Egger’s book of the month: Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking

Matthew Egger, copy editor

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Introversion is commonly regarded as an undesirable trait. Introverts are, at times, viewed as socially inept, incapable of leading others, and unassertive. As an introvert myself, I frequently find myself frustrated with these untrue beliefs about introverts and the undue value that is placed on excessive human interaction today.

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain displays introverts as having immeasurable value despite being quieter members of a society that overvalues constant interhuman interaction and gregariousness while showing a distaste for reflection, introspection, and solitude.

One key insight I took away from reading Quiet was that the difference between introverts and extroverts is how they handle stimulus. While extroverts tend to respond well to lots of external stimuli, introverts prefer to exist in a more subdued environment. However, this does not mean that introverts are unable to have meaningful social interactions. Cain writes, “Introverts, in contrast, may have strong social skills and enjoy parties and business meetings, but after a while wish they were home in their pajamas. They prefer to devote their social energies to close friends, colleagues, and family.”

In Quiet, Cain argues that introversion has earned an unjustified negative connotation. Society’s distaste for introverted characteristics leaves introverts feeling excluded from the inner-workings of society. Cain writes “Introversion—along with its cousins sensitivity, seriousness, and shyness—is now a second-class personality trait, somewhere between a disappointment and a pathology. Introverts living in the Extrovert Ideal are like women in a man’s world, discounted because of a trait that goes to the core of who they are.” As an introverted person, I have occasionally felt that there is something inherently wrong about being reclusive, shy, or serious. However, after reading Cain’s book, I felt slightly more content and accepting of my introverted character.

Many introverts, Cain argues, end up trying to fit into the “Extrovert Idea” by ridding themselves of their introversion. Instead of trying to become someone that one is not, Cain instead argues that introverts should embrace their personality. Don’t think of introversion as something that needs to be cured,” Cain writes.