It was, of course, inevitable. After book after book explaining the importance of being forward, of aggressively networking and noisily self-promoting ourselves, the correction has finally arrived. And it comes in the shape of a stimulating new book by Susan Cain entitled Quiet: The Power of Introverts. So enough with the extroverted ideologues of self-promotion like Gary V, Chris Brogan and Seth Godin. It’s Susan Cain time now. Quiet. The hour of the introvert has finally arrived.
“We need to restore solitude,” Cain told me yesterday when she came into our New York City studio. That’s what has been lost in what she calls our “culture of personality”. There’s a bias in our culture against introverts, she told me, and it’s playing out in schools and workplaces where everyone is expected to sit and work together. This enforced collectivism, she explained, in which nobody has a room of their own any longer, is creating a socialized, “groupthink” culture in which we are no longer thinking for ourselves.
So where does the Internet fit into all this? Cain told me that the Internet is both the problem and the solution to the groupthink culture of contemporary life. Online, she says, we are all “alone together”. And while that is a problem for critics like Sherry Turkle, being alone together on the Internet is, for Susan Cain, a solution to the noisy collectivism of the offline world. Bur rather than Facebook or Twitter, Cain seems to be relying on intimate networks of friends like Path to rebuild the primacy of quiet in our lives.
So is Cain right – do we need to be saved by the power of introverts?
Before she became a writer, Susan practiced corporate law for seven years, representing clients like JP Morgan and General Electric, and then worked as a negotiations consultant, training all kinds of people, from hedge fund managers to TV producers to college students negotiating their first salaries. Her clients have included Merrill Lynch, Shearman & Sterling, One Hundred Women in Hedge Funds, and many more. She went to Princeton University and Harvard Law School. Her first book is “QUIET: The...