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November 13, 2010

Reason 6,136 that the internet is not a waste of time
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 07:10 PM * 86 comments

I’m not a regular reader of Roger Ebert’s blog. He writes good stuff, such as his deeply personal account of his experiences with the AA, but reticula longa, vita brevis, you know?

Still, right now he’s pulled the cork out of a bottle, and it’s interesting watching him deal with it. He wrote a piece on lonely people, and how he had come to understand something of the value that the internet has for them. He wrote it from the perspective of being one of those happy people who does not get lonely, and I think he goes astray as he does. He wants to attribute it to causes, to lost loves or love never found, but I tend to think that some of us are simply prone to longing.

I don’t even know what we long for. Not necessarily for companionship, or love, or friendship and interesting conversation; I have all of those in abundance. I’ve been married seventeen years, and I know I am beloved. My children adore me the way that children often do adore their mother. I have friendships both in person and remote. And I return all of these sentiments wholeheartedly. I’m not achingly lonely the way I was as a teenager. But still…

An evangelical type might tell me I long for his version of God. Madison Avenue will happily detail all that I should long for, and how much I can save by buying it while it’s on special offer. Many Americans, particularly conservatives, will tell me that I long for liberty, here in “oppressive” Europe. Perhaps any or all of these people are right, but I doubt it. My experiences don’t match their assumptions.

Something in me longs for a place I feel at home; perhaps that’s it. This has been particularly sharp in the past few years, since my move to the Netherlands. Homesickness and culture shock are both flavors of loneliness. But I have lived abroad all my adult life. I left America at 23, and if I went back now, I would not fit in. Looking around my expat-heavy office, I see that many people learn to wear that strangeness with an ease I rarely find.

Mostly, I think, it’s just part of who I am. I’ve learned not to try to fill that longing with unsuitable things. (Or perhaps it would be better to say that I’ve learned to try not to fill it with unsuitable things. The lure of chocolate and unnecessary bookbinding supplies frequently causes me to fail.) One can live with this thing, as one lives with depression or fatigue.

The first article got a lot of comments, and Ebert has just followed it up with another post. He seems particularly struck by the impact that abusive families have on children (a matter we are not unacquainted with here, of course). But he still spends some time groping for an explanation, making it something beyond simple character. I am reminded of at least one counselor I went to in the past. We didn’t make it beyond one appointment.

Then he moves on to talk about the nature of the comments on his first article, which seem to him like nothing so much as an AA meeting:

Reading more than 400 comments under my previous entry, it occurred to me that I was attending a virtual meeting. Usually on a blog people will comment on each other’s posts. Disagree. Attack. Correct. Support. Lecture. I sensed there was something different about this group of comments. I caught on that they were mostly first person. They were about the experience of that writer. They said, This is what’s happening in my life. They said, Here is how I feel about it. Nobody wrote back saying, The trouble with you is… or suggesting What you should do… Nobody was corrected. Nobody was attacked. Everybody spoke.

I know those conversations. I love such threads deeply, here and elsewhere. I am honored when they’re something I started, and uplifted when I join them partway. That sort of intense honesty also brings me back to PostSecret every week.

Such community, I think, is balm for the longing person. Knowing that one is not alone, even in the feeling of isolation, is a powerful and empowering thing. And reaching out of one’s own solitude, making others feel valued and important, fills the incoherent hole better than chocolate.

Kudos to Ebert for recognizing it. And thanks to you, here, for being such a community.

Comments on Reason 6,136 that the internet is not a waste of time:
#1 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2010, 07:24 PM:

Thank *you* for helping host and nurture such a community.

#2 ::: Mark ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2010, 07:47 PM:

abi, I think you nail it with the word community. By now, everyone here has probably heard of the sociological concept of the third place. Modern life is so pressured, with work sucking up every second it can from home life, that the time once set aside for the relaxed camaraderie of the third place is all but nonexistent. Some of the communities we develop online seem to me to be an effort to carve out, a few minutes at a time from our home and work lives, the time and space we need to have in that third place.

(And I must say, the craic here is brilliant.)

#3 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2010, 07:52 PM:

Indeed, thank you, all the moderators and our gracious hosts, and all of the posters and the lurkers who take part in the Fluorosphere. I don't know of anywhere else in the world where one can find such a concentration of friendship, compassion, empathy, sympathy, wisdom, knowledge, wit, humor, passion, and joie de vivre. And that combination is hard to find in any amount.

abi, in another thread you were talking about grace. I find that word describes very well what I see as the fundamental characteristic that Making Light strives for.

#4 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2010, 08:48 PM:

I agree with you that loneliness, for me, seems to be built-in, rather than the result of outside circumstances. I too have a good marriage (30 years next month), loving family both of origin and descent, and few but good friends. The kind of friends who will drive 3 hours to go to your mother's funeral. The kind of friends who will take you to the firing range for desensitization and counter-conditioning. THAT kind of friends.

But I'm also not the kind of person who's on anyone's A-list; nobody's bridesmaid, nobody's godmother, nobody's best friend. Not a leader, not a spokesperson. (This is one reason I can't listen to people who use terms like "sheeple" or "cow-orker"--I *am* one of those faceless units. There is no pond small enough for me to be one of the big fish--and believe me, I grew up in a mighty small pond.)

When I was young I fully expected to do great things. Instead, my legacy is a few copies of my genes (I did do a good job picking out the other set of chromosomes to go with them), some good conversation, a lot of clean clothes and dishes that got dirty again, and a few old dogs who had longer and happier lives than they otherwise would have.

There are almost 7 billion of us out here. We can't all be stars.

#5 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2010, 09:11 PM:

I've always been fine alone. I like being with people in person -- bookgroup, cons, dinner with friends -- and online, but it's not necessary. Of course, I have cats.

#6 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2010, 09:45 PM:

Richard Rodriguez's memoir Hunger of Memory has a line near the end that's stuck with me for a while: "There are things so deeply personal that they can be revealed only to strangers." I can see what he was getting at, and I see some of that here.

Not that we're all strangers to each other (though I have yet to meet any of the regulars here in person); but that there's a certain way in which it can be easier to talk about some things with people who are not so close to you than with the people who are with you all the time (as much as you might love them).

Of course, there can be overlap. I first met my love in another online place that was not unlike this one in some ways. I'm very glad that I've had her in my life these last 18 or so years. I'm also glad I have places like this to visit, and the opportunity to listen to and participate in the conversations when I choose. Thank you, hosts and community members.

