“Other people’s views and troubles can be contagious. Don’t sabotage yourself by unwittingly adopting negative, unproductive attitudes through your associations with others.” –
We are a minority in the world. Our extroverted counterparts outnumber us 3:1 in the general population. They prefer the glitz, and the glam, and the attention. They love to meet new people, are very outgoing, and often have more friends than introverts. Anyone in the Western world would be blind to ignore the fact that our society celebrates extroversion. Extroversion is highly rewarded in the corporate world and in politics. Indeed, in the hierarchical structure of Western society it is easier for extroverts to climb the rungs of the ladder.
With its positives, extroversion also has its corresponding negative qualities. Extroverts can often feel isolated when they spend too much time alone. They also tend to look outside themselves for their inspiration and sources of ideas.
The Extroversion/Introversion Distinction
Jung defined introversion as an “attitude-type characterized by orientation in life through subjective psychic contents” (focus on one’s inner psychic activity) and extroversion as “an attitude type characterized by concentration of interest on the external object” (focus on the outside world).
In the modern world I believe it is better to be an introvert than an extrovert. We all have to contend with the same realities in our world. However the extrovert is mainly focused on the external world. This part of the world is dominated by marketers and attention merchants. Our attention is being cannibalized by clickbait and push-notifications. This is something I write a lot about, because most people don’t view it as a big issue.
It is no exaggeration to say that we live in the age of the 24/7 Breaking News Cycle. If you payed attention to every breaking news alert and push-notification on your phone you would never have time for anything productive. You will inevitably suffer from information overload.
Which Basket Do You Want Your Eggs In?
Everyone has one life to live, and a limited attention span. We each have 24 hours in a day, and every hour we spend in a way we know isn’t ideal we never get back.
This is something I have been thinking about a lot. Which basket do I want to put my eggs in?
I can’t say I know the exact right way to live my life, but I definitely know which way is wrong.
When I am in a weird phase in my life I always have a back-up plan, and I think of it has a personal life-insurance policy. I don’t fund it with money but with good books and the right mindset. If things ever get crazy I just turn inwards.
We live in 2 worlds simultaneously, the outside world and the internet. I think it’s important not to conflate these 2 realities. They each influence each other, but they are distinctly different.
When I focus on the outside world I see a lot of loving families and kind people. There is a park near my house where I can go for a walk and see people walking their dogs and playing with their kids on a playground.
On the internet I tend to see the exact opposite behavior. People lose all sense of dignity that they possess in ordinary face-to-face communication. I created a Twitter account a couple of months ago and the vulgarity and vitriol I saw on a daily basis was too much for me to handle. This is the reason I find it hard to use Twitter, and I had to create a new way to use social media.
Has the internet became pathological?
This is a question we need to contend with and even more so in the future. The founder of the internet, Sir Tim Werners-Lee believes a change needs to happen. I think Sir Werners-Lee is the ultimate internet idealist, however I agree with the sentiment. With regards to the internet, I find it impossible to go to surf the without an ad-blocker because of how intrusive advertising has become. Social media has also became too toxic for me to use frequently.
The narcissism on Twitter is an article in itself. The world is very complicated and it is impossible to reduced issues to overly simplistic cause and effect relationships. The modern world has a level of complexity and distractions that make previous ages look incredibly simple. There are also pockets of the internet that are so toxic they can subtly (or non-subtly) contaminate anyone’s brain.
It is important to not treat the internet with nonchalance. It can be mindless to surf or watch videos, but the content always affects your mind. If you are consuming toxic content, it’s important to remember the Nietzsche aphorism, He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster. And if you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss also gazes into you.
This is also for over-consumption of violent news stories, or trying to argue with narcissistic psychopaths on Twitter. These things will affect your mind, often more than you believe.
Introversion In A Crazy World
I believe it is easier for introverts to turn inwards and ignore the world when it is too crazy. We can focus on what interests us in our own little subjective worlds. Extroverts are more focused on the external world so they often find it hard to turn away, no matter what is happening. If their country is led by a leader they despise they will be fascinated (disgusted) and constantly ridicule this person. Events like this happen non-stop for the extrovert, and it can color their worldview more easily than their introverted counter type who often turns away from the chaos.
It is important to remember the great things about our modern world. Ours is the most honest and compassionate age, and if you think honestly, you probably wouldn’t trade it for any other age. The good always comes with the bad, if you are introverted you have the gift of easily turning away from the bad.