Quiet

By Susan Cain

"The trick is not to amass all the different kinds of available power, but to use well the kind you've been granted."

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"Those who speak do not know. Those who know do not speak"*

One of the topics prevalent throughout Susan Cain's Quiet is that our society believes that introverts cannot play a role in a world that requires so much social interaction. When she visited Harvard Business School, she spent her time studying the lives of the students. HBS almost requires students to take on an extroverted persona not only in class, but outside of school as well. With "half of the students' grade, and a much larger percentage of their social status, is based on whether they throw themselves into [these simulations in which there is a crisis in their company]". In the world of business, "even if you're only fifty five percent sure", it's better to get out there and say something, finding the perfect answer isn't important. This is what HBS teaches it's students. They're taught to be confident, and impulsive when providing answers to company problems.


This, however, can lead to disastrous results if one doesn't think about the problem clearly and instead puts in motion the first solution that comes to their head, which is the premise of another major topic she addresses- that introverts play just as important of a role in society as extroverts. Even in a place like Harvard Business School. While studying the students, Cain met Don, who considers himself a "bitter introvert". Don and his friends tend to be the more thoughtful, reflective type. While they don't tend to speak as much as their extrovert peers, they spend time with the problem, dissecting it. This in combination with introverts tending to be more observant, might give their solution an edge over what their classmates have come up with. Cain does a nice job of presenting her first claim and then refuting it. She discusses how HBS almost forces their students to become extroverts but then presents examples of introverts who perform just as well as their peers but use a different strategy than the one HBS attempts to engrave into their minds. She does however, spend a lot of time focusing on how the introverts struggle at HBS. She does this in order to show how societies perceived thoughts on introverts impacts these students. I can't help but feel it hurts her argument that introverts play just as important role as extroverts. She describes how they not only struggle in class but also outside of class where the students social status depends on their ability to socialize.


*Lao Tzu, as quoted in "Quiet"

Introverts and Social Media

Introverts are far from antisocial. Like all people, they require relationship, but they seek it in different forms. Fear of embarrassment and rejection drive them away from large, open social settings in most cases. The sole exception to this is their activity on social media and the internet. Shrouded behind their screens, introverts do not feel the fear that accompanies them on all other social experiences, allowing them to open up as they never would before, and form large circles of online friends akin to those formed in the physical world by extroverts.


Social media also allows introverts to express their passions with like-minded people. As Cain explains, "Introverts often have one or two deep interests that are not necessarily shared by their peers. Sometimes they are made to feel freaky for the force of these passions." These passions often manifest themselves online as "fandoms," strict social classes divided by obsession with a certain cultural icon, be it Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, SuperWhoLock, or My Little Pony. In this sense, the internet allows introverts to associate themselves with a large group of strangers that they feel comfortable with despite their typical aversion to social settings.

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Made by Cory Vicino and Cole Vandenberg