It seems that there is a belief out there that introversion is a trend.
As anyone who is a part of this world knows, in the past year introversion has made its big debut. It’s the latest fad; “Go Introvert or Go Home!” might as well be plastered across the Internet. Being an introvert, I’m thrilled my need for solitude is finally recognized as socially acceptable. However, the Internet has a tendency to ruin good things, and I fear introversion is one of those things.
Labels are incredibly powerful things.
The issue with this kind of multiple-choice self-diagnosis is that the answers change depending on the situation. Take this test in the Guardian, for example. “I enjoy Solitude” – well, it depends what mood I’m in and whom you’re asking me to spend time with. “I prefer one-on-one conversations to group activities” – well, again, it depends. Is the group activity karting with some mates, or a dance with Maidenhead’s local branch of the Conservative Bankers Association? You can’t give binary answers to these kinds of questions because most of us are different in different situations.
To make things worse, a lot of these tests rely on self-reporting. The vast majority of people who call themselves an introvert or an extrovert have never been properly evaluated. They’re making a judgment call about themselves, and people are notoriously shit at being honest about their character traits. Even when psychologists are involved, we’re back to dubious multiple-choice personality tests.
Amy Grey writes, in the Sydney Morning Herald. The online balance of power between introverts and extroverts is totally skewed. Grey says that “the Internet has become an introvert’s playground,” allowing them to “perform to a captive and sympathetic audience.” Online, they control the terms of their social engagement. They can unplug at any time. And yet they still enjoy the benefits of communicating with others, of feeling heard and valued. And then the poor, conforming regular extroverts, who just want to get along with the group, adopt the new norms, the ones lionizing introspection and alone time, and soon enough our nation’s bars and restaurants will be empty, with everyone busy at home being “introverted.”
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Of course, the scientific definition of introversion is different from the Internet’s definition. The introvert label doesn’t mean you are scared of others — that’s shyness — or that you contain mental and emotional depths incomprehensible to the trifling masses. It merely describes a person who prefers interacting in smaller social groups and occasionally wishes to be left alone.