Let’s just pretend for a moment that I’m an introvert instead of a person who just don’t like stupid people. I can relate with some of the things Susan Cain says in her talk: I really feel the pressure to be in groups, and socialize, and connect and share with others as much as possible.
I don’t like all her talk, and I think she simplifies some things, for example I don’t believe that something like “freedom from the distortion of group dynamics” exists, but I like her praise of solitude:
”[…] we have known for centuries about the transcendent power of solitude, it’s only recently that we’ve strangely begun tof orget it.”
[…] a framework for capturing the magnitude and scope of gender-based disparities and tracking their progress. The Index benchmarks national gender gaps on economic, political, education and health-based criteria, and provides country rankings that allow for effective comparisons across regions and income groups, and over time. The rankings are designed to create greater awareness among a global audience of the challenges posed by gender gaps and the opportunities created by reducing them.
The best 20?
Compared to the last year, the top 10 nations remain in the same position (except for Philippines and Lesotho that switched position). United States was 19°, United Kingdom was 15° and Germany was 13°. Italy, where I live, is 74° this year, the same of last year (at least we are not worse).
Thinking means concentrating on one thing long enough to develop an idea about it. Not learning other people’s ideas, or memorizing a body of information, however much those may sometimes be useful. Developing your own ideas. In short, thinking for yourself. You simply cannot do that in bursts of 20 seconds at a time, constantly interrupted by Facebook messages or Twitter tweets, or fiddling with your iPod, or watching something on YouTube. […]
It seems to me that Facebook and Twitter and YouTube—and just so you don’t think this is a generational thing, TV and radio and magazines and even newspapers, too—are all ultimately just an elaborate excuse to run away from yourself. To avoid the difficult and troubling questions that being human throws in your way. Am I doing the right thing with my life? Do I believe the things I was taught as a child? What do the words I live by—words like duty, honor, and country—really mean? Am I happy? […]
[…] Here’s the other problem with Facebook and Twitter and even The New York Times. When you expose yourself to those things, especially in the constant way that people do now—older people as well as younger people—you are continuously bombarding yourself with a stream of other people’s thoughts. You are marinating yourself in the conventional wisdom. In other people’s reality: for others, not for yourself. You are creating a cacophony in which it is impossible to hear your own voice, whether it’s yourself you’re thinking about or anything else. […]
So why is reading books any better than reading tweets or wall posts? Well, sometimes it isn’t. Sometimes, you need to put down your book, if only to think about what you’re reading, what you think about what you’re reading. But a book has two advantages over a tweet. First, the person who wrote it thought about it a lot more carefully. The book is the result of his solitude, his attempt to think for himself.
Second, most books are old. This is not a disadvantage: this is precisely what makes them valuable. They stand against the conventional wisdom of today simply because they’re not from today. Even if they merely reflect the conventional wisdom of their own day, they say something different from what you hear all the time. But the great books, the ones you find on a syllabus, the ones people have continued to read, don’t reflect the conventional wisdom of their day. They say things that have the permanent power to disrupt our habits of thought. They were revolutionary in their own time, and they are still revolutionary today. […]
So solitude can mean introspection, it can mean the concentration of focused work, and it can mean sustained reading. All of these help you to know yourself better. But there’s one more thing I’m going to include as a form of solitude, and it will seem counterintuitive: friendship. Of course friendship is the opposite of solitude; it means being with other people. But I’m talking about one kind of friendship in particular, the deep friendship of intimate conversation. Long, uninterrupted talk with one other person. Not Skyping with three people and texting with two others at the same time while you hang out in a friend’s room listening to music and studying. […]
Introspection means talking to yourself, and one of the best ways of talking to yourself is by talking to another person. One other person you can trust, one other person to whom you can unfold your soul. One other person you feel safe enough with to allow you to acknowledge things—to acknowledge things to yourself—that you otherwise can’t. Doubts you aren’t supposed to have, questions you aren’t supposed to ask. Feelings or opinions that would get you laughed at by the group or reprimanded by the authorities.
This is what we call thinking out loud, discovering what you believe in the course of articulating it. But it takes just as much time and just as much patience as solitude in the strict sense. And our new electronic world has disrupted it just as violently. Instead of having one or two true friends that we can sit and talk to for three hours at a time, we have 968 “friends” that we never actually talk to; instead we just bounce one-line messages off them a hundred times a day. This is not friendship, this is distraction. […]
Richard “Dick” Edwards plants dynamite in the mechanical shark prop used in filming the classic movie Jaws. During his service in the U.S. Navy during World War II and the Korean War, Edwards became an expert in explosives. Early in his early career at WHOI, he applied his knowledge of explosives to the work of seismic researchers, though Navy officials continued to call on his expertise for many years. The famous silver screen shark explosion was added to Edwards’ resume because filmmakers working on nearby Martha’s Vineyard needed an explosives expert with a blasting permit to set up their climactic scene. (Photo by Cliff Winget, via Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)
“Soon after A Wizard of Earthsea came out in England it received a review in a science-fiction periodical which took the book to task for being “consolatory” and “reassuring”. Well, fair enough, I thought, if the consolation is false, if the reassurance is unwarranted; but are consolation and reassurance inherently false, unwarranted - foolish, soft, silly, childish - sentimental? Are we writers only to threaten, terrify, and depress our readers with our ruthless honesty: have we not as good a right to offer them whatever comfort we’ve come by honestly? I wrote the reviewer and told him what I thought, and that I thought I had Tolkien to back me up. He wrote back nicely enough saying that of course he hadn’t been thinking of the book as being written for children. Apparently it is permissible to reassure or console children, but not adults. Such an attitude seems to me to be based on a strange notion that the Common Reader is so happy, so foolishly confident, so stupidly trustful, that the Common Writer’s whole duty is to convince him that life is hard and full of grief and that there is no consolation. Most adults I know already know that life is hard and full of grief; and they look for both confirmation of this knowledge, and consolation for it, in art.”