I came across this word today in a fellow blogger’s post, entitled “10 Ways to Tell If You’re an Introvert”. (Love reading this blog, as the author always makes me laugh!) I was curious to read her thoughts on the subject, because lately, I’ve been challenged for self-titling myself as an introvert. Apparently society at large does not believe introverts are capable of doing anything but sitting in a shadowed corner with their nose in a book, refusing to acknowledge the world around them (this totally used to be me!).
My first reaction was, “a completely balanced human being?! That’s impossible. We all lean more one way than the other.” But, after closer examination, I think this term has popped up to describe many of us natural introverts who have simply adapted to the social world around us in order to thrive. Survival of the fittest apparently still reigns true, except “fittest” now refers not to physical prowess, but to behavioral awareness and capability.
Using myself as an example, introverts today have adapted out of necessity and learned extrovert-like behaviors in order to thrive amongst our social peers.
With the development of technology, we could suddenly hone social skills from behind the safety of an anonymous computer screen. The internet literally democratized socialization, allowing us to become as skilled at expressing ourselves, in real-time, to complete strangers as our naturally social peers. I suppose we could do this through writing in the past, but pre-internet authors were able to disconnect from their readership completely, due to the delay between writing and publication.
The tricky part was translating these new skills into actions. We still seem to live in a society, particularly in North America, that rewards extroverted behavior. The outspoken appear to have more ideas, even if they’re not all good ones, and get themselves noticed.
I think it was this realization that in order to thrive and be successful (with the exception of some, unique industries) we had to learn to transfer our online skills into the real world. Like face to face…with actual other humans. Terrifying, I know.
It’s no wonder folks have difficulty recognizing extroverts and introverts anymore. So many of us retreat into each other’s comfort zones, learn each other’s skills and can even excel at many of the same careers. Even some of my most extroverted friends find themselves tired of our excessively talkative society and need a night off once in awhile.
Maybe, ambivert is a label invented to explain this unique phenomenon. Am I an ambivert? Are you?