I recently wrote an article for Interesting Thing of the Day about Proxemics, the study of how people manage the space around them. This has obvious resonance for introverts, who often find interactions with people at a polite distance to be draining, let alone if those people are in even closer range.
In the article I mention that different cultures seem to approach the issue of personal space in a variety of ways; one’s idea of “normal” and “comfortable” distances may be influenced by what a certain community values. Keeping one’s distance may seem cold or unfriendly in one instance, and polite and respectful in another (although individuals within each community have their own standards as well). Without drawing broad generalizations, I think understanding that others have different expectations around personal space can sometimes defuse frustration and annoyance.
That being said, it does raise the question of how introverts are shaped by their environment. Not being a neuroscientist, or scientist of any sort, I can’t comment on the universal prevalence of introverted individuals, nor how such individuals may adapt to circumstances that discourage typical introverted behavior. I’d be very curious to know if there are professed introverts out there who are nonetheless comfortable being in very close quarters with others (meaning strangers and acquaintances, not friends and loved ones of course).
On another note, the title of this post, while being relevant to the topic, is also an acknowledgment of the recent reunion and planned tour of one of my favorite bands, The Police. You can find details about their tour schedule here. Speaking of crowds…