Springtime for Introverts: The world has caught up with us at last

Springtime for Introverts: The world has caught up with us at last, by Andrew Ferguson.

When newscasters tell Americans that we are entering a “strange new way of life” or a “new normal,” or moving into “unfamiliar territory,” I know they’re not talking to me. I and millions like me have been trying to self-isolate for years. We are the hopeful practitioners of antisocial distancing. …

All our lives, introverts have known there was something wrong with large parties. We just couldn’t quite put our finger on what it was, and even if we could, we would have probably kept it to ourselves. We now look prescient rather than merely neurotic.

Assuming, that is, people look at us at all. We usually go unnoticed by design. We are the people who spent the night of our senior prom working on an arts-and-crafts project, who whiled away weekends burrowed in the stacks at the college library, who later on preferred to eat alone at corner tables in restaurants with a book propped up on the salt shaker, ignoring the occasional puzzled or pitying glances from the extroverts at the bar. …

I have never known an introvert who washed his or her hands fewer than a dozen times a day; it’s our version of calisthenics. Hugs, long a source of terror for us, are now generally understood to be as violent and unwelcome as decapitation. The elbow bump is a social greeting most introverts can live with, far superior anyway to the viral autobahn of the handshake. A brief, awkward wave at six paces would be best of all. Indeed, for a true introvert, any encounter closer than six feet constitutes foreplay. …

The world’s most introverted country, Finland, is also the world’s happiest. How introverted are the Finns? Here’s how: You can tell a Finn likes you if he’s looking at your shoes instead of his own. That’s a joke the Finns tell on themselves! Just because people are introverted doesn’t mean we can’t have a little fun. We just don’t want to overdo it, is all.