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“If we are not able to be alone, we’re only going to know how to be lonely.”

A little while ago I saw a TED talk from Susan Cain, a writer and former lawyer, on the virtues of being an introvert. Her 2012 book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, explores the topic in great detail and explains the flaws of the “extrovert ideal.”

Her speech is cautious, sometimes awkward, but her thoughts really shine through. Watch it below:

Then just today, I caught another video from a student at the Shenkar College of Engineering and Design. It’s Shimi Cohen’s final Visual Communications project, and he calls it “The Innovation of Loneliness.” Take a look:

There are some truly remarkable insights in this cleanly-presented video, and I’d like to grab a few that stood out to me and share them below:

“Loneliness has become the most common ailment of the modern world”

“One of the possible reasons for this ailment is the online social network… Simpler, hopeful, optimistic, ever-young. … The social network which supplies an impressive platform that allows us to manage our social life most effectively.”

“We’re collecting friends like stamps… We’re sacrificing conversation for mere connection.”

“So what is the problem in having a conversation? Well, it takes place in real time and you can’t control what you’re going to say. That is the bottom line. Texting, email, posting — all of these things let us present ourselves as we want it to be. We get to edit, and that means, we get to delete. Instead of building true friendships, we’re obsessed with endless personal promotion. Investing hours on end building our profile, pursuing the optimal order of words in our next message, choosing the pictures in which we look our best, all of which is meant to serve as a desirable image of who we are. We’re expecting more from technology, and less from each other.”

“I share, therefore I am.

We use technology to define ourselves, by sharing our thoughts and feelings even as we’re having them. Furthermore, we’re faking experiences so we have something to share.”

“If we are not able to be alone, we’re only going to know how to be lonely.”

Bravo, Mr. Cohen.

At the heart of it all, introverts exist and loneliness is everywhere. Neither of the two should be confused with the other, but both are very real. I certainly have traces of introversion in me – I like to think on my own, observe and listen, be in my own space – and I know that loneliness has been in my life often enough for me to suffer a lot from it. As for social media: I am a victim, but I’m beginning to try to master it so it doesn’t master me.

I do believe we’ve all been there before.

@calvinqlam

Feature photo courtesy of TEDtalksDirector (YouTube), Shimi Cohen (Vimeo).

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3 thoughts on “Introversion and loneliness: two real big ideas

  1. Pingback: How Technology Increases Loneliness | Just Succseed

  2. Pingback: No More KM | The Cranky Giraffe

  3. Pingback: Explore – An illustrated ode to introverts by Grant Snider…. | skatterbOt

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