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Awhile ago I was researching a topic on the Internet, and found several psychologists saying that extended time spent on the Internet led to depression. Something didn't resonate with me when I read that. I spend a lot of time on the Internet and it energizes me. But then I'm more of an introvert.
But I'm only more of an introvert than an extravert, as I spent years in the effervescent fields of marketing and P.R. How so?
According to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (M-B), extraverts prefer to interact with people and the outside world. They tend to enjoy the high-energy, outgoing professions like sales and marketing. Introverts, on the other hand, pefer an inner world of concepts and ideas. Their energy comes from quiet thought and introspection. Typical professions for them are writers, lawyers or researchers. But these are only preferences, says Janet Thuesen, co-author of "Type Talk," a book about the M-B.
Most introverts manage to act like extraverts when the occasion calls for it, just as left-handed people manage to use the numeric keypad on the computer.
Jeb Livingood is a left-handed INFJ who's a full time computer programmer. He did a study of M-B types and their use of computer-mediated communication and came to the important conclusion that introverts are "connected, communicating, and comfortable in cyberspace."
In fact, the computer seems almost to have been created for the peace- loving introverts who make up only 25-30% of the population. "It allows them to communicate in their preferred manner," says Livingood, "a written dialogue with time to pause for thought and analysis." It gives them a way to express themselves without what Livingood calls "the growing verbal inferno (cell phones, pagers, teleconferencing) [that] threatens to engulf the world's quieter individuals."
On the Internet there are mailing lists for many of the M-B types. There are more than 5 times as many introverts on them as extraverts, Livingood found. "Computers are the friend of the introvert," says Thuesen. "Extraverts often seem too impatient for computers; they get frustrated. They would rather be out talking to someone or performing some action."
E-mail allows the deliberative and quieter introvert to respond at their own pace, as they wish, and without interruption. Perhaps more importantly, the Internet allows them to find like-minded individuals across the planet, when 3 out of 4 people they meet aren't like them. Introverts may even have the advantage in today's information society.
It might well be depressing to an extrovert to have to crawl inside a computer when they could be outside playing with the guys, but to most introverts, it's a close thing to heaven. Email can be edited too! Be still my beating heart.
Susan Dunn is a personal and professional development coach with an international clientele. She also conducts email coaching for the introverts! Email her for free ezine and catalogue of distance learning courses.