With most of us in our homes during the pandemic, some say that the introverts would thrive during quarantine, as they wouldn’t get lonely from the lack of social interaction at all. That is wrong. Introverts do get lonely. Anyone who’s cooped up in their homes without the choice (or the privilege) of going outside would get lonely and sad at some point. Whether an introvert or extrovert, everyone draws energy from other people, as The New York Times detailed:
It’s often said that extroverts get their energy from people, while introverts are energized by solitude. The data show that’s a myth. In a pair of studies, people rated their energy hourly or weekly. Extroverts felt more energized when they were being talkative and outgoing — but introverts did, too. Then, in an experiment, people were randomly assigned to act like extroverts or introverts in a group discussion. Acting extroverted energized even the introverts.
“Everybody draws energy from other people,” Susan Cain, the author of “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking,” said on my TED podcast, WorkLife. “Introverts aren’t antisocial — just differently social!”
What makes introverts different is our sensitivity to stimulation: We’re more easily overloaded than extroverts. When introverts spend a whole week acting like extroverts, there is evidence that the emotional benefits fade and costs begin to emerge — introverts start to feel more negative emotions, more exhaustion and less authenticity. I enjoy being with other people. Some of my best friends are extroverts! Just don’t make me sit next to them on a long flight.
Now that we’re all in some form of isolation, this knowledge has implications for how we fight loneliness. If you’re an extrovert, you might find yourself opting for virtual co-working with strangers and dreading a Sad Desk Lunch. Introverts crave social connection, too, we just need to be careful not to overdo it. For me, eating alone is a Happy Desk Lunch, because it allows me to stay focused and avoid getting drained. New evidence shows that working through lunch alone doesn’t bother people as long as it’s their choice. It hurts only when people want connection but can’t find it.
image via The New York Times