Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Gasbags and lurkers

I don't think extroverts and introverts will ever understand each other. They have such different outlooks and such different temperaments. The confident, sociable gasbags are baffled by the reticent, thoughtful lurkers and vice versa.

Personally I'm a confirmed introvert. I enjoy a modest amount of socialising and chattering, but too much of it and I start to panic, feeling my identity is being lost in a thickening fog of compulsive blather that's draining me rather than nourishing me.

To an extrovert, that inner panic is bewildering. They love talking to others and they would go on all day and all night if they could. The idea that you've had enough, that you might be hankering desperately for some peace and quiet, is incomprehensible.

Unfortunately, instead of trying to understand each other, extroverts and introverts tend to be mutually suspicious, always accusing the other lot of being the oddities and weirdos who make daily life more difficult.

If only those boring silent types would contribute a bit more, say the exasperated extroverts. If only those narcissistic windbags would shut up for a second, say the irritated introverts.

As an introvert, I believe an hour or two of private thought about something is probably more productive than an hour or two of gabbling away to someone else about it. An extrovert would believe exactly the opposite.

As an introvert, I like to contemplate beautiful sights in silence, gradually absorbing the full grandeur and impact. This isn't enough for the extrovert, who needs to share the excitement with as many people as possible, take 23 photos and post half a dozen Facebook updates. To them, staying silent can only mean chronic emotional constipation.

I guess this mutual perplexity will run and run. But one thing's for sure. Extroverts and introverts need each other's opposing qualities to get the maximum out of life. A bit like chocolate chips and cookies.

31 comments:

Bijoux said...

I'm probably more of an introvert, but it would depend upon the company. I've never noticed there being an Us versus Them mentality, but I have seen others write about it.

Ursula said...

Nick, your very writing on the subject has confirmed what you are lamenting: A divide being created!

I wish people would stop using labels. I wish people would stop having a NEED to use labels to neatly file away to fit their tidy world.

There is no divide. Whilst there is black and white on the COLOUR spectrum I'd strongly advise against pigeon holing people. We are all somewhere on a broad canvas.

There are people who come across as extrovert when in company (as Bijoux hinted at). I am one of them. Not a gas bag as you call them but, yes. I will work a room. Easily. I enjoy my fellow humans. So very much.

I also need time to myself. As do ALL people I know. All of them. The lot. Being extrovert, being introvert - not mutually exclusive. We are all a mixed bag. A little bit of this, a little bit of that. Shake. Sprinkle according to the occasion.

One of these days maybe you and I can reflect on the rather more interesting concept of being 'shy'. Being shy does not make an introvert! Mark my word.

U

kylie said...

yet again, young ursula is so right!

i am an extrovert but very very borderline. its a continuum like everything else. except introverts hate extroverts and believe its an extrovert's world. what twaddle that is

Nick said...

Bijoux: I've noticed a bit of mutual friction on occasion. But it's not something people stress, they tend to work around it.

Ursula: Well of course I'm generalising as usual, many people are a mixture of gregarious and self-contained. But I'm very definitely an introvert, I always struggle if I'm in company for any length of time.

I think you're making your own generalisation there that you can work a room because you enjoy your fellow humans (ergo the quiet types don't like their fellow humans and try to avoid them).

Yes, the idea of shyness is something worth examining. The term usually masks something quite different.

Nick said...

Kylie: I certainly wouldn't claim it's an extrovert's world. There might be a tendency to take more notice of extroverts simply because they display themselves more, but otherwise from my own experience I haven't seen any big difference.

And I don't hate extroverts, I just find them puzzling, like I said.

Ursula said...

"(ergo the quiet types don't like their fellow humans and try to avoid them)", you say in reply to me. No, Nick. Not at all. Wrong conclusion - it's precisely what I advised against. Quiet types too (since humans are social by default) like their fellow humans.

You equate the extrovert as being narcissistic. Not so. You can lay the same accusation at the door of an introvert.

Let's put it another way: If you asked me whether I am an introvert or an extrovert I wouldn't know. No idea. Whatsoever. Repeating myself: I believe putting people into diametrically opposing corners is not helpful.

U

Wisewebwoman said...

Nick:

Since "shy" was a word brought up by Ursula I will offer a definition offered to me years and years ago: "Shy is self-centred to the extreme.". I believe it has nothing to do with being an introvert.

On all tests of such ilk I fall into the introvert category. I enjoy time alone, reflection, etc. BUT with the right circumstances and stimulation I can be highly "extroverted."

I think these words introvert and extrovert are completely interchangeable in most personalities - that is, if we have to label them.

And obnoxious, loud people exist everywhere and I've heard them described as "shy". And I would agree. Blather covers up so much insecurity.

XO
WWW

Nick said...

Ursula: Well, if you have no idea whether you're one or the other, then I guess you're a mixture of both, as you suggested. Or maybe neither, just a varied human being.

You're probably right that an "introvert" may also be narcissistic. I hadn't thought it through obviously!

Nick said...

www: That might well be true of some "shy" people, though not all of them. Yes, I'm like you, with the right circumstances and stimulation I can open up and become extremely talkative. Those who know the more usual quiet me are always gob-smacked!

I think that's also true, that noisy blather can hide a deep-seated insecurity.

Suburbia said...

Now I definitely know a bit about chocolate chips and cookies!

I think I'm an introvert but I do like to communicate a LOT! But then I do lurk quite a bit and I can't (sadly) remember the last time I went to a party!Introverted extrovert?!!

Nick said...

Suburbia: I also like to communicate, but in practice I'm quite inhibited for one reason or another. I went to a party a few months ago and had some great chats with people because I felt very at ease with them from the word go.

Nick said...

Thinking about shyness. I think it's really a euphemism for all sorts of different things - feeling intimidated, not feeling very talkative, not knowing what to say, feeling other people won't like you etc. I must write about it at some future date....

Grannymar said...

Nick, what I want to know is what do you call a shy introverted extrovert?

Nick said...

Grannymar: Sorry, that's overloaded my 23 brain cells. Um, a strange kettle of fish and no mistake?

John Gray said...

I have aspects of both
And each side takes over my life from time to time
The worst of both worlds so to speak

kylie said...

an introvert is energised by alone time, an extrovert is energised by being around people. how much one talks, how much attention one seeks, how self conscious one is, are all completely separate and independent of intro/extroversion.

gawd theres a lot of drivel here

Nick said...

John: That's unfortunate! But I daresay you have ways of keeping each side within manageable limits.

Kylie: I don't agree at all. I would say all those other things you mention are intimately connected with introvert/extrovert tendencies. Like you're going to talk a lot more if you like being around people.

A bit of drivel in your own quick-fire response, perhaps?

Nick said...

"Drivel" was one of my father's favourite words. It's amazing how many things he dismissed as drivel....

kylie said...

oh well if it pushes your buttons i had better not say it then

Nick said...

Kylie: You can say it, but you might get a robust response, lol!

Nick said...

What some of you seem to be saying is that we shouldn't use the words extrovert and introvert at all, that they're one-sided stereotypes that distort the more complex reality - that sometimes we're quiet and sometimes we're talkative. Well, that makes sense.

kylie said...

its not about people being talkative or not, it is about gathering or spending energy. it is not a stereotype, it is a very useful tool for managing our own lives and informative about the people around us

Nick said...

Kylie: Well, I'd never seen it in terms of what energises you, and I don't know if other people see it like that, but it's a useful way of looking at it. From that point of view, I would definitely say I'm a mixture - sometimes I'm energised by other people, sometimes by being on my own.

bonsaimum said...

I am an introvert as well.I don't believe you have to fill every minute with conversation.

Nick said...

Bonsaimum: Me too. There's always this feeling in a social gathering that you should be chatting incessantly, that there shouldn't be an "embarrassing silence", but gabbling inanely about nothing is idiotic.

kylie said...

i am pretty sure that is the technical definition, not just how i see it!

everyone will have a dominant tendency, it is all about the dominant preference, not at all about individual situations.

and your exchange with bonsaimum is what drives me insane about the whole introvert thing. i am an extrovert but i have no need to fill every space with inane conversation.

if i said that introverts are unbearable snobs you would have a shot at my grand generalisation but you think its ok to make insulting generalisations about extroverts

gah, my blood pressure can take no more

Nick said...

Kylie: "Extraversion tends to be manifested in outgoing, talkative, energetic behavior" - Wikipedia.

Well, no, I wouldn't agree I'm an unbearable snob, I'm not saying introversion is any better than the opposite. As you say, we're all extroverts on occasion anyway. And introverts are just as capable of gabbling inanely - if they ever condescend to speak, that is, lol (yes, I can joke about anything, even my own possibly condescending behaviour)

Nick said...

"I don't think extroverts and introverts will ever understand each other." I rest my case.

Rummuser said...

These two classifications have fascinated me for long and I have decided that most of us are really ambiverts. It is a term that I came across while reading Quiet The Power Of Introverts by Susan Caine. A book I highly recommend if the topic keeps nagging you. http://www.thepowerofintroverts.com/about-the-book/

Nick said...

Ramana: That's what some of my other commenters are saying, that we're all a mixture of the two traits, even if one appears to be dominant. Yes, I've heard of the book though I haven't read it (yet).

Nick said...

Funny how some blog posts attract heated controversy, while others attract a mere flicker of interest....