I had dinner with two great friends this evening who made the suggestion that I am something of a hermit.
I know this to be true, at least in spirit. I’m not a true hermit because I’m frankly just too lazy to put in the kind of effort those guys commit to and because I do actually enjoy people.
But I’ve perfected the art of working with people without physically interacting with them.
Now, I’m perfectly good at interacting. I’m generally interested in people, in their stuff, their lives, the cool things they’re doing and I’m even quick to jump in when I discover a particularly fixable problem. In particular, I hate it when my people are unhappy. I guess the fact that I have ‘people’ excludes me from true hermitry.
But I may be more of a product of the digital age than I realise, sometimes.
I would estimate that 70% of my human interactions take place either online via email, twitter or facebook or via various chat applications: BBM, MSN, WhatsApp and Skype. Some days, all of them do.
The question isn’t whether it happens, but whether there is something wrong with it. Whether in fact, it really does make me a recluse or just makes me an observant user of the available tools.
I am inner-directed. I always have been. In many ways, I am a classic introvert; almost fully capable of energising from within without the need for reassurance, validation or even commentary from others.
That doesn’t mean however that I eschew the notion of cooperation, of teamwork or that I don’t value input from people whose opinions I regard highly. And there are lots of people who fall into that category for me. I just don’t tend to actively go out of my way to seek it.
Because of that, I guess I do spend less time physically interacting with people than would once have been considered normal. But the flip side of that argument is that I bet I am a perfectly current form of normal. I’d be surprised to find that I am alone in this way of interacting.
Maybe that makes me a recluse. But I would suggest that it helps make me as productive as I am capable of being. And that, I would guess, is more valuable in the long run.