#7 ::: Melissa Mead ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2010, 09:54 PM:

I first read about the blog entry somewhere else, and certain ML threads came to mind.

I wonder if some of us write because we're trying to create mental "third places?"

#8 ::: Dena Shunra ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2010, 09:56 PM:

Perhaps that quote from Starhawk needs to be aired again: "Community. Somewhere there are people to whom we can speak with passion without having the words catch in our throats. Somewhere a circle of hands will open to receive us, eyes will light up as we enter, voices will celebrate with us whenever we come into our own power. Community means strength that joins our strength to do the work that needs to be done. Arms to hold us when we falter. A circle of healing. A circle of friends. Someplace where we can be free."

#9 ::: Suzanne ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2010, 10:02 PM:

Thank you very much for posting this. I can only describe my sense of feeling like I belong somewhere, to any group or community, as like standing at the fringes of the campfire where the light just meets the dark; part of me would long to be invited to sit by the fire itself in the thick of my friends, to be more than some tangential presence, but another part of me recognizes that out here on the edge I can also see the stars and hear the many sounds of night, and it's all okay. The internet just gives me a choice of many, many campfires. (-:

Loneliness doesn't always mean you are lacking something you need.

#10 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2010, 10:09 PM:

I think that Wikipedia entry is missing a point -- namely, that some online communities also fulfill the definition of "third place". Check it out:

free or inexpensive -- if you can afford Internet access at all, online communities are free
food and drink, while not essential, are important -- this is the giveaway that they're thinking about Cheers (or at least, bars/pubs in general)
highly accessible: proximate for many (walking distance) -- again, if you have online access at all, distance is irrelevant
involve regulars – those who habitually congregate there -- definitely
welcoming and comfortable; both new friends and old should be found there -- definitely, and they may be anywhere in the world

The first place where I encountered this online realization of "third place" was the old alt.callahans, closely followed by rec.crafts.beads. LiveJournal isn't as exact a parallel, because everyone's LJ circle of friends is different; however, Making Light and other community-oriented blogs do seem to fit the bill. To be sure, the ambiance in each place is a little different -- but that's true of physical gathering places as well.

#11 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2010, 10:39 PM:

I wave at Lee, whom I met in alt.callahans--along with Rivka, sometime commenter here, whose link I followed. My online friendships seem to last longer than all but a few of my meatspace ones, perhaps because y'all are always right there in my computer. (Unless my cable goes out, in which case I feel cold and alone.)

Another mark of the reality of online community is that my mother has stopped worrying when I tell her I'm going to stay with my imaginary Internet friends. Now she just reminds me to call when I get there.

#12 ::: Rainflame ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2010, 11:11 PM:

Reading Roger Ebert's post brought a shock of recognition. I too was the child who went home to an empty house and enjoyed that time alone. I can quite happily travel alone, and whether I interact or even speak with anyone else is immaterial. My current job requires me to be at work an hour before everyone else, and I cherish that quiet hour.
I do sometimes wonder if the fact that I rarely get lonely is a blessing, or a sign of something fundamental missing in my character or emotional makeup.

#13 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2010, 11:57 PM:

Something in me longs for a place I feel at home

I have that too. I was reminded of it on a recent trip to my grandfather's home village in the Old World. He emigrated away, but when my grandmother became gravely ill, he took her and their family back there and built a fine brick house for her to die in. And then he buried her in his family plot, and took his kids back to the country they'd been born in.

(Her grave doesn't exist anymore because of urban development. The remaining local relatives gathered up 1000+ graves, cremated the remains, and built a new columbarium for the ashes. The fine brick house still exists, but probably not for long.)

All of my family roots before the 20th century are in that region, but I didn't feel at home there. (It doesn't help that I can't speak the language.) I should've remembered what I figured out years ago-- perhaps my grandparents left because *they* didn't feel at home there either. My parents certainly moved to the US because they didn't feel at home in the country where they'd been born.

Home is where, what, and who(m) you make it, if you can. I think I've stopped blaming myself for a persistent sense of Not Belonging and simply become resigned to it as a chronic (and perhaps hereditary) condition.

#14 ::: Lois Fundis ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2010, 12:06 AM:

Lee at #10: food and drink, while not essential, are important -- this is the giveaway that they're thinking about Cheers (or at least, bars/pubs in general)

Is this possibly the reason so many of my online hangouts spend a lot of time *talking about* food and drink? And music, another thing often found in bars/pubs?

#15 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2010, 12:25 AM:


Instead, my legacy is a few copies of my genes (I did do a good job picking out the other set of chromosomes to go with them), some good conversation, a lot of clean clothes and dishes that got dirty again, and a few old dogs who had longer and happier lives than they otherwise would have.

you rescue dachshunds, right? i remember you linked to two pictures of a dog of yours, one from when you first got her, & one more recent, & it looked like the difference between life & death. those pictures almost made me cry, & they have stayed in my head since.

i know you weren't looking for compliments, but this seemed like a good place to tell you that i think you're amazing.

#16 ::: Brooks Moses ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2010, 02:57 AM:

It's too late in the evening for me to be coherent enough to say something profound, but I still want to say that this resonates with me, a lot.

#17 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2010, 03:31 AM:

The food and drink thing is a fair observation of meatspace community. I recall saying something not entirely unrelated myself, once upon a time. It's also why most parties, no matter how nice the living room, end up in the kitchen unless the host strategizes to prevent it.

And I think we eat and drink near our computers for a reason, too. Even if we're not sharing food, we're eating near others, emotionally.

#18 ::: janra ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2010, 06:43 AM:

Rainflame #12 -

If there is something missing from your character it is missing from mine too. I don't feel anything is missing (anymore, once I stopped listening to the people who told me I was broken because I liked time alone).

I have worked night shift where the only person I saw for 12 hours was the day shift person at either end when we crossed over, and the cook at midnight lunch. I found it relaxing. I told some friends about it and they said they'd go mad.

I am the person who is happy alone, but feels lonely in a crowd.

I enjoy talking to people; most individuals are quite friendly once a conversation starts, I've found. I'm also just as happy to be silent and not talk.

There is no horrible secret in my past. I love my parents, I liked most of my teachers.

Sometimes I forget to turn the radio on in the car.

I just enjoy the silence.

Sometimes I regret having a 9-5 job now, because it makes it that much harder for me to be out at 4AM, when the world is quiet and I have it all to myself. But I enjoy my job.

