Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Introverts in the Library. Extroverts in the Bedroom.

But I've been thinking a lot about introverts and extroverts lately. And so I'm reading Quiet by Susan Cain. And it's giving me lots to ponder. Because I'm an ambivert, so I do ponder sometimes. I was doing it earlier today. I may be doing it now. P O N D E R.


But am I an ambivert? Is that even a quantifiable thing? Let me take a quick check. [10 minutes later] Your Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator is: INTP, the “Engineer.”

-Introversion: 60%
-iNtutitive: 65%
-Thinking: 65%
-Perceiving: 65%

Oh, okay.

I don't think I'm strictly an introvert, even though I work in a library which is where I would guess you'd find them, but I shun social settings, especially social networks. But I enjoy public speaking and I'm a decent performer.

But I don't enjoy speaking until I've done my research. Or thought of a good fart joke.
Of the two groups, I prefer introverts because I believe this: when two people join together, they inevitably look to fuck with someone else. I think George Carlin said that. Or Gandhi.

I say that librarians are introverts because it seems that introverts would be attracted to that environment. But if you present programs twice a day to groups and you represent your library on Facebook, etc., then don't get you underpants in a bunch because even if you do those things, you probably prefer to do them alone.

No. 6, played by Patrick McGoohan in The Prisoner, is a man with a secret. He was a spy who quit his job and someone wants to know why. Almost every episode is an exercise of will between the need for No. 2 to learn his secret and No. 6's desire to keep it. I just started watching this to see how it supports this introvert/extrovert theory and I feel vindicated each time 6 gets angered by everyone spying on him. If you've ever seen the show, you'll notice that when he suspects he's being watched (which is all the time), he modifies his behavior to trick the observers. So just as we can't really know what one is thinking when he sits quietly by himself, No. 6 shows us that we can't know someone's true nature even when he participates in the group.

The internet, or as we should call it, "the real world," requires that we share and be a part of a group. You can't just lurk in Facebook and you can't listen to a song on Spotify without being a member. Everywhere wants everyone for a member.

We need to remember that libraries are an essential refuge for introverts. Although that idea has been under attack for years by librarians who want us all in a group hug. But the entire nature of reading is internal. You may shout at the screen in a movie theater, "don't go in there," but no one shouts that at their book. But I'll concede that religious books inspire social reading because we have a guy who can't read his book without bringing some heavily underlined and annotated lines to our attention while we're trying to work: "but it says, one cannot worship the false god and be saved, but look at all these people worshipping their computers!" Yep, we keep an eye on him.

But when you begin converting all of your individual study carrels and study rooms into collaborative maker-spacers, don't be surprised when I tweet about what a fucked-up decision that was.

And that's the current problem with libraries. Someone it trying to convert us all, library users and library workers, from introverts into extroverts. From the job listings seeking DYNAMIC, UPBEAT, EXCITED candidates to the gamer librarians who expect us to move someplace else when the Wii is way too loud, libraries are ignoring a large percentage of their users, and their employees, who just want some QUIET.

What you don't understand is that the library is the only tiny piece of peace in our noisy cities. You can't look at the library and say, okay, this part is community commons area and this tiny part is for quiet study. Because the entire building was designed as a refuge. You shouldn't be allowed to bring the noisy back inside. So no food processors or Zumba classes or drill presses.

So I'm declaring an INDEPENDENCE DAY. For independent study and independent research. For independent thoughts that I keep to myself.

Yes, you can be dynamic. But go be dynamic way over there and quit crapping all over my quiet. Because you really don't want to force me to extrovert myself and have all that scary shit that I've been keeping in my head spill out. I'm not an introvert to protect myself from you; I'm one to save you from me.