Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think it was around the same time that we started seeing hipsters grow beards and juice served in jars that being an introvert became cool. Maybe I have a lot of introvert friends advocating the cause, but the number of instructional articles and diagrams on facebook educating the world on how to respectfully interact with introverts seems to have grown exponentially in the last year or so.
I am a psychologically diagnosed introvert. Traditionally this just meant people thought I was quiet, often described as shy, sometimes accused of being snobbish or standoffish. With the help of facebook I’ve now discovered a raft of other things I previously put down to personal hangups which are in fact genuine symptoms of introversion. The main one is preferring text-based rather than verbal interaction – I hate talking on the phone and will use SMS, email or any other form of written communication as a first preference every time. The other is needing my own space, particularly when travelling – I’ll gladly pay for a room in a hotel instead of staying with friends or family to avoid the need to interact and be ‘on’ for 24 hours a day.
The anomaly, as with all things placed conveniently into categories there will always be exceptions to the rule, is that I don’t mind crowds. Refer Tokyo, Japan and my love of big cities in general. The key is that the more people there are around, the more likely it is I will go unnoticed and be able to avoid the need to interact with anyone. I love the anonymity of being in Tokyo, despite standing out as obviously foreign, because the only thing I have to do is keep out of the way while the city gets on with its business. Easy.
And so to the dog lesson – like me, my fella is an introvert. He likes to get out and about, and is friendly enough when we meet another person or dog, but he doesn’t go crazy over them, offering a (generally) polite hello and then moving on. I used to take him to dog parks thinking he’d love playing with all the other dogs, but he usually ended up just trotting around checking things out by himself. It frustrated me for a while, the effort I put into getting there and him not taking, what I thought, was full advantage of the opportunity. But then I realised, he still had a good time, just not in the way I expected him to.
So, if anything comes of the introverts’ current, largely text-based campaign, it’s that there’s more understanding of people’s differences and less insult caused by personal preferences.