CONFESSIONS OF A SECRET INTROVERT

Is being antisocial good for you? How much value is there in JOMO? In a world that won't shut up for five minutes, Olivia Phillips explores the transformative power of checking out
Share
Share
CONFESSIONS OF A SECRET INTROVERT
Kendall, I feel you. Who says that hiding every now and then is a bad thing?

DUBAI MIGHT NOT BE THE BEST PLACE FOR AN INTROVERT to find themselves in. After all, it’s where people who like to show off come to be their show-offiest. I can say this with confidence because I am precisely one of those look-at-me idiots. Or I was. Or I am. I’m still deciding.

Call it emigrating ennui, or perhaps it’s just getting older, but I’ve recently gone into full-steam reverse when it comes to socialising. And I’m not just talking about being a bit over going out-out and rolling home at 3am with a Bob’s cod and chips tucked under my arm. I’m talking a near point-blank refusal to switch on WhatsApp, Facebook messages going unopened for days, and feeling utterly exhausted at the prospect of Instagram – from both stalking and posting perspectives.

Yeah, I know. It’s got that bad that I can’t even summon the energy to lurk in the dark corners of the internet, judging other people. You could have personally joined the space race, or bought a monkey and taught it to speak Esperanto, but if you’ve done it in the last few weeks, I would be none the wiser.

It’s not that I don’t like you or that I don’t care; it’s just that I’ve gone from social-media obsessive to antisocial media convert, fully embracing the quiet life along the way. And I’m not the only one. As I type, Kanye West has just deactivated his Instagram and Twitter accounts. And I really don’t blame him. A wife, a fashion line, two kids, an ego, a handful of feuds to uphold and one eye on the presidency all sounds a bit… hectic. He’s probably just knackered. Obsessively checking Jay Z’s Insta Stories every morning would give me a touch of the FOMOs, too. So I sympathise with the poor bloke, I really do. Because, ultimately, hasn’t there come a time in all of our lives when we just feel a bit overwhelmed? When we feel the need to stop the world and get off, shutting out all the noise and stimuli vying for our attention? Life has got so shouty these days. And if you ask me – and Kanye, probably – the best thing you can do is be kind to yourself and disengage. At least for a little while, anyway.

But this isn’t just a digital detox thing. There’s a reason that JOMO – the joy of missing out – picked up speed as a concept last year. Staying in as the new going out. The beauty of an elasticated waistband and an M&S microwaveable meal for one. I’m finally coming around to that way of thinking, and starting to wonder if this kind of self-enforced hermitage can actually be really good for you. A nice cup of tea and a bit of peace and quiet. Some minding your own business. Recharging your batteries by being blissfully, unashamedly, phone-on-silent, neighbours-have-to-check-you’re-not-actually-dead, on your Jack Jones. According to Susan Cain, author of the best-selling Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, it’s called the “quiet revolution.” And to me, a girl who gets, on average, 50 gajillion e-mails a day – a modest estimate – this sounds utterly delightful. Sign me the heck up and, please, do it quickly.

If all this is starting to sound a bit Grey Gardens, I’m not actually advocating the long-term benefits of becoming a total recluse. I have, however, realised that if both Kanye and I – of similarly showy, narcissistic stock – occasionally feel the need to check out of life, then that probably means we’re all loitering somewhere on the introvert scale.

Studies show that one third of us can be categorised as introverts, but my expertise – based on hunches and some sketchy Googling, I’ll be honest – tells me that most of us are more likely to be both introvert and extrovert at the same time. One minute posting bikini pics, and the next, when things get a bit much, just going, “NOPE!” and going to have a small lie down on the balcony with some Pringles.

I support this entirely. Do it for as long as you feel is necessary. Eat two packets. Eat three. I’ll tell you a secret: whatever they tell you, life will wait until you’re ready to go back to it, all guns blazing.

Image: REX