alone in cave

Are we losing society as we hide in caves? Is Covid making us introversive? Is it our destiny to be avoidants of people and lovers of loneliness?

They say that humans are social animals and spend their time building relationships. But is that true? As a regular attendee to various lectures, conferences, and author events, I can tell you, with first-hand experience, that most authors are distant, uncommunicative, and … well, let’s use the word from the beginning … bookish. You know what I mean. Owlish.

owlish

Yes, of course, there are some authors who have a twinkle in their eyes and light up the entire room as they glitter around it, but these guys are few and far between in the world of “authorship”. Believe me! I have often mustered the courage to speak to a stranger at these events, knowing we both have something in common (we are both there to interact with other authors) and have had some rather unpleasant responses, including (but not limited to) impassive body-language, severe and downright rude rejections, and (in one memorable interaction) a guy who looked me up and down like I had just beamed-in from space, then coughed into my face, before he walked off without a word, shaking his head and punching the air with his fists.

So don’t tell me that humans are social animals … I’ll tell you, emphatically, they are not. And that’s just the authors (who, to be frank, need to interact & socialize at these events if they ever want to sell their wares, you moody old goat, just saying) but what about readers? Everybody knows that bookists and bibliophiles are the most quintessentially antisocial animals on the planet. They even have special t-shirts and mugs printed-up showing-off how neurotically maladjusted they like to be! Book readers are proud of their unapproachable levels of stand-offishness!

helping introverts avoid  conversation

But being an introvert isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Introverts get energized by time alone… Introverts are good listeners. Introverts form opinions, but don’t throw them at other people to get attention. Introverts aren’t easily distracted (by trash). Introverts can focus. Introverts are modest. Successful people don’t have to be popular people! Introverts don’t need validation. Introverts are not afraid of rejection. Introverts don’t worry about not being interesting enough. Introverts are not afraid of social pressure. Introverts interact with their own brain and don’t need to bounce off others to understand themselves.

Go away

But, if you fear we are harming society as we hide in caves until the cataclysm passes, here are six little things we can do that will make us more communicative…

1: Use people’s names: when chatting posting, or replying on social media, try to use the names of your “friends.” It’s just a small thing, but it makes a big difference in how they (and others) see you.

cant you see I'm reading?

2: Offer to moderate — it doesn’t have to be semi-official or formal. Just suggest that maybe someone is new and maybe we could all introduce ourselves. Say hello to the new guys and tell them a about yourself. Or, if you join a new group, ask existing members a few questions or hand out a few compliments

3: Tell trivial stories on your site or pagepeople love little home-style tales, so you must share them. Silly stories may seem inconsequential to you, but they will brighten other people’s days and also help make you “seem” spontaneous and credible to  others

4: Seek opinions — Once you’ve told others your piddling home-style story, ask if anyone else has had the same or similar experience. Ask if anyone else would like to share a silly / funny tidbit

happy we found each other

5: Activate friendships — You know your friends on social media have hobbies, but when did you ask about them? They would love to share and exchange, but you never once asked. If you (dare) ask them about their sport, hobby, obsession, or activity, you’ll see that others will join in as well. Soon, you will have a full-on discussion going

6: Join an introverts bookclub — where you don’t need to be goofy, cheeky, extroverted or even personable to enjoy membership. I run one here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/introvertishbookclub

My “Introvertish Book Club” is a place to enjoy books, reading and fellowship… but it is for contemplative people; therefore no introductions are required, no greetings / welcomes needed, no discussions anticipated, no book talk  necessary, no socializing expected. This hangout *could* be the place to catch up with friends, meet new people, or rub elbows with like-minded folks… but that’s not the point. The emphasis is on being a bookworm, enjoying privacy and, to be honest, celebrating seclusion!

Go here to join (easy) https://www.facebook.com/groups/introvertishbookclub

7: Do whatever makes you feel good about yourself (and don’t worry about what other folks think)

Let me know if you have other tips or suggestions. Tweet me @neilmach 

Words: @neilmach 2021 ©

Neil Mach is author of “So You Want to Write Fantasy?” and host of the Myth & Magic fantasy writer’s podcast.