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Friday, November 22, 2013

Public, or it didn't happen

The title is a variation on the "Pictures, or it didn't happen" demand that we sometimes see in comments on posts. The idea is that the visual is necessary to really convince the audience that the account is true. (Why seeing should be believing in the age of Photoshop and CGI is beyond me, but I can visualize things through descriptive texts).

To return to the title, though, it refers to the way some  extroverts see the world -- only things that happen in public really matter. In the introvert universe, though, what transpires in private counts just as much as what happens in public, sometimes even more so.

Lately, there's a trend to make introversion more socially acceptable by stressing that it's not a matter of being anti-social, just of needing to recharge with alone time. However, that really is an overly simplistic reduction. There are real differences between introverted and extroverted perspectives on interaction that extend beyond what one may prefer to do during leisure time to feel revitalized.

I believe that accounts for how extroverts forget about things that are very important to introverts but have no public impact. For example, after I had a baby and couldn't drive for a while, someone nearby promised she would drive my son, along with her own kids, into school. Even though she made the offer on her own and not in response to my request for a favor, she forgot all about it. Another woman I carpooled with for camp just failed to show up on the last day because she decided not to send her kid in then and couldn't even be bothered to let me know by phone.

 I don't think it's just a matter of general forgetfulness but the way extroverts process things require a more public event for them to rank as important. Letting down someone in private just doesn't count. On the other hand, should the introvert skip a party filled with people with no real common interests, well, that's a crime not to be forgiven.

More recently, I've seen this happen again in variations. The extroverts involved would, undoubtedly, claim that they are nice people. But they really have no empathy for the introverted way of thinking -- that which is private also matters, especially when it is a matter of keeping your word and not letting down someone who thought you could be relied on. But in their mind, only what happens in public is important.

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