Monday, January 5, 2015

My Missing Filter

A question had been plaguing me. It's something I've noticed about myself, and something that is mentioned a lot when talking about introverts in general. Why do introverts need down-time?

Or maybe my question is why do extroverts not need down-time. 

I was thinking about it a lot the other day and came up with an hypothesis that I would love to run by some real-life extroverts. An extrovert should not be that hard to come by. Unfortunately, I come from a family of introverts, so it's more difficult than you would think.

I noticed that, personally, how soon I need my down-time correlates to how much is going on around me. In quieter settings, I can go all day, and be fine with a little down-time in the evening. In louder settings, I find myself escaping to a bathroom or outdoors throughout the day.

So it got me thinking. What if extroverts and introverts both have a "sensory data tank" that fills up with stuff they both have to process, but extroverts have a special filter that keeps irrelevant data from filling up the tank. Like background music. It distracts me horribly, but it seems not to bother the extroverts I'm around at all. What if they have a filter in their brain that tells them that it's not necessary to process that information? It would mean that their "sensory data tank" would fill up much slower, apparently to the extent that they can keep up with the input in real time.

It could explain why introverts--well, me specifically--will reach a point where they shut down. When the "sensory data tank" is full, escape becomes necessary so the data can be processed, or at least drained from the tank so it can receive more data. If escape is impossible, then I shut down emotionally and give monosyllabic responses to anyone attempting to draw me out of my shell of self-preservation.

If this filter does exist, I really wish I could develop one. It would be so handy. Three conversations going on at once? Just ignore all but the one you are actually participating in! Background music in a store? Don't have to pay attention to the lyrics, just enjoy the mood of the melody. My life needs this. Badly.

Do you think there's something here? I would really like to hear from extroverts as well as my fellow introverts on this. Do you think that it's a skill that can be developed? Let me know!

Want to read more about my introverted misadventures?
Check out these posts:

I Hugged a Stranger
Distance Makes the Heart Grow Fonder
Talking To Myself

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