The Ascension of the Introvert

How Technology Has Changed the Game

In the past, before the technology and Internet revolution, if you were extroverted you naturally had the edge over people who are mainly introverted. You could speak out loud in front of large groups of people, you were the life of the party, you got the girl, you could sell things, and you were easily noticed and socially accepted. If you were an introvert, on the other hand, you were considered uninteresting, a loner, not a good leader, negative, or even that you needed treatment. But times have changed and extroverts no longer have many of the advantages that they once did. The main reason for these changes? Technology. Technologies have provided introverts with numerous benefits that were previously unattainable. Given that technology continues to advance, these changes will only expand, which begs the question: is the age of the introvert upon us?

Before I go any further with this essay, you should know the true meaning of the whole introvert and extrovert idea. The truth is there are many inaccuracies about what being considered an introvert and an extrovert really means. Often times introversion is misunderstood as being shy, quiet, and maybe a bit awkward; and Extroversion is thought of as being loud, outgoing, and energetic. Maybe you don’t think of introverts as good leaders or public speakers, while extroverts actually seem to enjoy speaking in front of an audience. Maybe you think of introverts as oversensitive and extroverts as thick-skinned. Or maybe you think that people are specifically introverted or extroverted and that there is no in-between. None of these stereotypes is correct. Instead they trap us in a bubble of how we think we’re supposed to act, when in reality most of us don’t fall on the extreme of either side of the spectrum. The real difference between them is quite simple: It has to do with where we get our energy. Introverts tire from social interaction and recharge by spending time alone. Extroverts are energized by social interaction. That’s it. It’s not about shyness, how friendly you are, or your ability to lead a group of people. Both can be sociable, both can be creative, and both can be leaders.

With that being said, people who are generally more introverted benefit significantly more from technology than people who are predominantly extroverted. This can be seen in many different aspects of people’s lives, including children and adolescents in school. Classrooms have always favored the extrovert students over the introvert students when it comes to learning. Extroverts are the ones raising their hands, asking questions, leading group discussions, etc. Introverts tend to stay back and listen when in a large group of people. They tend to favor spending more time processing and analyzing what’s going on before coming up with a thorough, detailed response. However, introverts are enjoying and benefitting from the increased use of technology recently incorporated in our education systems. Instead of being criticized for not sharing their thoughts out loud, introverts now have more opportunities to share their knowledge, talents, and personality in a way that they feel more comfortable with, and while still being connected. These technologies give introverts a voice. Instead of being pushed into a face-to-face interaction that has traditionally dominated the classroom, introverts have the option of voicing themselves over a computer, smartphone, iPad, laptop or any other device where they have the time to comfortably and concisely formulate a response to any inquiry that a teacher may be asking them to complete. Introverts skills and strengths often go unnoticed in the classroom due to the way that they’re forced to demonstrate them. Jordan Catapano, an English teacher at Conant High School near Chicago, remarked, “As we examine how introverts interact with and through their technology, we suddenly find that the shy kid in the back of the classroom is hilarious in the class’s chatroom; the quiet girl over there is actually marvelously creative on her blog; and the reserved boy who shuns the loud kids around him is dedicated to discovering and sharing as much as he can about his future career industry.” Now they have many new ways in which they can express and demonstrate their knowledge through technology.

Another aspect in which technology is making life more advantageous for introverts is in their social lives. We live in a world where social media rules our attention and social interactions. We are spending less and less time having actual face-to-face interactions and more and more time communicating over the Internet. Our technologies allow us to socially communicate with one another without actually physically being present together. If you’re an introvert you get exhausted by social interaction, but not necessarily when it’s over a screen. We now have the option to socially communicate without breaking the barriers of comfort. Extroverts can interact with other people without feeling socially drained. Not only does technology benefit introverts when they are alone but it also helps them cope with any discomfort of large social interactions. In most cases one can simply block out an entire situation by putting in headphones and looking down at their phone. This can put introverts in a place where they can collect their thoughts and not feel drained by the social interactions going on around them, though they may need to be careful not to seem rude. These technologies create a shield. Some may even feel that they are in a state of enough solitude where they are able to recharge themselves so they can come back and socially participate to their fullest.

Not only are introverts lives upgrading in social life and education, but also in the work force. Introverts are now able to attain Jobs that previously weren’t favorable to them due to their introverted weaknesses. Before technology took off many jobs required you to have direct confrontations with large groups of people expressing exceptional skills in persuasion, negotiation, coordinating, instructing, and social perceptiveness. As those skills are unavoidable and largely mandatory in many jobs, and now they can all be communicated without moving from the desk. In the past large meetings such as networking events and conferences were required, where face-to-face connections set the tone. These meetings conceivably proved particularly challenging for introverts to voice themselves and to bring the energy necessary to convey their ideas and thoughts to the table. One job previously thought to be dominated by extroverts is entrepreneurship. Today introverts leading new businesses is much more common. With all the connections, communications, and planning we are able to do over a computer, entrepreneurs no longer have to put themselves out there in an outgoing way. Best selling author and hugely successful entrepreneur, Gary Vaynerchuck, believes that “Now, face to face is no longer the standard. While eventually it will happen when you’re building a big business, the persona you put out there can be determined by your online interactions and presence.” And that’s coming from a self-proclaimed extravert.

Introverts and extroverts can each have their own advantages, but they also each have their own disadvantages. It’s not that extroverts’ lives are negatively regressing due to new technologies, but more to the point, introverts now have more and better ways to deal with their disadvantages than ever before. These technologies ultimately benefit introverts by ridding themselves of the drawbacks that may have troubled them previously in modern culture. The age of the introvert is here.

Bibliography

Vaynerchuk, Gary. “The Age of the Introvert Entrepreneur.” The Inc.life. N.p., 20 Feb. 2015. Web.

“Technology in the Classroom Offers Advantages for Introverts.” TeachHUB. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Dec. 2015.

“Are You An Introvert Or An Extrovert? What It Means For Your Career.” Fast Company. N.p., 21 Aug. 2013. Web. 07 Dec. 2015.

“Are You An Introvert Or An Extrovert? What It Means For Your Career.” Fast Company. N.p., 21 Aug. 2013. Web. 07 Dec. 2015.