I like people. I don't worry very much about this.

I like talking to people, but it tires me out. (Extraverts are often surprised to learn I'm not one of them.) I don't worry very much about this either. My energy gets budgeted well.

I like having deeply considered opinions about things that matter to me. (Maybe being introverted forced me to like this, or maybe the other way around, or a little of both.) I don't usually worry very much about this. It's valuable to know my reasons for thinking what I think, and for those reasons to stand up to as much scrutiny as I and others can muster.

Some of my opinions have only been arrived at after extended expenditures of time and effort: for instance, my current opinions on nutrition, exercise, politics, and software development. So have everyone else's, of course. My particular opinions generally seem to be outliers, as it happens, but that's not per se what worries me.

What worries me is that if I strike up a conversation with a random reasonably intelligent person and talk about our opinions, on average I'm going to find it a very frustrating conversation. That's true for many reasonably intelligent people, of course. But I have reason to speculate — not only because my opinions are outliers but because of how I arrived at them — that my average frustrating conversation is more frustrating than average. And even if that's not the case, I've learned (at least in part) to not want to have these conversations.

What worries me is that my introversion, combined with my specialized opinions that are usually fruitless to discuss with others, may be a vicious spiral. I'm worried that I'm making it more and more energy-costly for me to talk to people, more and more empathy-costly for people to talk to me, and less and less likely for me to have enough conversations with enough people to keep improving as a human being.

What can I do about it?

  • When I need my opinions to matter, I seek relatively like-minded people with whom conversations feel mutually rewarding. (Primary danger: filter bubble.)
  • When I don't need my opinions to matter, I talk less and listen more. (Primary danger: learned apathy.)
  • When I'm feeling somewhere in between, I choose interlocutors more wisely, and choose how much conversational energy to expend on them more carefully. (Primary danger: underestimating myself or others.)
  • I try to do work that takes away some of my freedom of choice about who I talk to and how much talking is needed. (Primary danger: takes too much.)

What else can I do to stay connected to people and have them stay connected to me? I can ask you for ideas. Hey, I just did!