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Published:April 20th, 2012 23:13 EST
Be Quiet! A Quiet Revolution

Be Quiet! A Quiet Revolution

By Sean Stubblefield


With her thoughtful book entitled QUIET, introvert advocate Susan Cain is speaking up to encourage a Quiet Revolution.

To recognize, appreciate and utilize the value of introverts.

Throughout human history, all the sages, enlightened philosophers, and seekers of knowledge have praised the merits and importance of quiet contemplation in solitude. Essentially, introversion.

They understand that revelation and innovation tend to be found in solitude, in silence. Where we can hear ourselves think. This is where creativity happens.

And yet, we clearly operate in a society that values extroversion. Indeed, Western society is noticably biased against introverts. We elevate doers over thinkers, men of action over men of contemplation, immediate gratification over patience, talking over silence. Gregariousness is regarded as normal, healthy, ideal. Quiet and reserved people are generally treated with suspicion; as defective or deficient.

Common key words often included in job postings reveal this cultural, punative bias:

Outgoing, personable, people person, verbal communications skills, people skills, interpersonal skills, sociable, great personality, enthusiastic.

Translation: extrovert.

To generally favor extroverts over introverts is like favoring male over female. You are inevitably neglecting half the population; wasting a valuable resource and perspective.

Introverts are primarily introverted, but may sometimes be extroverted; extroverts are primarily extroverted, but may sometimes be introverted.

Shyness and introversion are often confused as being the same thing. But shyness is based on apprehension, nervousness and anxiety. An introvert, however, is a person who is energized by being alone and whose energy is drained by interacting with other people. Introverts are more concerned with the inner world of the mind; exploring what they think more than what others think.

Introversion is frugal, a form of minimalism "less is more; doing more with less. Not only as a personality type, but a behavioral approach to problem solving and engaging stimuli.

While outgoing people are busy talking, introverts are listening and thinking more. Not that the extroverted cannot listen or think. But problem solving can be done better with more listening and less talking.

In a world that can`t stop talking, the power of introverts is a much needed asset.

As a culture, we cannot bear the silence, the stillness. All silence, all pauses are perceived as awkward, and must be filled. There is an expectation and sense of obligation (in any personal encounter) to say something.

Cell phones, texting, Facebook, twitter, blogs, podcasts, youtube, 4 Square, 24 hours news channels.

Our world is filled with a constant stream of chatter. We don`t seem to know how to shut up, to be quiet. When interacting with others, our own thoughts can become obscured or distorted by their influence. Most of us don`t even seem able to conduct a proper conversation, because conversation requires give and take, but we are too eager to give. In America, we often talk, but we don`t listen.

We need to be reminded that there is a time and place for introverting, as much as there is for extroverting.

Sometimes it is necessary and beneficial to stop and think before speaking or acting; or instead of.
Contemporary society exists in a miasma of distraction, perpetual input, constant activity.

Accustomed to constant and instant means and modes of expression, we even seem to be losing the capacity to censor and edit ourselves.

This is further evidenced in the haphazard gluttony of self published e-books in recent years.

How will literature be diminished in the hands of rushed, distracted writers (or distracted readers, for that matter) in the over-zealous multitasking mindset our world is unfortunately obsessed with?

Reading and writing require quiet solitude to be properly engaged. Where will our new literature come from if we lose the ability and willingness to immerse ourselves in isolated silence, free from distractions? Not only will the creation of good literature suffer, but so will our ability to read it. If this habitual, acculturated distraction continues, will we even be neurologically or psychologically capable of reading stories?

Why don`t we consider what the introverts think about all this for a change?