On the same topic, I believe there’s an argument that workplaces have come to favour extroverts more than introverts with the modern way of working, open plan offices, brain-storming sessions, away days and all. Thinking about this over the last few days I’m not sure about this one either. Did people really used to be less thrown together at work? Open plan offices are thought of as a modern development, but the women who used to work in open plan typing pools in the fifties and sixties might beg to differ. Production lines and factory floors force people together, but then again a lot of preindustrial jobs would have involved being with a lot of other people, even if only intermittently – and a lot of jobs would have given people no privacy at all. I’m not sure that things have necessarily changed that much.
The idea of privacy itself may even be a modern invention; most human societies outside modern western ones don’t put a high value on individual privacy or make many concessions to it, if indeed they even acknowledge it as a concept. The idea of the optimum way of living being to exist sealed off in small individual or nuclear family units is a modern one which has, indeed, been blamed for a lot of the ills of the developed world.
So I’m not really sure where that leaves this idea of the introvert versus the extravert. Maybe the problem really does come down to visibility and what, coining a ridiculously pompous phrase, I’m going to call “the tyranny of perceived normality.” (Get me!!!) It’s inevitable that we see more of the social, the noisy, the communal, than of the private, the quiet, the individual. People do very occasionally post on Facebook to say they’re having a ten hour Breaking Bad marathon, but they don’t tend to post pictures of themselves on the sofa in their pyjamas covered in Doritos as readily as they post pictures of themselves glammed up in bars under the caption “Cocktails with the girls!!!” In these circumstances it’s easy to forget that you’re not the only one who looks forward to a Saturday night slumped on the sofa in front of Game of Thrones with a plate of Marmite toast and a glass of red wine. And from there it is but a small step to believing you’re a sad lonely b*stard rather than just someone who likes a night in every now and again.