Tomorrow, humble, placid groundhogs will be rousted from their quiet underground lairs and forced into the bright lights of a noisy, hyper-social world.
Introverts? If this story makes you want to hug a groundhog and say, “I feel you, brother! Your burrow is my cubicle,” you should check out Susan Cain’s new book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. In it, Cain strikes a blow for such antique concepts as privacy, introspection and working alone. She told NPR:
“It’s quite a problem in the workplace today, because we have a workplace that is increasingly set up for maximum group interaction. More and more of our offices are set up as open-plan offices where there are no walls and there’s very little privacy.”
At work, the average space per employee has shrunk since the 1970s, she says, from 500 square feet to 200. That’s groundhog size.
Not only are we physically crammed together at work, our thinking is starting to blob together too. As Cain wrote in the Times:
“The New Groupthink has overtaken our workplaces, our schools and our religious institutions. Anyone who has ever needed noise-canceling headphones in her own office or marked an online calendar with a fake meeting in order to escape yet another real one knows what I’m talking about.”
Maybe it’s just me, but when did the ability to figure out a problem by yourself become a defect?