#19 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2010, 07:37 AM:

janra, Rainflame:

For what it's worth (your mileage may vary, void where prohibited, contents may settle in transit), I don't think there's anything "missing" from either your makeup or mine. I think people vary enormously, in ways too subtle and too pervasive for any names to fit. I think human characters fall into bell curves on innumerable axes.

Thus do people find value in horoscopes and Myers Briggs and late-night conversations in kitchens. Thus can we be profoundly like a person one minute, almost soul mates, and the next wonder if we're even the same species.

It's like the eternal question of whether what I see when I look at a blue thing is the same as what you see. We've learned to label the thing we see as "blue", but what that actually looks like to our brains is forever untraceable, un-comparable.

Doesn't make either of us wrong, or lacking something, or less than the other. It merely makes us different, and I consider that a feature, not a bug.

(By the way, have you ever read Vers de Société, by Philip Larkin? It touches on this very subject.)

#20 ::: janra ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2010, 08:01 AM:

I consider it a feature, too. I just haven't figured out how to convince the people who think it's a bug otherwise.

So I learned to ignore them instead.

It's hardest when somebody you're close to tells you this, and also that ignoring people when they tell you you're wrong is a bad strategy. I can't remember his exact phrasing, but it had to do with getting into a bad place psychologically.

It's taken me a while to figure out a response to that last, but I have recently clarified to myself that what I ignore is people who tell me I am Doing It Wrong "because", "because I don't like it", "because everybody does it *this* way", and other such reasons related to preference or convention. If they have an actual reason other than convention, I try to listen and have been known to change my behaviour.

#21 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2010, 09:05 AM:

miriam beetle @ #15, thank you. I no longer do rescue (too many animals of my own now), and the dog in question is something of a mixed blessing (she's bitten 3 people, and as a result I have to pay the county a fee of $100 per year to continue keeping her), but those photos are still my personal "star thrower" touchstone ("I made a difference to this one.").

#22 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2010, 09:59 AM:

abi (17): I think we eat and drink near our computers for a reason, too.

That "we" is not universal. I not only don't eat/drink near my computer, I'm always amazed when reminded that other people do. Spilling a drink on a keyboard is a bad thing, and spilling one on the main computer even worse. Why risk it?

I think it's partly because my mother had a very firm rule that food and drink is *not* taken out of the kitchen/dining room area. Ever. (Exceptions made for parties, and only for parties.) She relaxed this once we all hit adulthood--I was absolutely shocked the first time she allowed us to take our drinks to the living room after dinner--but I still have it internalized as a rule.

#23 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2010, 10:27 AM:

Lois, #14: You may be onto something there! That hadn't occurred to me, but I'd say there's a good chance you're right.

janra, #18: That's a nearly-canonical description of an introvert. Do you also find that visiting people who can't turn the damn TV off is irritating?

... and @20, did she use any variation of the phrase "in denial"? Because that's a HUGE red flag; it's something you can think to yourself about someone, but there is never anything useful to be gained by saying it TO them, so for me it's an indication of bullying.

Ignoring people when they tell you you're wrong is only a bad strategy when you really are wrong. Creationism, anyone?

#24 ::: Bruce Adelsohn ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2010, 10:53 AM:

Rainflame @12, janra @18: It's no coincidence that this is my favorite song from Guys and Dolls:

My time of day is the dark time
A couple of deals before dawn
When the street belongs to the cop
And the janitor with the mop
And the grocery clerk is all gone...

("My Time of Day", of course, and it's an understandable shame that it was only hinted at in the film, because it's a hard song to sing, and Marlon Brando was no Frank Sinatra.)

I've been working primarily overnight shifts for the past fifteen years (though never in solitude) and socializing largely online in that time. Quelle surprise :-)

#25 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2010, 11:55 AM:

I left America at 23, and if I went back now, I would not fit in

That's how it is for me when I visit the places of my youth - except for La Librairie Pantoute in Québec City. After moving to Albuquerque 10 years ago, it's finally starting to feel like home when I go back, because I'm now more involved with the local SF group. Still, without the wonderful friends I've found thru Making Light...

#26 ::: janra ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2010, 12:12 PM:

Lee, #23: yes, I know. On Myers-Briggs I typically test 9/10 introvert.

That surprises a lot of people who don't see me in groups because in a one-on-one situation I really enjoy conversation.

And TV in general is irritating. TV "in the background" is maddening.

"In denial" wasn't used in that case. I usually just get exhortations to go out and Be Social (aka party) because It's Good For You, followed by uncomprehending stares when I explain that I dislike that sort of situation. Sometimes "how do you have fun?"

The problem with ignoring people when they tell you that you're wrong when they just don't get it, is that I then turn around and believe that "just because they laugh at you doesn't mean you're right" (conspiracy theories, urban legends, alternative medecine, and various mythologies of varying prevalence). How does one explain to those important to you that there's a difference between rejecting someone's criticism when all they have as an argument is that it's conventional, and rejecting someone's criticism when they explain that the reason something is believed by the mainstream is because it's true.

Of course looking over that, it's a decent explanation - as long as you can agree on what is merely conventional and what is actually true.

#27 ::: Shelly ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2010, 01:02 PM:

I've been a loner most of my life, mostly due to an incredible shyness. When I got older, it was often by choice. I can be lonely in a crowd and lonely when I'm alone, but mostly, I'm fine alone, despite a quarter century of being married.

I discovered the internet, via AOL, at the end of 1996. It was a revelation, a way for me to be alone and with people, on my own terms, at the same time! The AOL Writers Club boards were a place I eagerly went to every night when I got home from work, and when it fell apart, I felt like I'd lost true friends, even if most of them had already left and the crazies and the obnoxious were mostly the ones remaining. The loss of those boards left a void in my life and I've spent the following years trying all sorts of message boards and social media, trying to recapture that feeling of community.

Through social media, I've made true friends over the years. I've met some in real life and I've chatted with others online a few nights a week. The internet brings together people with similar interests and outlooks on your own schedule, unlike anything in real life where meetings have to be fixed to a time; even an Open House has a set schedule. But online, we can come and go at our own pace, read the comments on a thread like this, add something, subscribe to the thread, then move on to something else.

I really wish I'd grown up in a world like today.

#28 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2010, 02:30 PM:

Shelly, my first internet-home full of writers also ended, and we were sad. I still have some of them, though, and it sort of led to Alpha.

