Aug. 31st, 2013

pktechgirlbackup: (pktechgirl)
I am tired of hearing "alone time" and "social time" referred to as distinct, fungible buckets. There are lots of different kinds of alone time and people time and they cost and give different things. A teacher friend has described teaching as rather lonely because even though you're surrounded by people all day, they're children, and the energy flow is almost unidirectional. I don't play MMOs because they invoke the worst parts of dealing with people- having to negotiate with them to get a thing I want- without making me feel connected.

There are kinds of social activity that I need other social activity to recover from. Most noticeably when I'm around my parents for significant lengths of time, I start reaching out electronically. My first choice is chatting with good friends, followed by posting to facebook and livejournal, but when desperate I'll resort just to reading blogs and commenting on them. If you think of all social interactions as energy exchanges: I can't participate in the kind of exchanges that make me feel like me with my parents. It's not even a matter of hiding who I am, it's that they are incapable of seeing it and therefore can't react proportionally. Participating in exchanges with my friends makes me feel more whole.

Incidentally, I'll do the same thing when pushed into the introvert wall and forced to socialize (such as at work). Work is not such a violation of my sense of self as talking with my parents, but I am more actively suppressing certain aspects. As is appropriate for a professional situation and is totally fine as long as I have the cope, but when I'm depleted than g-d damnit, someone is going to hear the funny innuendo about what my boss just said.

Alone time that I've planned or deliberately turned down an invitation for is scored differently than incidental alone time. It feels worse, because everyone is hanging out without me/I'm a loser for wanting to stay in/I'm missing an opportunity I may never get again/I genuinely wanted to do that fun thing. But if I'm able to fight through that, it's also more restorative. There's is more flow when there is an event I have separated from than when I am merely adrift.

So if you assume everyone has some equilibrium they wish to maintain, and no one can balance those perfectly immediate, extroverts whose ballast or rebalancer tends to fall under the broad category of "social time", and introverts are those whose ballast or rebalancer falls under "alone time".


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