Books on introversion seem to be everywhere of late, all of which seem to be premised on surviving as an introvert in a culture that values extrovert traits. (Introverts, it must be said, tend to read more than extroverts.) The latest to come across my radar seems interesting: Susan Cain’s Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking (website, Amazon: hardcover, Kindle). From the interviews that the author has been giving (“Oh, the irony of being an introvert on book tour!”) it seems that one of her central arguments is that Western (or at least North American) society’s extroversion bias is relatively recent, and that, in a world where group work and meetings are valued over working quietly and without interruption, introvert values are chronically underrated. From her interview in Scientific American:
In our society, the ideal self is bold, gregarious, and comfortable in the spotlight. We like to think that we value individuality, but mostly we admire the type of individual who’s comfortable “putting himself out there.” Our schools, workplaces, and religious institutions are designed for extroverts. Introverts are to extroverts what American women were to men in the 1950s — second-class citizens with gigantic amounts of untapped talent.
This is a far cry from books that seem to take as given the need for introverts to pretend to be extroverts. Via Andrew Sullivan.
(Some of you may have seen the author’s piece, “The Rise of the New Groupthink,” in the New York Times earlier this month. And if you haven’t yet read the ur-text of introvert awareness, Jonathan Rausch’s “Caring for Your Introvert” from the March 2003 issue of The Atlantic, you should.)