Here's Why I'm An Introvert

(NOTE: Based on time elapsed since the posting of this entry, the BS-o-meter calculates this is 13.266% likely to be something that Ferrett now regrets.)

A comment from Chess pointed out something interesting about my introversion: online communication doesn’t drain my introvert-batteries.  After a big party, I need to go somewhere quiet to recharge, but during that “quiet” time I’m replying to emails, I’m texting, I’m chatting.
And I realized: it’s because with online communications, I don’t need to monitor body language.
As a teenager, I was a very lonely kid because I didn’t really know how to talk to people.  And what you see here, in this journal, is the moral equivalent of some nerdy teen getting into Monty Python and memorizing every one of their routines – except instead of memorizing all of Monty Python, analyzing How People Work became my nerdy hobby.  So I spent a lot of time really thinking about how conversations worked, manually picking up on all the cues that tell you when someone’s interested and when they’re not, managing the flow and ebbs of conversations.
(Okay, I also memorized all of Monty Python.  BUT REGARDLESS.)
Yet for all of that effort I put in, when I am in public, it’s not a natural habit.  It’s like conducting an orchestra – I’m always glancing from person to person, going Oh, she’s drifting off and He looks like he wants to say something and Good, she laughed at my joke.  I’m weighing and conducting my potential responses, running everything through some algorithm to ensure that I’m not dominating the conversation.
Storytelling is natural to me.  But managing the responses of everyone?  That’s an effort.
I can do it almost subconsciously at this point, thankfully.  But even if I don’t have to explicitly consider all the elements any more, face-to-face socializing is a drain on my resources – to constantly be looking at all those faces and arms and bodies, calculating and recalculating what’s appropriate in this situation – and so after a while I get tired and need to rest.
Which is not every introvert!  My wife, when she’s feeling people-burnt, comes back home and doesn’t want to text, doesn’t want to email, doesn’t want to talk.  To her, I suspect, it’s the act of shaping thoughts into communications that drains her, whereas Mr. Blog here obviously does that without a second thought.
Yet every introvert, I suspect, has some aspect of social interaction which they can do well, but not subconsciously.  You don’t have to think about, say, brushing your teeth in the morning, but you do have to think about tying some new knot you’ve just learned.  And when you expend that kind of energy in something you’ve never quite managed to pick up by rote, it becomes a thing that you need time to recharge from.
For me, I think, if I was less thoughtful then I’d probably be an extrovert.  If I could just charge in and assume that everything was going well, then I’d never need to go home!  I’d be happy to spend time with people!  I like people!  I love people!  And I’d probably be less beloved, because I’d just assume everyone was happy if I was, but what the hell.  I’d be more comfortable in my own skin, instead of constantly thinking of parties as some complex biological organism that must be maintained through an elaborate series of feedback.
Which I do.  But they’re still fun for me.  I promise.

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