I sometimes say I'm dead of social. That means I am going to stay home with a book the next few nights, and I might not even extend myself to the wider internet. My friends understand this.

I find I do very well with quiet-- I haven't even put music onto this computer, which means it's been more than a years since I listened to anything but Youtube, 'you have to hear this group', and the radio on long trips and in the background other places-- and with isolation. It takes me a while to really *need* other people. The problem seems to be that I can make my world so very small, so very still, for long enough that I fall out of the habit of people, but still need them. I am a self-boiling frog.

I've developed hacks for this, mostly that I'm not going to move back to my hometown-- no one there for me any more but family-- and my social interactions are mostly scheduled. Saturdays are Knitter's Breakfast, Mondays are Pub Knit, so I have food, conversation, and making things. Before this, almost all my social interaction was shared-activity stuff, with classmates and such. It hurt to realize that two weeks after graduation, I had lost all my high school friends because we'd never interacted outside scripted activities.

I worry about if-- when?-- I get a real job and move. How will I find people who aren't coworkers?

#29 ::: Thena ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2010, 03:02 PM:

@28 I worry about if-- when?-- I get a real job and move. How will I find people who aren't coworkers?

I'm another big introvert type and what ended up happening to me both times I moved cross-continent was religion. Which is not everybody's thing, but if you find a grove/temple/congregation/parish/unit-of-faith that suits your spiritual specialty, you start meeting people. Some of them you will avoid like the plague, some of them end up being kind of cool and they introduce you to the other cool people they know...

(in Oregon, it was answering an ad in the local pagan newsletter. In Maine, once I determined that I desperately needed people who were neither my co-workers nor my inlaws, I showed up at the local UU church... and got recruited into the choir within about 15 minutes, and then someone from the choir asked if I was interested in joining the group that was working on building repair... and someone else from the choir wanted to know if I was interested in helping out at the rummage sale... and one thing led to another and three years on I'm chairing a committee and turning down opportunities to Do Various Things because I don't have enough hours in the week. But that's the opposite problem.)

If the thought of showing up at church sets your guts on fire, other possibilities include continuing-ed classes or various non-profit volunteer opportunities. Pick one or two things that look interesting, try awhile and see if the people 'click' - and then let them introduce you to their networks...

One of the things that freaks me out about 'networking' in the job-search sense is the way it's sometimes presented as a whole huge thing at once ("Just send this email to your 100 closest friends! Ack.) I think the way it applies to us introvert types is that we need to find a nexus of half a dozen to twentyish people who are enough like us that they'll each know half-a-dozen to twentyish people who are enough like them that they'll know half a dozen.... Etc. Allowing for overlap (which, in a town as small as the one I'm adjusting to is plenty) and attrition (to include 'We have nothing in common except different shared interests with So-and-So') the introvert is still usually only a couple of removes from quite a broad circle of peripheral acquaintances.

And who knows, one of them might know -just- the person you're looking for.

#30 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2010, 03:34 PM:

I'm a gregarious introvert. I love people, I love talking to people, and after a certain level of being in the physical presence of other people, I have to go hide, because I start getting anxious and unhappy just by their presence. One of the reasons I love the internet so much is that I can be alone and talking to people, at the same time. And sometimes I don't even need the talking; I just want to know that there are other people within reach, online, if I do need to talk.

But sitting quietly in a busy coffee shop for three hours makes me want to go hide in the library for a while.

When I was in college, as a wide-eyed little frosh, I tried joining the on-campus Christian group, which had a number of problems. (Funny how many of the cult warning signs my Bible teacher in high school had us all memorize before heading off to college showed up in a small group of students that were part of a loosely organized nationwide association.) Most of them I ignored or discreetly worked around, because I was trying to be a good little Christian teenager on a campus where there weren't a lot of those, at least in the way I understood it. Right up until the point of the big weekend-long island trip they sponsored, which was promoted as being full of interesting speakers! swimming! fun with friends!

"I don't like the beach," I told them, and did not go into detail about how much I found their speakers dull.

"But you'll make lots of new friends!" they told me.

"I don't want to make lots of new friends," I told them. "I have a few friends already, and that's enough for me. I like having a small social circle."

"You can't not want to make new friends," they said. "That's not Christian. A good Christian always wants to make more friends."

Which is about when I stopped going to that group's meetings altogether, and overall I think I got a heck of a lot more out of the concert band I joined instead, which met at the same time every week. But even as a frosh, I knew that they were full of shit when they tried to play the "being an introvert means you're a bad Christian" card on me.

#31 ::: MacAllister ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2010, 05:17 PM:

The realness and value of a strong online community was never so apparent to me as just after Katrina, when one of the members of the writers' forum I run was stranded with her two cats, trying to make her way across the country to her family in the Northeast. Flying and the train weren't options because she was dead broke, having paralyzing anxiety attacks, and she had the pets. But other members of the forum organized and drove her with her cats across the country in relay legs, from one member's home to the next. Even now, that gives me shivers (the good kind.)

#32 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2010, 06:09 PM:

I've been trying to think of something intellectual to say, but instead just want to write that it is good that we are not alone in our wanting to be alone-ness.
I'm another person who doesn't like crowds so much, and is entirely happy not meeting anyone for a day or three. But yet I still need to meet people sometimes, I could never be a hermit in a cave somewhere. I need people to give me different views on life, to share experiences with and to ummm, feel close to. But that does not mean I want to go out and meet lots of people or spend the evening with a crowd.

#33 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2010, 07:21 PM:

Mary Aileen, #22, I have a copy of the same (cheap) keyboard in the storeroom and when I spill liquids on one, I swap it out, take it apart, and let it dry. Same with the trackball. I no longer have a dining room and there isn't room for seats in the kitchen. I usually eat in the recliner, but sometimes at the computer. I'm pretty good at not damaging things.

#34 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2010, 07:33 PM:

guthrie @ 32 ...
I tend to think of that as being a borderline introvert-extrovert. It's great being around people sometimes ... but it's just as great to not be around people sometimes -- too much of either is too much.

#35 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2010, 07:43 PM:

Hi, xeger! How have you been?

