Monday, October 01, 2012

An Introvert in a Wired World

Introverts are often fond of peace and quiet: so fond, in fact, that unnecessary noise can be downright intrusive. My standard pet peeves along these lines are TVs in airports. You can't get away from them except in the restrooms and airline lounges, which are not cheap.
Some gas stations now have TVs with advertisements blaring while you're pumping gas. Here's a clue that they know the practice is annoying: the only way to turn off the noise is to buy some gasoline. THEN the mute button works. In Orwell's 1984, the only way to turn off the telescreens was to become a senior political official.

Another gripe, since I'm on a roll here: relentless "social networking." The Yelp app on my iPhone is a decent service for locating businesses in any city, along with customer reviews. But in addition (the programmers are never at rest), they have a contact/texting feature so that you can communicate with your friends while looking for a particular business. To which my introverted mind is asking, "Why?"

Maybe I'm simple minded here, but I really don't NEED that. Yelp is the electronic version of the Yellow Pages. All well and good, but if I'm looking for a business, that's all I want to do.
I've been fighting these types of battles with the internet for years now. One of my first introvert-based reactions occurred when I installed one of the instant messaging (IM) apps on my PC. The default setting for the app is as follows:
  • It activates as soon as you turn on your computer.
  • It tells all of your friends that you are online.
So what happened multiple times was that if I didn't set my status to "busy" soon enough, an extrovert friend would ping me and want to chat right away when all I wanted to do was check my email (an asynchronous method of communicating that I initiate). When it became clear that the messaging services--AOL and MSN--were not wired for my type of behavior, I shut off one and uninstalled the other. If I want to have a real-time chat, I'll call you and talk on the phone.

The bottom line is that the internet is reducing the number of places and ways for introverts to get the space and privacy we need to function well. There are ways to push back without depriving yourself of human contact or useful gadgets, but you have to work at it. And maybe it would help to find some programmers who are willing to design applications with introverts in mind.

Something to think about.

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