raise a glass to those too shy to say hi, they’re the reason we’re all here!
First published May 2016 www.nuurdle.com
It’s been a while since my last blog. Such is the way of these things I have had my head buried in reams of code for the past months getting version 2 of nüurlde and the nüurdleMe mode into shape. You can read more about that here and I hope to share some of my adventures in app development-land with you in a future blog (though from the looks of the swear jar that might be an adult themed post!) For now we’ll stick the topic in question shyness!
Shyness is a strange old beast, on the one hand it’s a trait that we can find a bit endearing in others but it does seem to, well to be frank, get in the way if you happen to be blessed with it. As Morrissey and The Smiths put it “shyness is nice, and shyness can stop you from doing all the things in life you’d like to.” Come to think of it Morrissey said a lot of things and whilst I can definitely recount occasions where hanging the DJ sounded like sound policy I’m not so sure about shoplifters taking over the world. Anyway, Morrissey aside I think the point is clear, shyness is not exactly doing a lot for the human condition these days.
So let’s start by taking a wider scientific(ish) sort of view of things. What possible role in evolutionary terms does shyness play? Where does it come from and how on earth does it survive? If we look into our not too distant past we see a species of social hominids for whom grooming one another is key to enforcing social bonds. Surely, we might argue, a shy individual is going to be somewhat handicapped from forming those bonds and thus in turn be less likely to pass down their genes (okay not a very romantic notion but this is the sciencey bit, I did warn you). Yet here we are, several thousands of generations later and shyness is still alive and kicking in the gene pool! Fortunately though the grooming has moved on a bit.
Perhaps the next place to direct our search for answers might be the old nature vs nurture argument. Are people born shy or do they develop shyness as a response to their environment? Well I guess no baby is born shy (at least not if the noise they make on airplanes is anything to go by) but Aunty Internet (whom knows best after all) seems to throw up a veritable cacophony of differing views on the subject. Suffice to say, for our limited purposes we’ll conclude shyness is something that some individuals are pre-disposed to develop regardless of upbringing; though of course the upbringing can affect the amount of the shyness. Think of it like a rather cool 70’s moog synthesizer, genes are the switches and environment the cool twiddly knobs and sliders that make those fantastic whoowwwwsshhhhuuuuu noises.
You might ask where exactly does all this leave us? Well there’s quite a bit of evidence (including more proper scientific empirical stuff too I’m afraid) to suggest that shyness is just another side to the natural caution and wariness which it’s actually pretty helpful, nay essential, for a member of a species to have. In short if our pre-homo-sapiens ancestor was a bit backwards in coming forwards chances are they were also a lot less likely to be eaten by a sabre toothed cat!
In summary (and leaping to conclusions with limited data in the best traditions of the internet), introversion is probably a key reason why human’s are here. In fact every one alive today probably owes a debt of gratitude to the shy and meek! This great piece in the New York Times does a good job of questioning the value we place on extrovertism, we should perhaps raise a glass to the shy in our society rather than trumpeting the extroverts.
So, if you’re too shy to say hi don’t worry that’s absolutely fine. In fact it’s fantastic and you shoudl be proud, you’re carrying in your genes the very essence of survival.
Mind you, there is the small matter of sabre toothed cats being extinct. With the world sloshing full with extroverts not held back by shyness (and obviously not being eaten alive by large prehistoric cats) what is the introvert to do when it comes to meeting people? We could try and clone smilodon from bone fragments but I think there’s a more simple answer, which is why we came up with nüurdle! If you are the type not to say boo to a goose, don’t worry you can nuurdle the goose! Happy nüurdling!