A former colleague of mine listed 'extrovert' as one of his selling points on his CV. Unremarkable enough, you might think, but would anyone put 'introvert' on their CV? Similarly, one can easily find courses and self-help guides to make people more outgoing, but are there any self-help guides to make people more 'ingoing'? From what I can tell, lack of introspection is a rather more pervasive malady. But extroverts rule the world, and extroversion is universally seen as a positive character trait -- an attitude which annoys me no end. I want to present a different perspective here, which is to say, my own perspective -- which looks on extroversion as a kind of mental illness, and extroverts themselves as somewhat pitiable and undesirable lunatics, to be avoided by all right-thinking people.
There's something scary and pathetic about a life lived entirely, or even mostly, on the surface. I've often met people who, after a short period of acquaintance -- sometimes as short as a few seconds -- would launch into telling me the most intimate details and feelings, the kind of stuff I would only tell my closest friends. And I always think: if they're giving all this to me, what have they got left to give the people they're really close to? How can they show they're close to anybody? And the answer is: they can't. They don't get close to anybody.
None of the extroverts I know have what I consider worthwhile friendships. They do accumulate vast numbers of 'friends', but by introvert standards, these are fairly shallow, transient relationships. A common trait of extroverts is that they make no distinction between 'friend' and 'acquaintance'. I once knew a guy who thought calling anyone an 'acquaintance' would be a terrible insult. I told him no, acquaintances were just people I knew and possibly liked but who weren't close enough to be friends -- most people I knew, in other words. The guy didn't seem to understand, and the conversation that ensued revealed the horrifying truth that what he would consider a friend, I would only consider an acquaintance -- and that what I would consider a friend, for him there was no equivalent at all.
When it comes to things like intimacy and emotion I apply a simple economic relationship: scarcity equals value. And so praise, kind words, tears and confessions from an extrovert are all as worthless to me as so much confetti. It's impossible to put any value on something which is tossed out so carelessly and freely, at least any value higher than trash. Intimacy from an introvert is incalculably more precious. What an honour it is to be chosen as a recipient for an introvert's thoughts! How privileged you are that she is sharing them with you! To hear her innermost thoughts is to have something revealed to you which has never before been revealed; it's to have climbed an Andean peak to see a rare orchid in bloom; it's to be Carter at the door of Tutankhamun's tomb; it's to be Newton having just discovered gravity. Compared to one moment of intimacy from an introvert, all the outpourings of an extrovert are the cheapest of junk.
Whether they can control it or not, extroverts devalue their own emotions by nattering about them constantly. For an extrovert, emotions become the stuff of humdrum conversation, mouth-exercise to pass the time, like talking about the weather or the latest soap operas. It's a cheapening effect that shows a fear of anything resembling true emotion -- much as instant intimacy with all who care to hear shows a fear of anything resembling true intimacy.