Everyday challenges – extroversion and introversion

Home Focus Everyday challenges – extroversion and introversion

I have been closed up in my world working on experimental essays I call “Retiring to Solitude.” They are eclectic because they reflect on a variety of encounters. However, in the end, solitude wins; I make solitude win – it is a space I always consider safe.

   I agree with John Green who says “writing is something you do alone. It’s a profession for introverts who want to tell you a story but don’t want to make eye contact while doing it.”
There is a way in which today’s world is too noisy, distracted and distracting, and – yes – littered with broken professional and personal relationships. I find the growing slogan, “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” worrying.  

   Fredric Neuman writes that, “and every day offers evidence of this thesis. Every day I hear of someone being promoted because he was recommended by a powerful friend of the boss. 

Neuman seems particularly affected by the phenomenon: “I like to think that competence is the most important determinant of professional success; but if it is, it is only over the long run.  Anyone who is expert in a particular field can point to someone preeminent in that field who does not know enough to justify his or her lofty position and reputation.” 

   “The phrase ‘it is not what you know, but who you know,’ says Timothy Ewest, ‘is commonly heard when less than qualified people get positions well above their level of competence. But, being promoted because of friendship or likeability is simply bad for business.” 

Let me use another if sensitive point to illustrate how noisy our milieu has become. Susan Cain thoughtfully notes, in a book called Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, that “evangelicalism has taken the extrovert ideal to its logical extreme…if you don’t love Jesus out loud, them it must not be real love. It’s not enough to forge your own spiritual connection to the divine; it must be displayed publicly.”

   It is not my intention to suggest a return to Alvin Toffler’s Third Wave, where he wrote: “Before the advent of mass media, a First Wave child growing up in a slowly changing village built his or her model of reality out of images received from a tiny handful of sources – the teacher, the priest, the chief or official, and above all the family.  The child heard the same “thou shalt nots” in church and in school. Both reinforced the message sent out by the family and the state.”

Novelist and short-story writer Franz Kafka described the “the limited circle as pure.” I wish to suggest this as my refuge as well – the strong and often unhelpful pressures to conform need to be challenged. 
   Toffler asks “how one should respond to ‘universally recognisable products – where centrally produced imagery (is) injected into the mass mind; new information reaches us and we are forced to revise our image-file continuously at a faster and faster (and ultimately unhealthy) rate.”

Hope is, however, not lost for the introvert. Ewest writes that, “what I have found though, is that very few people know how to build networks. Sure, many get their names on Facebook, LinkedIn, local trade organizations, but they don’t know how to make personal connections. 

   Especially this most recent generation entering the workforce, who many times you find in a group of friends standing together, none of them talking and all of them enthralled with the curiosities on their smart phones.”

Ken Sundheim suggests that “workers should subscribe to the attitude that ‘it is who knows you and what you can do for them,’ instead of the ‘it’s you who know’ frame of mind…if you keep a stiff upper lip, diligently do your work, people will notice you in any town…”