Seeking Solitude In An Increasingly Extroverted World

Posts: 47
Joined: Fri Dec 29, 2017 10:47 am

Sun Jul 15, 2018 11:50 am

The rise in internet connection has brought with it an interconnected world. Thanks to it, the world can truly be described as a global village. Everything is instant, from breaking news to video conferences to financial transactions. Social media has encouraged the sharing of personal information over the internet. Before social media came along, many people would chat through messengers such as AIM, Yahoo Messenger, ICQ and MSN messenger. The main selling point of these chat clients, apart from being cheaper than making phone calls, was the ability of the user to maintain anonymity online. One could interact with people from all over the world for months or even years without necessarily exposing themselves to these online "friends". Social media pioneers like MySpace brought forward the concept of publicly sharing as much information as you wanted about yourself. The next wave of SocMed sites...Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, VK et al...have ensured the death of anonymity. Mobile phones have made it easier for people to share, as they're portable so ensure constant online access, they come with cameras that make it easier for users to record and upload content, and have location monitoring apps that give the site you're using as much information about your movements and behaviour, both on and offline, as possible. Mobile phone numbers are also increasingly being used as a form of identification by both governments and corporations. This makes it very hard for one to stay anonymous.

This increased sharing is not necessarily a bad thing. It gives us insight into the lives of people we otherwise would have never had. It is common nowadays for a public figure like a president to post about development projects in the morning then put up another post about sharing a meal with his/her family in the evening. This was unheard of in the pre-social media days. While all this is good, could there be such a thing as oversharing? After all, other than nudity, extreme violence and drug abuse, it is possible to share nearly everything else online. The world we live in encourages this sharing. The more you reveal about yourself, the easier it gets for these websites to target ads to your taste, so they constantly prompt you to add more information to your profile. But this doesn't just happen online. In the "real world", people are also being urged to be more extroverted. In schools, group work forms an integral part of modern courses, with students expected to make public presentations of their assignments. Companies insist on team building exercises and other events designed to encourage, or rather force, interaction between employees. The popularity of multi storey apartments also makes it easier for these interactions to take place.

Though welcomed by a large part of society, the fact is some introverts find all these forced interactions tiring. Most just want to go about their lives without having to let the entire world know what they're up to. Some experience fatigue from going to these events and being forced to engage in "company events" such as sports, company dinners, or even PowerPoint presentations. While others might find this weird, introverts get fatigued by engaging in such interactions. Their reluctance to participate might be misconstrued as rudeness, shyness or even snobbishness.

I have recently come across the Hikikomori phenomenon in Japan. Hikikomori, which literally means pulling inward, describes young Japanese, mostly teenage and young adults in their early to mid 20s, who shut themselves in their rooms for extended periods of time, some even doing so for up to ten years. They spend this self imposed exile from society playing video games, watching movies, listening to music, or reading. Their parents only walk in to bring them food and collect their laundry. Some do this due to being bullied in school, others due to what they call "mental exhaustion". They simply get tired of interacting with other people on a daily basis. Hikikomori are estimated to number up to a million in Japan.

While this Hikikomori phenomenon points towards extreme introversion, or even mental issues, it also shows that not everyone thrives in this extrovert focused society we currently live in. Maybe society should come to terms with the fact that not everyone enjoys talking about "what's on your mind", or attending "an event near you". Some just want an environment in which they can quietly think about and implement their ideas. After all, being alone does not necessarily equate to being lonely.