2 February 2012
We live in a society the values the extrovert. Describing someone as “outgoing” carries a positive connotation, while characterizing someone as “shy” or “quiet” is akin them possessing a serious character flaw. Time magazine recently examined the phenomenon of the introvert in the article “Don’t Call Introverted Children ‘Shy’.”
In the article, writer Susan Cain looks at the introvert objectively, ultimately concluding that like extroversion, introversion is a personality trait, not a flaw. She notes that introverts are not antisocial, but rather “differently social.” They are less likely to cheat than extroverts, and are more likely to be described as empathetic or conscientious.
The point of the article is not to position the introvert as superior, but rather to point out that such an individual is every bit the extrovert’s equal.
According to Cain, the ideal situation is one in which introverts and extroverts work together to achieve a common goal. She cites the partnership of extroverted Steve Jobs and introverted Steve Wozniak as an example of when this worked well.
The article demonstrates the need for us to move away from prescribing standardized versions of “normal.” Recognizing that there are many personalities that make the world go ‘round can only work to our benefit. It can help to encourage creativity and new ideas, both of which are needed to move our society forward.