October 6, 2012

Time and Introversion

Today's my decompression day. I have learned, over the years, how to be "on" - how to interact with people, get things done, appear (hopefully) professional and competent and even navigate political minefields, but I can't do it for extended periods of time without needing to periodically decompress or else I go into stress overload.

Decompression is a quiet day, possibly at a coffeeshop, focusing on writing or drawing or just catching up on the news. It's not a vacation - there's little travel involved (if I can possibly help it), I'm not going off to a museum or a movie or some event, because in general in all of those I have to deal with people, have to work to someone else's agenda, and always have to be conscious of budget and time, neither of which I have in abundance.

Perhaps that's what lies at the heart of introversion. The extrovert is VERY conscious, if by conscious you mean aware of the passing of time. Most extroverts that I know have their lives scheduled to an extreme, they get bored easily, and overall they are impatient - they can hear the ticking of the clock and hate "wasting time" or waiting. 

The introvert on the other hand is disconnected from time. She (just to keep pronouns clear) focuses on the task at hand, the book being read (or written), the creation of the drawing on the page, the encoded sky castle in her mind. Time ... jumps ... 8:15 ... 10:45 ... 3:15 already? 

The extrovert wants to know exactly how long a task will take, down to the minute if possible. The introvert will tell him that it will take as long as it takes, not a moment less. To the introvert, this is a reasonable statement ... to the extrovert it is an affront, because he cannot conceive that someone would not know going in exactly how long something will take to do, and therefore the introvert is being impudent.

We live in an extroverted world, with the corporation perhaps the ultimate extroverted edifice. In a corporation, the primary task is coordination - most meetings exist not to design but to review, to communicate to managers the information necessary to make a decision. In a dysfunctional corporation (which seems to be the norm) the process of actual design and creation are largely peripheral, and increasingly are done by external entities - freelancers, contractors, consultants - those that can disengage from the endless rounds of meetings and political posturing to actually get something done. 

Since the overwhelming bulk of creatives are introverts, this means that over time introverts get pushed farther and farther from the center of power and decision making. Yet the impact of this is that introverts get excluded from the ranks of power, or if they manage to push themselves into the fray, are most often overwhelmed (and consequently excluded) by their louder, more impulsive, more extroverted colleagues. This is probably why so many corporations seem to be so shallow - there are few deep thinkers there, few people actually taking the long perspective and working towards insuring that what is created will survive beyond the next quarter.

Over time, I think this may spell the ruin of corporate capitalism. Already, the introverts are withdrawing, finding their own kind, in many cases preparing for this event. Trying to find a culture that is more timeless, less fixated upon the clock and more upon the task at hand, one attuned to the natural rhythms of the world, not the vibrations of cesium atoms by a ruby laser. Trying, perhaps, to become human again.

No comments: