The first time anything about our current situation really felt different for me was the day when they closed the gyms and yoga studios. Up until that point nothing much had changed in my day to day life – I was at home in between tours, and although I love going out in nature for walks, we rarely eat out, we’re new to the area so don’t know many people, and I’m not a leisure shopper, so it didn’t feel all that different. But I did go to the gym and yoga classes which all stopped abruptly one Monday – and then a lot of it continued, as people hopped aboard the Zoom train.
But then, I had to take a step back and go completely offline for a few days. There was an unexpected phenomenon happening and I didn’t like it one bit. Suddenly I felt that, far from being in social isolation, everybody and his dog was inviting themselves into my space by adding me, unprompted, to Messenger and WhatsApp groups and my phone was pinging alerts from people I’ve never even met in person. I felt invaded and intruded upon, and I was decidedly NOT into it.
It dawned on me that introverts and extroverts are handling this differently.
To an introvert much has stayed the same, whereas for our extroverted friends, everything has changed and they’re not digging it at all.
I don’t think introversion / extroversion is black and white, I think it’s a spectrum and we all fall somewhere along it. The best description of the two traits I’ve heard is that extroverts get energy from being around other people, whereas introverts get it from being alone – it’s not necessarily to do with either being shy and timid or a loudmouthed life-of-the-party type. I reckon I’m around 70-80% introvert. I’m a confident person and I love being with my mates (although large gatherings don’t do it for me, I prefer small groups or one-on-one), but then I need to retreat and have time alone to recharge.
We’re all concerned about the health and economic situation. But that aside, from speaking to friends who lean towards introversion they describe themselves as everything from ‘quite enjoying’ the quarantine to ‘absolutely loving it’!
Extroverted friends, however, are struggling. They don’t know how this works, and they’re feeling low on good vibes because they’re used to getting energised by being in company. I thought they’d all be bang up for the Zoom thing, but interestingly some people said that, although they’re grateful for it, they almost feel lonelier afterwards because they don’t feel they truly connected. Certainly the energy of an online meetup is totally different – negligible in comparison to being together in person. You can’t get into someone’s aura through broadband and a screen, and it strikes me that that’s where the true energy exchange happens. And of course there’s the ‘all talking over each other’ thing that can happen in group meetups – the tech works well for classes and seminars, but for heart-to-hearts it seems better suited to just two users.
So how can we help each other out? I think just understanding that we’re all experiencing and handling this differently is a start. From the introverted perspective I’d suggest asking before adding people to a group unless you know them in person (and as we’re all on a bit of an emotional rollercoaster, I’d wager that none of us can guess what anyone else is feeling at any given moment). My extroverted friends have said they light up when someone messages them to see how they’re doing and (even better) suggests a chat, so it could be a good time to think about who you haven’t spoken to in a while – especially the friends who don’t do social media and who don’t live with anyone.
Wherever you fall on the spectrum, we’re all in this together, and we’ll get by with a little help from our friends.