No, not every introvert loves a lockdown

Published April 2, 2020

Who doesn't love a good meme?

The entire world has flipped upside down over the last month but one thing is unchanged: the internet remains awash in memes. Even before the COVID-19 crisis there was an increased focus on introverts, but now that we're subject to stay-at-home orders the memes are everywhere:

I'm certainly not offended by the memes, we all need some humor amidst this slow descent into catastrophe. But I'm seeing quite a few online articles/comments which suggest introverts are suddenly basking in paradise. I feel compelled to pump the brakes on this assumption before it becomes so saturated that people actually start to believe it.

A quick reminder on what introversion is/isn't

There's a widespread misconception that introversion and shyness are synonymous — or worse, that all introverts are misanthropes. A Venn diagram would reveal some overlap between these traits but it's wrong to conflate them. The key distinction between introverts and extroverts is simply the way social interaction affects our energy levels. Extroverts gain, introverts drain.

It turns out I actually like to meet people and learn about them. SURPRISE!

We all feel the losses in a lockdown

One trait that can often be ascribed to introverts: we tend to live inside our head. Many are perfectly content to delve into books or creative projects, so when a quarantine comes along it doesn't really disrupt the schedule. But here's the other side of that sword: "live inside our head" is a roundabout way of saying we tend to dwell. In the context of the COVID-19 crisis, dwelling isn't really a perk.

I live fairly close to Kirkland, Washington. When it became a coronavirus epicenter in early March I was nervous to say the least. I watched international news to better understand what this "Wuhan thing" was all about, and that's when unease ballooned into full-on anxiety. As of April 2 we're still in the very early stages of an unimaginable global tragedy.

Every day I monitor where the number of confirmed cases and deaths just passed 1,000,000 and 50,000 respectively. Every few minutes the numbers jump significantly and every time I feel it in the pit of my stomach. Every number is a family member lost, a journey cut tragically short, a victim of something we can't even see.

The silence and the gray

Like everyone else I'm leaning on routine to maintain a sense of normalcy. But even when I'm walking my dog I can't escape the stark reminders... playgrounds roped off, parks locked up, silence and sorrow hanging in the air. And I get it. Nobody with an ounce of empathy would celebrate the circumstances we're in.

So, yes, I'm an introvert in the sense that "small talk" exhausts me and my arm must be twisted before I'll jump into social situations. But I also feel that we're all interconnected and I miss the heartbeat of everyday life just outside my door. I want it back.