What’s New Yourself? An Introvert’s Perspective

February 4, 2012

Matt Chong, an enthusiastic extrovert over at The Pinstriped Suitwrote a recent post that was featured on WordPress’s Freshly Pressed page.  Mr. Chong, like most enthusiastic extroverts, believes that the world would be a much better place if everyone else were enthusiastic extroverts.  The main point of his post is that we should have a ready answer for the question “What’s new?”  He suggests that if one mumbles, “not much,” in response, then one’s life needs shaken up in some fashion.

Lest Mr. Chong believe that many lead lives of quiet desperation, I would submit that introverts may see the conversation differently.  At least one introvert does.

If we’re in daily contact, I assume what’s new? is the same as how’s it going? and what’s up?  If I’ve asked someone what’s new?, I don’t rightly care about the answer—and I assume they don’t rightly care about mine.  We’re oiling the gears of human interaction; I don’t need to know about someone’s personal growth (in whatever form) while at the urinals.

If we’re not in daily contact, what’s new? trips an odd switch in my brain.  I infer that my answer should be newsworthy: births, deaths, marriages; a new job, house, or car; upcoming vacations or major weather systems.  If I have no news on any of these fronts, my mind goes completely blank.  My running shoes may be new, but they aren’t equal to the magnitude of the question.

Mr. Chong suggests that my answer to what’s new? should be drawn from my current passions in life.  I disagree—that’s not what was asked.  If I’ve been passionate about something for a year, it’s not truly new and is excluded from the category.  Thus, all the stray thoughts on the white-board of my mind are wiped clean by what’s new? and I’m left with nothing to offer.

Sadly, I lost a friend due to this quirky neuro-misfire.  We used to work together.  We talked every day.  She moved to Michigan for another job.  We kept in contact by phone for a while.  But her standard question to me was what’s new?—not just once at the beginning of the conversation, but any time there was a lull.  These were highly stressful phone calls for me—I was continually emptying the junk-drawer of my mind, sorting through the mundane daily nonsense to find something that would qualify as “new.”  My friend’s need to know what’s new was a millstone.  I dragged my feet when returning her calls.  Eventually, she stopped calling.

It is also possible that I shortchange the answer to what’s new? because I dislike the person asking.  I don’t share my thoughts with people I don’t like.  (I realize this is a bizarre concept for extroverts.)  I cannot abide the loquacious, the disingenuous, or the incompetent.  I refuse to reveal any intimate part of myself—and certainly nothing I’m passionate about—to them.

I may be writing a book, composing a new Mass setting, creating a Shutterfly travelogue, remodeling my kitchen, or just fighting interpersonal communication wars in blog posts, but one is unlikely to find out about any of these things by asking me, “What’s new?”

Many thanks to Matt Chong for his post.  It certainly gave me a lot to talk about.



  1. Okay, so….. what’s old? ;O)

  2. Ha! You’ll not ensnare me with your verbal trickery. That’s another blog post all together. Thanks for reading!

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