#36 ::: Angiportus ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2010, 08:21 PM:

Another big introvert here.
I have a few acquaintances, mostly neighbors, and 2 people I consider real friends. My experiences with work and volunteering have not been good due to factors that I think were not all or even mostly my fault. Yes I feel lonely sometimes, and this site helps some.
Have always been more of a things-and-ideas person than a people person, or even an animal person. Relatives dumped on me about this when I was young but they have mostly learned not to do that now. I have said for many years that if one is decent to people, not hurting anyone, one can then go and love/be interested in whatever one jolly well pleases.
I have some sensory issues also, having to do with sounds and shapes (this is innate), as well as trauma from an abused childhood. I have no problem with some crowd situations but others unnerve me, and it isn't the number of people involved, it's how in control I feel, how safe. I need people to talk to sometimes, to help refine ideas and confirm/compare feelings and so on. The ones that challenge me constructively aren't so bad, but the ones who play screwy little mind games like one coworker I had, or who just abandon me when so far as I know I was trying to be a good friend to them, I don't need. A couple more fell to alcohol and depression--I could not help them, and they could not help me.
Relatives and counselors have tried to tell me I have this or that syndrome but my own researches show that the match is never close enough to convince me. When I say this, said relatives and counselors try to tell me I'm in denial and it really ticks me off because what they are doing is basically calling me a liar, and I don't like that. I don't think I lie to myself, and I am tired of people no smarter than me pretending they know more about me than I do. They first blow a lot of smoke up my pantlegs about how smart I supposedly am, and then turn right around and treat me like a moron, not even listening. Nice example to set there, folks. They've been accepting of my being asexual/a-romantic, and they know to keep their hands off me, but they (relatives) don't get it about how I don't want to play games at holiday gatherings. Well, a couple of them have been under stresses of their own this year, I try to factor that in. But when I give in, I feel...cheapened. I already help out in the kitchen and so on, that ought to be enough, and I can't explain quite what unnerves me about the games and so on, and do I have to explain every last thing I do?
But not everyone is like that. And it's the ones that listen to me, and accept me for what I am, that really taught me how to listen to them and accept them, and so on. I feel like I've learned a lot. They help hold me together. And we don't have to be together all the time, or share all the same interests [machining and gadgets seems a close enough match.]
Thena's ideas might be of use to me--perhaps I can find local trebuchet enthusiasts.

#37 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2010, 08:22 PM:

Marilee (33): That sounds like a good solution.

#38 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2010, 09:03 PM:

Fade Manley @ 30: Interesting. Some campus Christian groups have been rather cult-like, and in fact there was a study done in the 1980s that noted a strong pressure both in one of the popular campus Christian movements, and in various other cult-like groups, to conform to a standard personality type. (In Myers-Briggs terms, there was a strong push to ESFJ, or closely related types.)

The study's summarized in Chapter 2 of the book The Discipling Dilemma (which you can read online).

#39 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2010, 10:07 PM:

Fade Notes: I'm a gregarious introvert. I love people, I love talking to people, and after a certain level of being in the physical presence of other people, I have to go hide, because I start getting anxious and unhappy just by their presence.i

Sounds a lot like me, but I have a fairly high endurance / tolerance as long as I'm with good friends.

Idle chit-chat and "fun" with strangers or near-strangers is utterly exhausting and not-fun.

#40 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2010, 10:50 PM:

TexAnne @ 35 ...
Hi, xeger! How have you been?

I've been having attacks of life, which have taken the form of flu, stress, and brainlessness (one might even find oneself wondering about a zombie virus).

Appropriately enough for this thread, the result has been that I've been tending to do the functional equivalent of pulling the quilt over my head under my desk, both online and offline -- too many things to juggle and chase and cope with.

In fact, I strongly suspect that it's possible to track the level of stress in my life[0] by the frequency of posts to makinglight ... but I'll skip making graphs tonight :)

Hopefully life's been being substantially more sane to you :)

[0] ... and I suspect that I'm not the only one, although I also suspect that the causes of posting (in)frequency vary pretty notably by person.

#41 ::: Doug K ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2010, 11:18 PM:

"Something in me longs for a place I feel at home"
but this world is not our home.. in the original Christian reading this defers happiness to another world, but I hope to understand it differently.

My weblog is titled 'no longer at ease', from the TS Eliot,
"no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,
With an alien people clutching their gods.
I should be glad of another death."
An old friend, also an expat of many years standing, asked if I'd ever been at ease: not once since coming to consciousness, in fact. Part of this is an accident of birth, English-speaking South Africans were a minority within the ruling minority, implicated in its evil, yet neither English nor African; but part of it is simply inborn I believe.

"They said, This is what’s happening in my life. They said, Here is how I feel about it. Nobody wrote back saying, The trouble with you is… or suggesting What you should do…"
the Marriage Encounter weekend teaches exactly this technique - describe your feeling to each other on some topic every day - not what you think or what you should do, just the way you feel about it. The other thing I remember vividly from that weekend is "don't try to be right, try to be kind". Words to live by, if I can.

Lila, "a lot of clean clothes and dishes that got dirty again" is about as much I expect to leave my children.. still it's not nothing.

abi, thank you, our hosts, and everyone here, for one place I would not feel so all alone..

#42 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2010, 11:24 PM:

John Mark Ockerbloom @ 38: Some campus Christian groups have been rather cult-like, and in fact there was a study done in the 1980s that noted a strong pressure both in one of the popular campus Christian movements, and in various other cult-like groups, to conform to a standard personality type.

Interesting reading! Thank you for the link. One thing I've noticed--and this is purely anecdotal, so I have no idea how it applies in general--is that the smaller the group*, the more likely it seems to be that they'll apply that kind of pressure. When I was in a large explicitly Christian community, there was a lot of tolerance for different approaches, commitment levels, and so forth, if within a certain expected range; when I went to college and it was a small group surrounded by a majority of students perceived to be "secular" there was a lot more emphasis on fitting a very narrow norm of what a Good Christian should be. In general, I found the missionary community more relaxed about differences than any of the youth groups I went to in the US, which still strikes me as odd.

By cult-like behavior, I mean both the personality enforcement ("Good Christians want to make lots of friends!"), and a few other things. Different standards for leaders and followers ("We're switching meetings from Tuesdays to Wednesdays, because this leader has a schedule conflict. If you were a good Christian, you'd drop your conflicting Wednesday event to make it to meetings."), a distinctly unintellectual approach to theoretically intellectual events ("Tonight's Bible study is going to be an open discussion about this parable--yes, of course there's only one right way to read it!"), factionalizing ("Well, yes, they call themselves Christians, but you can tell they really aren't real Christians because they think drinking's okay, and they won't go to our meetings."), and attempts to separate people from their support group ("I don't think those people are a good influence on you. If they're not even going to listen when you witness to them, maybe you shouldn't be spending time with them anymore.").

