellectual proles who run our schools have never known what to do with smart, introverted, daydreaming kids. They have always been the square pegs in round holes.

Years later I read some definitions of introverts and I thought, yes, that's me.

Introverted doesn't mean shy. I'm not shy. It means not gaining energy from crowds and instead recharging yourself from being alone. Crowds exhaust us. If I'm in a mall too long I can't stand it and have to leave (or else sit in the food court and get a snack!).

And introverted does mean daydreaming, becoming lost in your imagination.

Donald Trump is an extrovert (and since he's a smart one I'll bet you he has smart, introverted advisors). Personally I think Clint Eastwood is an introvert.

Certain introverts are imaginative and creative. It's clear Adam Smith was an introvert. He used to wander around at night puzzling out economic problems in his head though the use of his imagination. (He also used to fall in ditches since he was absorbed in his imagination).

Albert Einstein? Introvert.

Bill Gates? Introvert.

Elon Musk? Introvert.

Stephen Hawking? Introvert.

There are a lot more extroverts in society than introverts. Too bad for us, since schools are set up for extroverts (introverts understand extroverts a lot better than extroverts understand introverts).

In fact, extroverts are consistently trying to turn introverts into extroverts since they are clueless about us. I find that very odd, since the best of introverts have given so much to the world. I'll bet every smart, imaginative introvert out there has horror stories about what clueless extroverts have tried to do to them.

I suspect - no, I know - that rich introverts use their money to get away from the dumbest of extroverts. I know I would.

Is there any good at all to stupid extroverts? If there is, I don't know what it is.

Hundreds of years ago militaries used to divide soldiers into four categories. The worst was "stupid and busy" (a dumb extrovert) and it was best to kick them out of militaries because they got people killed (those to be given the highest command was "smart and lazy").

The other two categories were "stupid and lazy" and "smart and busy," which covers almost everyone in the world.

The worst problems I've ever had with people are those who are stupid and busy - dumb extroverts. As far as I'm concerned they're a horror to avoided. Not just by me but the entire world.

Ultimately I think imagination is not about trying to predict the future but create it, because once you imagine something then you can create it. For good or for bad.

I recently read a book, The Pentagon's Brain, by Annie Jacobsen, which is about DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency).

Whenever the U.S. ends up in a war, and you for the first time see bizarre weapons, such as drones that assassinate people, those weapons (in fact all of them) came out of DARPA.

DARPA has scooped up all the super-duper smart, imaginative scholars, who spent all their time dreaming up these weapons.

Is this good or bad? Both, actually, because it allows us to keep far ahead of our enemies.

But this is what happens when smart, imaginative introverts, with their ability to concentrate on problems, and their creativity, can do.

Again, for good and bad.

"...what many people ascribe to introversion really belongs in the intellect/imagination domain. Intellect/imagination represents a drive for cognitive engagement of inner mental experience, and encompasses a wide range of related (but partially separate) traits, including intellectual engagement, intellectual curiosity, intellectual depth, ingenuity, reflection, introspection, imagination, emotional richness, artistic engagement, and aesthetic interests." - Scientific American


Shaun F said...

I have notice an intentional subtle engineering to destroy quiet places. Buses have computer voices announcing stops. Grocery stores, bars and coffee shops have televisions or bad music. (I remember coffee shops and pubs where it was dead silent 30 years ago - you could read a book.) Even the library and taxis I take have televisions. Many restaurants have seating that encourages communal dining. Workplaces are being re-designed to minimize the amount of privacy individuals have in exchange for "open concept" to build more effective teams (read destroy people’s soul more quickly.) The only place I can actually have any quiet time is - my apartment. For an introvert, a society is being created where introverts are often in pain because they're exposed to the soul sucking neediness of extroverts.

Eduardo the Magnificent said...

We are now a nation of talkers. Your ability to network (elevator speeches) matters more than your ability to do the job and gain your boss's trust. Twitter makes being the squeaky wheel easier than ever. Business don't play soft music to enhance your buying mood, but rather the same trash pop top-40 in every store. There's nowhere anymore to just lounge: every restaurant has 12 TVs with ESPN on them. The world is full of noise, and the thinkers can't think. Probably by design; and we wonder why nothing ever gets done properly anymore.

Mindstorm said...

Eduardo, listen to low intensity "red" or "pink" noise on headphones if you can't stand the background noise:
The idea is called sound masking.
I run this on my PC if I have difficulty sleeping, but then, I'm living in the countryside, so it's usually not a problem: