I’ve seen several Internet memes and blogs lately explaining how introverts are different than extroverts. I don’t necessarily disagree with the comparisons, but the tone used seems to treat the introvert as a disabled person who needs special treatment. It’s funny to me because twenty years ago extroverts were the ones seen to be lacking communication skills—embarrassing themselves by being ‘trite’ and spreading false stereotypes.
A curious aspect of this phenomena is the notion of the extroverted writer. Once upon a time, the best writers were introverts who thought deeply about things and brought ideas to light through writing. Now that seems to have switched, and many people calling themselves writers are extroverts. I’ve actually talked with aspiring young writers who didn’t seem to know that “creative writing” was once taught as a subject or curriculum, and a way into the collective unconscious.
Back when introverts ruled the writing roost, extroverts who hung out around writers called themselves agents, PR people, and marketers. They envied the introverted creative writer and wanted to ride their coattails, realizing they didn’t have the insight to write things that enlightened other people in a beneficial way. Somewhere along the line it seems this envy turned into delusion, and these extroverts created a new type of “writer”. From there, they managed to network introverted, creative writers out of their revered place of getting at the deeper stories. (Or maybe I am the envious one now.)
If I could say one thing about the power of introverts, it’s that introverts can learn to be extroverted. Sure it may be tiring—they’ll need alone time to recharge—but I know of introverts who can be the life of a conversation. On the other hand, it seems all but impossible for an extrovert to learn to be introverted. The inner world scares them—they need to get back to being trite—bouncing among dumbed-down zombies. I guess these things run in cycles, and I’m waiting for the dawn of the introverted writer to come again.