My high school Bible teacher gave us all a checklist senior year, for warning signs of cults. After the schedule conflict announcement, and how it was presented, I pulled out the list, checked off a few items--less than half, but more than two or three--and ditched that group. I still think it was a pity that the only Christian group on campus was so...dysfunctional. The local chapter of Hillel didn't seem to have half so many problems.

* And by "smaller" I do mean relatively speaking, rather than numbers. I think it has more to do with the perception of being surrounded by a large and neutral-to-hostile group than it does with "is it a dozen people or a thousand." But again, anecdotal evidence.

#43 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2010, 11:50 PM:

xeger, 40: Well, I got laid off two years into my fabulous job, and my cat's got terminal cancer. But I'm enjoying my "sabbatical" and she's eating again, so things aren't too horrible at the moment. And, just to keep this on topic, my invisible Internet friends have been the rock of Gibraltar in my time of need.

#44 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2010, 11:58 PM:

xeger... No plan to be flying by the Bay Area the week before Christmas?

#45 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2010, 12:20 AM:

TexAnne @ 43 ...
Well, I got laid off two years into my fabulous job, and my cat's got terminal cancer. But I'm enjoying my "sabbatical" and she's eating again, so things aren't too horrible at the moment. And, just to keep this on topic, my invisible Internet friends have been the rock of Gibraltar in my time of need.

Yargh! I'm very glad that the "sabbatical" is in the good phase :)

I was reminded that I was facing the same thing with my cat a year-and-some-months ago, by somebody asking after her this past weekend. FWIW, kitten milk (possibly with a dash of chicken soup or tuna) is something that seems to be okay to unhappy feline stomachs -- but that's neither here nor there. Most importantly, my profound empathies, (virtual hugs), and a listening eye.

#46 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2010, 01:21 AM:

I'm trying to recall the name of the researcher/professor (a woman, I think, and maybe on the faculty at UC Berkeley?) who did a tremendous amount of research on what makes a cult, how to recognize one, etc. Seems to me she wrote a book... Does that ring any bells for anyone? Sorry to be so spacey: I don't even have enough hard info to google it. Help?

#47 ::: Per Chr. J. ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2010, 04:27 AM:

Lizzy L @ 46:

Could that have been Margaret Singer?

#48 ::: Gray Woodland ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2010, 06:50 AM:

And thank you for helping so much to create it.

I like my own company vastly well, though my very happiest days are spent in company. I've had splendid times at parties, and not seldom; but as a rule I prefer my physical gatherings small enough that the word 'circulate' makes no sense in them. As to longing - a fierce, tangible nostalgia for things that never need even have existed - let's just say that I get both Tolkien and Master Nathaniel Chanticleer entirely too well.

And this, since I don't know how to say the rest straight:

A Quiet Night Out

In the silence and the dark
Hearts of flint may strike a spark,
And the wind from off the whinny moor may blow a smacking kiss.
Will you try to draw them in -
Knives of stone and knives of whin?
Will you call the frost around your fire, and think she’ll call it bliss?
Though she loves the whirling world
As she lies about it curled,
Cuddled silvery in starlight - she’ll not love you by the barlight
But she’ll sing
Of the salt and wasted years she’s been warmed to mud and tears
By the friendships that she’s chilled
And the parties that she’s killed.
Will you walk her glinting ways awhile, and share a cup of quiet?
If a whisper in your ear
Bade you leave your barmy beer,
Would you get your coat, and learn how air and stone will hold their riot?
Minds of steel may love aright
In the hollow of the night.

#49 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2010, 07:09 AM:

Another introvert here, also currently overloaded to the point of not commenting often.

However, my cat is doing better, she's actually off the insulin due to apparent remission.

#50 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2010, 09:38 AM:

I'm another gregarious introvert; I do enjoy interacting with people but it tires me. By the end of the day I only want some peace and quiet. Sometimes I even get that.

I'm good at large groups, small groups, and one-on-one, but I'm also very comfortable with myself and could go for days without talking to people.

Due to recent changes in my life, I've taken to making sure I reach out physically as well as by phone and not just by email or online connection. That's one of the main reasons I do community service (car seat checks, CERT); I'm also starting to learn contra dancing, because I can at least dance (can't sing, can act a little).

Then I come home and sit on the couch with a cup of tea, a cat or two on my lap, and read a book or watch a movie.

#51 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2010, 10:18 AM:

Ginger #50:

Yeah, that's me, too. I enjoy conversation and social interaction, but I definitely need recharge time. At academic conferences, I'll often go to my room and set my cellphone timer for an hour or two, just to make myself spend a bit of time alone and recharge before I go back into the crowd of attendees.

#52 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2010, 11:08 AM:

@47: Yes! Thank you.

#53 ::: Theophylact ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2010, 12:02 PM:

Gregarious introvert.

Love talking with people, but dislike big parties where I know few people; standing around in a corner with the few I know doesn't feel like the point of the party, and trying to start conversations with strangers is uncomfortable. A dinner party with eight to twelve, half of whom I've never met before, is my kind of fun.

But mostly I'm happy (too happy, in fact) with sitting around reading or surfing the Net. It's great that I'm married to someone who makes sure that I get to go to concerts, plays and movies, all of which I love, but none of which I'd do on my own.

#54 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2010, 12:15 PM:

I live in a small, isolated community. I have never been able to fake interest in standard pop culture sufficiently to pass. I love the Web because no matter how obscure or nerdy my interests are, somebody out there is interested in them too. I had reconciled myself to having notebooks full of little worlds that not even my husband wanted to explore . . . and I don't have to!

#55 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2010, 12:29 PM:

It feels like confession time in here. What I'd also like to confess is that I've learnt to go into rooms full of strangers and start conversations with them, and even make myself something of a nuisance just in order to find interesting people to talk to. I try to take into account body language and such so that if we don't seem to get along I move on elsewhere.

What can I do though about enjoying telling people about some of the fun/ interesting things I do/ am interested in? I get the impression I've been running roughshod over other people and their interests, should I perhaps make it a more open conversation?

