There was a time where being reserved, quiet and elusive were charming, even redeeming qualities to have. And although there has been a depletion of these virtues over the last century or so; something quite spectacular seems to have occurred within the last five.
The introduction and popularity of widely used platforms such as Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and even latest trend Periscope has given every body a voice. And with these voices, those quiet and reserved often go unnoticed. It’s not what is done with that voice which matters anymore; it’s how loudly that voice can shout.
With the integration of social media into our everyday lives, it’s easy to be sucked in and then consumed by the largely visual feeds of information streaming globally and instantly, into our line of sight. These platforms also make it easier to create an alternate perception of our selves; trolls, who are often benign individuals in everyday life, are an aberration of this created perception. It’s the idea that online, you can be the person you want to be because you are protected by the perception which you have created and imprinted on the world.
This concept has been in the news regularly lately as blogger, after vlogger, after Instagram star has come clean and opened up about how fake and concocted the visual portrayal of their lives really has been- always after succumbing to the pressure of constant pretence.
If you are quiet and somewhat introverted, these platforms give you the opportunity to connect. Comfort zone is irrelevant because there’s nothing phsyical here; your personality isn’t forced and interaction with a potentially huge audience is easy, because that great barrier called the internet is a buffer and keeping your bubble separate and entirely yours.
So what happens when we take Online offline? Because here’s the issue. This new generation of bubbly, socially extroverted, verbally comfortable individuals is expected to transverse over into the real world.
If you’re quiet in the workplace; you’re distant, unfriendly and cold. If you struggle with small talk; you’re rude. If you don’t enjoy large groups of interaction such as parties; you’re a snob, you’re a kill joy. And if you’re a woman and introverted; quite often, you’re a bitch.
Being introvert doesn’t seem to cut it anymore; and being shy? That’s just not a socially accepted norm in this new, vocal, hyper interactive generation.
Perhaps if it stayed just as change in the social sector, then it wouldn’t be such a horrifying development. But already, this expectation of simply being extroverted, has seeped into all factors of every day life. We are expected to be social and chatty from the womb.
Job interviews quite often take place over the phone, over video chat, or as part of a group process. The latter, in particular, is an introvert’s nightmare; being absolutely judged on your social interaction with people who are not only strangers, but also your competition.
As a general rule of thumb, introverts are quite happy to enjoy their own company. Interaction with others for prolonged lengths of time can often be so, incredibly, draining. The anxiety, over thinking, and nerves which come with it can be so, incredibly, draining. And yet this new world is forcing introverts further and further out of their comfort zones. There are no longer professions for those quieter and more reclusive; writers are expected to charm and sell, Chefs are expected to smile and sell, IT technicians are expected to engage and sell. We are all selling an ideal. And that ideal is a lie.
This generation is one who no longer has the choice to give and take as much social interaction as they wish; now, it’s one who are expected to exert, exert, exert. And all which this creates are tired individuals, who go home at the end of the day, and don’t want to talk, or look at, or listen to anyone. They are exhausted.
It is exhausting to be an introvert in this new world with this new generation. But what will come of the next?