I Am Joe’s Blog:

April 7, 2007 • 7:24 PM

Blogging for Introverts

A few days ago I was talking to my mother on the phone, and I mentioned that Morgen has a new blog, Spectatrix, about life as an introvert. In the process of explaining what the blog was about, I mentioned in passing something about my being an introvert too, and my mother was incredulous. “You? An introvert? You’ve got to be kidding! I mean, I knew I was an introvert, but you?” Well, I was shocked that she was shocked. But on further reflection, I think we were working from very different definitions of what it means to be an introvert, and I can see how easily someone (even someone who’s known me my whole life) might therefore make that mistake.

If you’ve ever taken the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, you know that the first personality component it produces is I for introvert or E for extrovert. (I’m an INTJ, in case you were wondering.) The sense of “introvert/extrovert” measured by this test is a specific psychological definition. As the Wikipedia puts it, where one falls on the “I/E” axis

show how a person orients and receives their energy. In the extroverted attitude the energy flow is outward, and the preferred focus is on other people and things, whereas in the introverted attitude the energy flow is inward, and the preferred focus is on one’s own thoughts, ideas and impressions.

In other words, extroverts get more energy from being around other people, whereas introverts get more energy from being alone, and find that being around others tends to drain their energy. This is very different from the colloquial sense of “introvert” as someone who’s shy, timid, withdrawn, or even misanthropic. I’m none of those things, and in fact I love speaking in front of crowds and throwing parties. But I have to do these things in moderation, and on my own terms. Given the choice, I’d almost always rather be with fewer people than with many, and I’d be happier still to be alone. Of course, it makes a lot of difference who the other people are and what they’re doing. If there’s a lot of noise involved, or if people are crowded close around me, that’s not so good, but if the crowd is more spread out and quieter, then my tolerance goes up; it goes up even more if the people are friends rather than strangers.

From what we’ve read, it sounds like Morgen and I are fairly typical introverts (although she’s further toward the “I” side of the scale than I am), and what she’s written on Spectatrix certainly rings true for me. Introverts tend to have a lower tolerance for noise and a greater need for personal space than extroverts, but there’s certainly a lot of variation. So although I might chalk up some personality trait as being “because” I’m an introvert, there could be other reasons—and it may not be true for other introverts, or true to a different degree.

A few people have expressed confusion at the notion of an introvert running a blog, as though by definition we should be very private people who want to avoid attention of any kind. I guess Morgen and I are pretty private people, but the great thing about the Web is that it lets us share information about ourselves with lots of people in a way that doesn’t drain our energy, since we’re not interacting with everyone at once, or in person. I’ve corresponded with I can’t tell you how many thousands of people who have read one of my books, articles, or Web posts, and because the interactions are all done from the privacy of my office, by typing rather than talking, it’s always felt completely neutral in terms of draining my energy. Again, that may not be true of all introverts, but I think many people would be surprised how many actors, singers, politicians, and even high-profile bloggers would identify themselves as introverts.

Comments

  1. April 8th, 2007 | 2:58 am

    Interesting thought!

    You’re right, based on your definition, I also fall under the Introvert-type. I also do love talking to other people, but I’m most creative when I’m alone. Blogging about what you’re thinking helps a lot. At least this breaks all notions about a person when you’re actually face-to-face.

    -cyberbaguioboy

  2. April 7th, 2007 | 7:58 pm

    Interesting thought!

    You’re right, based on your definition, I also fall under the Introvert-type. I also do love talking to other people, but I’m most creative when I’m alone. Blogging about what you’re thinking helps a lot. At least this breaks all notions about a person when you’re actually face-to-face.

    -cyberbaguioboy

  3. Steph
    April 22nd, 2007 | 2:44 am

    That’s wonderful.. I’ve often wondered how to reconcile an introvert like myself being so open in my blog, which I’ve posted on a password-only basis for five years, yet still has upwards of 100 daily readers. I’m sure I could have come up with a solution if I’d sat down and worked it out, but I never got past the wondering stage on that topic.

    I can share, which I like doing, without draining my energy! That makes so much sense. :)

    Aloha!

  4. Steph
    April 21st, 2007 | 7:44 pm

    That’s wonderful.. I’ve often wondered how to reconcile an introvert like myself being so open in my blog, which I’ve posted on a password-only basis for five years, yet still has upwards of 100 daily readers. I’m sure I could have come up with a solution if I’d sat down and worked it out, but I never got past the wondering stage on that topic.

    I can share, which I like doing, without draining my energy! That makes so much sense. :)

    Aloha!

  5. April 23rd, 2007 | 1:12 am

    Cyberbaguioboy and Steph: Thanks for your comments! I’m glad to hear my post rang true for you.

  6. April 22nd, 2007 | 6:12 pm

    Cyberbaguioboy and Steph: Thanks for your comments! I’m glad to hear my post rang true for you.

  7. May 7th, 2007 | 11:47 pm

    Add me to the list of introverted bloggers. The part that rang the most true for me in this post was the idea of sharing information without draining energy. BINGO! We have a winner! I don’t know if I could have verbalized that idea myself when I started my blog back in December 2006. My blog was created as a way to keep up with family and friends that are scattered about the country, and is, frankly, easier on my energy levels than multiple emails and phone calls.

    Thank you!

  8. May 7th, 2007 | 4:47 pm

    Add me to the list of introverted bloggers. The part that rang the most true for me in this post was the idea of sharing information without draining energy. BINGO! We have a winner! I don’t know if I could have verbalized that idea myself when I started my blog back in December 2006. My blog was created as a way to keep up with family and friends that are scattered about the country, and is, frankly, easier on my energy levels than multiple emails and phone calls.

    Thank you!

  9. May 8th, 2007 | 12:34 am

    Lainane: Thanks for your comments. If you haven’t already done so, be sure to check out Morgen’s Spectatrix blog. I’m sure you’ll find a lot there that fits with your experiences.

  10. May 7th, 2007 | 5:34 pm

    Lainane: Thanks for your comments. If you haven’t already done so, be sure to check out Morgen’s Spectatrix blog. I’m sure you’ll find a lot there that fits with your experiences.

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