#56 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2010, 12:48 PM:

Guthrie, in situation where you start to think you're monopolizing the conversation, try asking the other person about their opinions on the same subject. If you prepare ahead of time with a few (3-4) questions that you can stick on the end of your conversational side, you can sometimes stop yourself and promote a dialogue. It happens to all of us, I expect, particularly with subjects that we feel strongly about -- our enthusiasm carries us away.

#58 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2010, 03:59 PM:

The one course I regretted missing when at the UW was a summer session on cults taught by Rodney Stark. (He's now at Baylor, and has changed from being some sort of agnostic to mildly Christian and more sympathetic to intelligent design than I’d like.) He testified at Vatican II as an undergrad because of his work on sociology and religion and had done a lot of pioneering work on cults in the 60’s. (I still remember when we reached the cults section of the textbook he explained that no, he wasn't ten feet tall as the authors seemed to think, and later, on the Monday after Jonestown, he walked in, slumped on the rostrum, and began "For those of us unfortunate to have specialized in certain areas of Sociology this has been a hell of a weekend” followed by what he thought had happened and why and which proved scarily accurate when NPR broadcast the tapes made at the compound.)

He’s written some on the uses of social networking to bring people into cults that makes good sense, and I wish I’d been able to get into the full class. As it is, I just remember odd comments, such as if you’re with a group that starts disparaging any other people or groups you’re with and also pushes carbs instead of protein head for the door fast--somehow carb loading made people more receptive, but I don’t remember the study details.

#59 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2010, 05:11 PM:

I'm a huge extrovert. Most of my friends are introverts. I've learned to respect their need for alone time and not take it personally.

Even I get "peopled-out" sometimes. I just need to rest and reset. But in general being around people energizes me, and being alone drains me. Fortunately, the internet is "with people" enough (much of the time) for me, and it's "alone" enough for a lot of introverts!

#60 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2010, 05:22 PM:

Bruce, #58: carb loading made people more receptive (to cultist dogma)

Whoa. That just clicked a whole bunch of relays in my brain. Think about the way current nutritional dogma pushes carbs at the expense of proteins. Think about the Inherited Obligation family model, with its emphasis on hierarchial structure and obedience to Authority, no matter who the Authority is. Think about the people who swallow whole anything right-wing pundits say, no matter how implausible or whether or not it contradicts what they said last week. Is the Standard American Diet partially to blame for the explosion of the Batshit Crazy in our culture?

#61 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2010, 05:29 PM:

You feel so lost, so cut off, so alone, only you're not. See, in all our searching, the only thing we've found that makes the emptiness bearable, is each other.

- Contact

#62 ::: Thena ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2010, 05:49 PM:


Lee, my inner nutbar conspiracy theorist thinks you're onto something.

I think I need to go eat some bread and stare glaze-eyed at the television now.

#63 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2010, 05:50 PM:

Theophylact @ 53: Me too. Except I married someone more introverted than I am. Our idea of a companionable evening is each sitting reading/at the computer, sometimes even in the same room! Luckily we live near some old friends - otherwise we'd have no social life at all.

Mostly, that's fine, but...

Making Light gives me the opportunity for conversation which I lack, otherwise - I work from home a lot and saying "hello" to a dog walker while out on my run can be as near as I get to a conversation with another human* from when my husband goes out to work to when he returns.

*I do have cat company and conversation.

#64 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2010, 06:16 PM:

Ginger #56 - thanks, thats a good idea.

To think I used to be so shy and unforthcoming. It is possible to change.

#65 ::: Lexica ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2010, 06:24 PM:

Lee @ 60 and Thena @ 62 — is it really accurate to say that most Americans don't eat enough protein? (Is it even possible to say that "most Americans do (or don't) eat enough [x]", I wonder?) My unscientific, confirmation-biased sense is that there are a lot of people doing the low-carb thing. And according to the American Heart Association, "Most Americans already eat more protein than their bodies need."

#66 ::: Thena ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2010, 06:49 PM:

Lexica @65 -

Not so much that we (USians) are protein-deficient, so much as that of the excess that's in our diets, a lot of it is processed carbohydrates - starches and simple sugars, rather than whole grains and roughage. YMMV, people have different metabolisms, but I subjectively recognize the effect of sugar/starch consumption on my own metabolism. Too much sugar all at once makes me jittery, but frequent small amounts are soothing, even stupefying...

(Why yes, I have been known to eat the entire package of Oreos after an emotional upset. Why do you ask?)

#67 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2010, 06:49 PM:

Carbs and protein: I've been told in a cult-discussing-context that diets very low in protein, which I highly doubt very many Americans eat, make people more passive and high protein diets make them more aggressive. I don't think I got a citation on that.

Quick google hunt gives me statements on the topic, but no actual proof.

#68 ::: Ingrid ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2010, 07:22 PM:

On the subject of being prone to longing...

I'm a sensitive extrovert. I love people and crowds and strangers, and friends, but I also need occasional alone-time to recharge. I do not *enjoy* my alone-time, precisely, but it's like eating vegetables and exercising. You find the good in it, and get through it.

I am not fortunate enough to have someone beloved. I don't know what that's like. Sometimes I think I'm greedy for personal contact, because I lack someone to be close to. Other times I think I need my alone-time too hard to be able to compensate for someone else being around in those quiet spaces.

I understand longing - especially intense longing. I'm grateful for it because it makes me a better fiction writer, and a better analyst of other people's fiction (and non-fiction). At this point, I don't know who I'd be without it.

Thank you, Making Light, for creating a community where I can share these thoughts.

#69 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2010, 01:43 AM:

I'm probably best classed as a gregarious introvert myself.

I ended up on a remote team last year for a while, and it fried me. I fester when I'm alone for too long. I get my professional energy, my Milesian forward momentum, off of interpersonal contact. And I enjoy parties, but prefer ones that are small enough for good conversation.

But then, suddenly, a fuse blows and I become overstimulated. My skin itches, I get cranky, and it all becomes too much. I have to go off and be alone for a while. Reading a book seems to be the fastest way to reset my switch.

The internet seems to trickle-feed me interactions at a rate that doesn't overwhelm me. I have found, of late, that it does slowly undermine my energy levels; one can overflow from a seep as well as a fountain. I'm working on managing that.

#70 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2010, 02:11 AM:

Mary Aileen, #37, I had a scheduled MRI last night and the clerk was muttering about people eating over the keyboard!

Sandy B., #67, I have a diet with very low protein, but that's because my kidneys are falling apart.

