The introverted virus

As the world hides itself behind a mask, a wall or a border, I wonder if this infection will not push us all into an introverted utopia (or dystopia, depending on the point of view). Working from home, if not fully locked at home, no physical contact allowed, 1-2 metres of minimum personal space! Ah, heaven… An introverted dream. We always complain that this world is dominated by extroverts and that we have to adapt to their vision of reality if we want to thrive or even to survive. There is no world but the outer world, it seems sometimes. We complain that we are forced out of our comfortable shells, that we have to actively participate in class, that we have to be articulate and overtly passionate if we want to get a job, that we have to lead our team, that we have to interact with other people in shops, in an aeroplane (why…?), in the bus.

Internet already shifted our position as introverts in this extroverted world. It gave us a stage from which we could express ourselves, speak without the need to look another human being in the eye (so invasive!) and, to some extent, without being judged or at least without caring that much.

When I started reading about personality types and the Myers-Briggs classification, based on Jung’s theories, it surprised me that almost half the population were introverts of one kind or another. Of course, we were nowhere to be found… so well hidden in our holes. However, when I was thinking about starting this blog, a came across so many blogs and websites by introverts and I realised that we now had a voice in the world. And, maybe more surprising, that we were using it actively, even boldly. I’ve read posts by extreme introverts talking about their innermost thoughts, their fears, their joys. Bravely, almost defiantly. I’ve seen so much sincere support. Human “contact”.

“For the idealist the materialistic view severs the vital nerve, because his main source of strength—active apperception and realization of the primordial images—is sapped. Such a view of the world must appear completely pessimistic to him, as it robs him of all hope of ever again seeing the eternal idea embodied in reality. A world composed only of facts means exile and everlasting homelessness”.

Carl G. Jung, Personality types

Watching the news every day, I now wonder whether our secret wishes may have become true. Are we moving fast into an introverted reality? Is the virus accelerating what internet started? Is this no longer an extrovert world? Will human relationships now change? I was thinking about a sales force of introverts… but I guess this has already been happening for a while now, except that we don’t see these salesmen. These are now introvert salesmen, seating behind their computers. Interpersonal skills have become less relevant. We can now work from home, visit the doctor from home, shop from home, interact with other human beings from home… I guess the virus will only make it more explicit. It will make it patently obvious that this is no longer an extrovert world… not like 30 years ago, anyway. That a silent revolution has been taking place. In a way, the virus will shut the outer world outside… until Summer arrives, at least. A bit of a “ghost town”… and yet, full of inner life.

I thought a lot about introversion from an evolutionary perspective. Why was introversion not eliminated by evolution? Why is it an evolutionary advantage to survival or reproduction? I don’t think it is an individual advantage. It is a collective advantage, an advantage for our species. A fully extrovert society would have blown itself up long ago. A fully introvert society would have gone into extinction, probably, since we would have tended to avoid personal interactions. It is the balance between both poles that poses an evolutionary advantage. It would then make sense that half the population has an extroverted character and the other half are introverts. Introverts made it possible to go to the moon, extroverts actually went there. As irreconcilable as our personalities are, let’s not forget that we need each other to survive.