That February was the virus’s American debut is fitting, because many introverts were still recovering from the trauma of the end-of-year holidays...We are the people...who preferred to eat alone at corner tables in restaurants with a book propped up on the salt shaker, ignoring the occasional puzzled or pitying glances from the extroverts at the bar. Replace the restaurant corner table with a tub of takeout, eaten over the sink standing up, and you can see how everyone else’s new normal conforms to our old normal. I have never known an introvert who washed his or her hands fewer than a dozen times a day; it’s our version of calisthenics. Hugs, long a source of terror for us, are now generally understood to be as violent and unwelcome as decapitation. The elbow bump is a social greeting most introverts can live with, far superior anyway to the viral autobahn of the handshake. A brief, awkward wave at six paces would be best of all. Indeed, for a true introvert, any encounter closer than six feet constitutes foreplay.
Only recently has introversion been deemed a social force, thanks to the writer Susan Cain. She became an unofficial spokesperson, a very soft-spoken spokesperson, when she published Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking a few years ago...Her book became a huge best seller with the aid of the internet, which allowed its target audience to buy as many copies as they wished without having to go to the store...Her theme was perhaps novel to some people, but not to us: This is the extroverts’ world; the introverts just live in it...If Cain’s book, readable, clever, and popular as it is, was intended as a revolutionary manifesto, it largely failed. It is very difficult to coordinate an uprising of people who would rather not leave the house. Now, though, the virus has done what a revolution never could: The social order has been upended, and extroverts find themselves living in the introverts’ world.
Consider: As Cain points out, the world’s most introverted country, Finland, is also the world’s happiest.
How introverted are the Finns? Here’s how: You can tell a Finn likes you if he’s looking at your shoes instead of his own.
That’s a joke the Finns tell on themselves! Just because people are introverted doesn’t mean we can’t have a little fun. We just don’t want to overdo it, is all.