#71 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2010, 08:45 AM:

Lee @60, Thena @62 --

Is it a coincidence that Sarah Palin was pushing cookies on schoolkids (and their parents)? I think not! ::removes tongue from cheek::

#72 ::: Lin D ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2010, 11:07 PM:

I need alone time, where I can process what's going on in my head. It's not intuitive or immediate for me. Sometimes it will take days for my nonconscious mind to process something and feed it back the the conscious me. It took me a very long time to realize alone time is not something I simply want, but something I need to survive. I love conventions, parties at conventions with people of like minds (mundane parties seem to be groups of people shouting at each other over music to which no one is dancing). I gain energy from being with people. And yet, when I need to be alone, I need to be absolutely alone. Some people don't get this *at* *all*.

Some years back, a friend suggested I might be a "highly sensitive person." A lot of the symptoms (too tired to think of a better word) some people here seem to have, seem to fall in to that category. Realizing I am an HSP has made it easier to deal with my need to be alone, even tho I seem to be an extrovert. It has made my life easier by realizing, no, I'm not nuts. They (whomever "they" happen to be at any particular moment) really don't understand me. And it's ok. I don't fight to get every single person to understand me any more. I wish they would, but I know they won't. I don't like it, but I accept it. And most importantly, stop bashing my head against the wall about it.

jacque @57
I'm not sure if I should thank you or not. That story is going to haunt me for a very long time.

#73 ::: janra ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2010, 01:40 AM:

Lin D: I'd say characteristics, not symptoms.

Fairly interesting site. It's a whole new axis orthogonal to the introvert/extravert thing.

I just went over the self test (and the "test your kid" - I didn't complain about some of those items, but I remember noticing them) and it looks like I'm kind of borderline. Definitely high on the easily overwhelmed side of things, at least in crowds. I have a highly extraverted friend who described a street party with positively glowing enthusiasm as "packed - shoulder to shoulder and back to belly", which would be my idea of hellish, getmeoutofhereNOW freakout territory.

A lot of them are context-dependant for me, for example *who* is watching me do something - sometimes it's fine, sometimes I go to pieces. And I'm constantly frustrated by people who don't notice and retain things from the environment around them, and I'm frequently told I have good eyes (to which I reply: no, I have a good prescription). On the plus side, my colleagues have noticed that I actually see things, so that was a mark in my favour on my performance review :-)

#74 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2010, 02:16 AM:

I like the term "gregarious introvert". Those of you who have met me in person may well laugh at the suggestion that I might be an introvert -- but you wouldn't laugh if you'd known me in high school. Over time, I've learned to live much more comfortably in my E than I used to, but I still have the one standard marker for an I: being around large groups of people for extended periods of time drains me, and I need alone time to recharge. The draining process isn't nearly so severe with people I think of as friends, but (for example) being "on" all day at a crafts show, dealing with a lot of strangers, pretty well wipes me out.

Mary Aileen, you will be amused. After reading #22, I was thinking that I couldn't recall ever having spilled a drink on my computer or keyboard. (Crumbs, yes.) Last night while I was working on something, my mouse slipped off the edge of the desk and out of my hand, and as it fell its cord knocked over my iced-tea glass. Some of the tea did splash into the keyboard, but it doesn't seem to be any the worse for wear. The timing did rather give me pause. :-)

#75 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2010, 05:56 AM:

AIUI, the psychologist's definition of introvert vs extrovert is simply who gets drained vs. recharged by social interactions. Being able to socialize until you run out of steam, in no way invalidates someone as an introvert.

#76 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2010, 08:08 AM:

Lee @ 74... Those of you who have met me in person may well laugh at the suggestion that I might be an introvert

Those of you who have met me in person may well laugh at the suggestion that I might be an extrovert.

#77 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2010, 09:11 AM:

...and those of you who have met me in person might well laugh.


#78 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2010, 10:04 AM:

Ginger @ 77... Wise gal, eh?

#79 ::: Mark ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2010, 12:43 PM:

Marilee @ 70, that's interesting, as I was told I needed high quality proteins and it would be a good idea to start eating meat again. (My daughter is a vegetarian, which effectively cut meat out of my diet but for rare occasions.) Maybe because you're not at end stage yet?

#80 ::: Lexica ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2010, 01:55 PM:

I like "gregarious introvert" too. Having worked through much of the social anxiety that contributed to me playing wallflower in my youth, I'm now at a point where I enjoy chatting with friendly strangers I meet. Doesn't change the fact that I desperately, desperately need time alone or I just can't function.

"Depressed optimist" is another applicable term. It wasn't until I was in my thirties that I started to realize that when my depression doesn't have me in its grip, I really do have a fundamental belief that everything will work out, somehow, even if we don't know what that will look like.

And I'd say "Yay! More HSPs! Let's all get together for a group hug and discuss it!" except, well... so. Um. Yay, more HSPs. Let's have a pleasant conversation about it at low volume, conducted online so we can step away when we get overwhelmed.


#81 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2010, 06:59 PM:

Mark, #79, I'm in stage 4 the last two batches of labs, but haven't been in stage 5 since 1990. I'm spilling too much protein, which is why I'm supposed to have at most 50gr protein/day and everybody needs at least 50gr/day to remake their body. It's hard to get the exact amount, but up or down a gram isn't that bad.

#82 ::: micah ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2010, 05:35 PM:

I'm a very serious introvert, right here. Talking to people, even without physical presence, is very draining for me.

I rarely get through a day around people without being exhausted, unless there's a lot of physical activity involved. For some reason, being around people while working leaves me feeling fine, but just being around people while eating/talking/studying kicks my ass.

On a related note, I found the book The Introvert Advantage very interesting, and others might as well.

#83 ::: David DeLaney ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2011, 12:44 AM:

Still catching up slowly, here. "Introvert" is a fairly good description of me; though I can socialize, I always have an undercurrent of "there's this other stuff I want to be doing, back home" in my head.

But mainly I'm adding this months-late post to drop a word into the thread that didn't get into it originally: "querencia". It's Spanish, and reading this thread threw me straight back to one of those end-of-high-school college-prep tests, I want to say the SAT but I'm not sure any more, where it was the subject of a "write an essay on this concept" question. And part of what I wrote was that it was a concept and word I'd been looking for, at the time, all my life...


#84 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2011, 04:38 PM:


#85 ::: vee ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2011, 12:42 PM:

Because even if I don't say much, I can help in other, little ways...

#86 ::: vee ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2011, 12:43 PM:

Drat. Now I just look silly.

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